On being a mommy to a little girl.

I never knew I wanted a daughter. I was always terrified of the idea of raising a girl. Boys are easier for me, I understand them. Other women make me nervous and uncomfortable. Plus, in my experience, girls hate their mothers at some point. Not dislike. HATE. I think they usually come back after the early teen years and end up being friends, but that hatred has to sting.

I pictured myself ill equipped to raise a girl. I’ve never been particularly feminine. I’m not a sensitive and delicate flower. But now that I have a girl, I’m sort of realizing that even though I love video games, pro wrestling, and camping, I’m still a freaking girl. Just because I don’t wear makeup, drink wine, and enjoy talking on the phone, doesn’t make me less of one. I definitely AM a girl, and maybe I need to reexamine what that means now that I am in charge of raising one.

Apparently I looked at being a woman the same way society does, which is why I was so proud to “not be like other girls”. Being a girl meant being weak, back stabby, gossipy, less intelligent, vapid, shallow, and petty. Being “one of the guys” meant i was laid back, cool, and fun. I don’t want to teach my daughter that she has to be more like a guy in order to be cool and fun. And you know what, for every gender typical guy thing I enjoy, there’s still the fact that I cry watching Grey’s Anatomy. I dye my hair, have floral tattoos, and like having professional photographs of my kids taken. I love cooking and baking, and hosting parties. I like to snuggle. So it turns out that rather than being more like a dude, I’m just more like a well rounded person.

Girls have more leeway in this culture with who they choose to be. Tomboy isn’t a negative term. There is no cute word for a boy who has feminine tendencies. She can choose dresses or pants, short or long hair, to be a mechanic or a preschool teacher. Times are changing, but I do think girls have an easier time being who they want to be. There is a wider range of acceptable. Women obviously still face many challenges in society, and nothing is ever going to be totally fair. But I feel lucky and privileged that I am allowed to be who I am without ridicule. And that my daughter will be able to make her choices and follow her own path as well.

Even so, I did try to avoid the pink with her. I did her room in green and purple. I tried to keep it from being overly girly. And then I gave up. Pink crept in everywhere. And dolls. And soft fluffy things. And she loves all of that. But she also loves her cars and trucks, and has tool puzzle pieces that she likes to pretend to fix the house with. She likes to try on my high heels and stomp around the house in them, even though I’m fairly certain she’s never seen me wear a pair. She likes to point at flowers and say “pretty”. She’s a cuddler, and gives hugs and little kisses, and has a furrowed brow concerned face whenever anyone is upset. But she’s tough. Actually, she’s a force of nature. She’s feisty and fiery, and makes her preferences known. She thinks farting is hilarious, and already chuckles at the word poop. Even though at 18 months old we are starting to butt heads, I am proud of her.

It turns out I’m not an inadequate mother to a girl after all. I was just afraid that I wasn’t a good woman myself. I was afraid to shoulder the burden of making someone else into a good woman. But just because I don’t wear makeup and can’t accessorize for crap, doesn’t mean I’m not a good woman. In fact, it has very little to do with anything. And if she ends up being the type of girl who wants to wear makeup and have extravagantly braided hair, I can learn. They have YouTube videos for that. She can help me be even more well rounded. I promise to make her feel not only beautiful, but smart and funny too. I hope I can make her believe good things about herself, and help her realize her worth and potential.

I never expected my daughter. She’s a rough and tumble dirty little devil in polka dots and pink. She challenges me every day, but not in the ways I feared. She’s my little fireball, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I hope she never hates me, but I feel confident that even if she does for awhile, she will come back around. We will be friends. Because I suspect that we will have a lot in common. And as it turns out, that’s not such a bad thing.

On being a mommy to a little boy.

I always knew I wanted a boy if I had kids. I wanted a boy so badly, that my entire being paused for a moment right before they announced the gender at his ultrasound. My breathing stopped, my heart stopped, I didn’t move. And she said “it’s a boy” and a tear of relief and gratitude slipped out as everything resumed functioning.

