Manly Guy left Friday morning at 5 AM for 2.5 days to watch some of his CrossFit buddies compete in the CrossFit Regionals in San Jose over the weekend. I encouraged him to go, and was glad that he was able to watch and support his friends. As an added bonus, he crashed at his best friend’s house in the South Bay, so he got some valuable Bromance time, too.
Of course, this meant that I was on kid duty by myself for nearly three days. And while it has gotten easier than it used to be (when I had multiple toddlers in the house), it is still challenging. The kids are great, they didn’t act up, it wasn’t that it was that BAD; it is just the relentlessness of caring for children that can make it hard. By the time Manly Guy got home on Sunday afternoon, I was *really* needing a break. It gets to the point that every request/question/interruption while doing a task (like cleaning the kitchen) gets to be Too Much. While I have yet to snap at my kids with “Can you please just leave me the f*&k alone?”, I have certainly thought it in my head.
When I think of the many mothers who deal with situations not nearly as wonderful as mine, it is a chilling thought. I have a wonderful, supportive husband and four great kids. While we are not rich, we are comfortable, and I don’t have to worry if we will have enough to eat or a roof over our head. Everyone is healthy and generally happy. We our extremely blessed and I try to remind myself often to be grateful. It is amazing to me that even under really wonderful circumstances, child rearing can feel very hard, particularly when I know that it could be so much harder.
Of course we hear in the news every so often about mothers who totally lose it, kill their kids, and often try to kill themselves. In mid-May there was the case of Carol Coronado in Southern California who stabbed her three daughters to death and then slashed her wrists. Such a horrible story! The daughters were 2 1/2 years old, 16 months old and 2 months old. The husband was across the street working on the car. Now this mother is facing jail for life and possibly the death penalty. The whole situation seems such a senseless loss of life, a terrible end for everyone involved, including the husband, who will be emotionally scarred for life.
The other recent news story that made me pause was the accidental heroin overdose of Peaches Geldof in April. She was twenty-five, mother of two young sons (2 years old and 11 months old), married to Thomas Cohen, the lead singer of a band called S.C.U.M. On the surface she had it all– she was the daughter of a rock star living the privileged life of a model, married to a rock star. Looking over her biography, it seems that she was working in TV and fashion up until 2011, when she got engaged to Thomas Cohen. In April 2012 she gave birth to their first son, then she and Thomas married in September 2012, and she had their second son in April 2013.
What struck me about both of these tragedies was my lack of surprise. As soon as I heard the ages of the children in both cases, I could see why it could happen. When V turned five last year, I did a little dance to celebrate no longer having a baby or toddler in the house. To some, this may sound really calloused, but after ten years of baby and toddler years (with the four kids), it was a relief to *not* be pregnant/breastfeeding/changing diapers/trying to negotiate with a toddler. Motherhood is more demanding than I could have ever imagined, and it was particularly so when the kids were under age five. While I still have challenging days, I remind myself that it is a lot easier than it used to be. When I think back to those early days, especially in the first six months, I can see how some mothers can literally go crazy.
It is easy to imagine a woman with three children under three (including a new infant) wondering how her life became so miserable and feeling terribly desperate. It is not a stretch to envision a young, beautiful celebrity with two little boys wanting to escape the drudgery that motherhood can be. I don’t know if there is a fix for this. Raising kids is a hard job and I’m not sure that society really *can* make it easier, or that it would be appropriate to do so. But it would be nice if the hard work was at least acknowledged by more people. Many of us don’t realize (I certainly didn’t before I had children) that motherhood is one of the toughest jobs ever, even when the parameters are close to perfect.