I know I’m not supposed to admit wanting a boy over a girl. Gender preference is so looked down upon. I was supposed to say “either will do, we are hoping for healthy!” Well obviously, healthy was the most important thing. Wanting a boy didn’t mean I wasn’t concerned with my baby’s health. But I dreamt of a dirty little barefoot buddy with skinned knees, tanned skin, and chewed fingernails. We would wrestle and laugh at farts, and he’d be my little wild thing. And he is. He’s my dream.

He is an explorer. He is incredibly curious. He is observant, and has so many questions they fly out of his mouth in rapid succession and I wonder if he retains any answers. But he does. I let him ask me everything, all day every day nonstop. “Mommy, what’s this? What’s it do? Can I touch it? (He already is.)” Or “Why?” I answer him. I explain things as best as I can, over and over. I let him learn and touch and explore. He’s into everything. I love his curiosity and his endless inquiries, even when I’m tired and want to stop talking. Even when I’d love a moment of peace. I’m not perfect, and when I snap “not right now” or “please be quiet for a minute”, I can see him visibly shrink and his light dims. And I remind myself to be patient. Because I do not want to be a person who forces him to be small and quiet. I want to encourage him. The world will beat him down enough, and I’m his mother. I’m the place he will come when his day has told him to stop asking questions, to stop being excited, and to sit still. And I’ll be able to tell him it’s okay to be on fire. To be bright and full of life.

I think I am a good mother for a son. This world is a hard place for a boy to grow in. When he was a baby, I was told I held him too much. I comforted him too much. I was making a weak mama’s boy, he would be whiny and spoiled. He’d be clingy and sensitive. I was a first time mom, and I worried. Was I ruining him? Was I setting some permanent groundwork to keep him from succeeding as a strong male later in life? I worried. But I did what felt right anyways, and I held him when he cried. I kissed his hurts away. I rubbed his back and stroked his hair. I held his hand and picked him up. I comforted him. I snuggled him. I sniffed his hair and read him bedtime stories. He’s such an independent big boy now, and I’m confident it’s because he knows I am here to kiss his hurts if he needs me. And he is sensitive. He loves his sister, and cries when things are sad or scary. He thinks animals are “sooooo cuuuteeee” and sleeps with stuffed animals. I love that he will laugh like a loon at a fart, but can also lay his head on me and ask if I know how much he loves me. I know little man.

Now that he’s older, I hear more about how I’m supposed to shut him down. I’m coddling him by answering his questions. Everyone seems to expect him to sit still and be quiet. My son is full of a wiggling boundless energy, and he is noticeable. He wants to talk, and question, and tell silly senseless stories. He wants to use the word poop 500x in a sentence. He’s not a brat. He’s not a bad kid. He doesn’t have ADHD. He’s smart and likes attention. He wants to move. He’s alive, and he doesn’t let you forget it for a second. He’s touching, talking, reaching, knocking, spilling, laughing, falling, crashing, yelling, spinning, and he has the biggest widest eyes as he takes it all in.

Everyone has this idea of what a boy is supposed to be like. Too many tears and he’s a crybaby. Too much energy, he needs medicine. Too shy, and he’s a wuss. Too aggressive, and he’s a bully. There’s no winning. Either your kid is an undisciplined brat you are allowing to run wild, or you’ve created a sissy pansy boy who will be picked on. We smash little boys into this awful box where there’s no room for pink, fairytales, fears, or emotions. We take the beauty out of the world for boys, because beauty is for girls.

I refuse. I’m not going to go as far as some, and raise a genderless child. I think that creates its own issues and it doesn’t feel like what’s right to me. My son can be gay, straight, boy, girl, whoever he decides he is, and I will support him 100%. I’m following his lead. I’m giving him a safe place in which to grow. And in this world, he can have pink if he wants it. He can have beauty. He can run wild and ask a thousand questions. He can say he wishes his hair was as long as Rapunzel’s. And no one will call him a sissy. No one will tell him to go fit in his boy box. And when he goes out into the world and it tells him he’s wrong, I hope I’ve given him enough courage to tell it to fuck off. I hope my little wild thing doesn’t let life defeat him, and if he gets close, I hope he comes home where I can rub his back and stroke his hair, and tell him it’s okay to be on fire. Even if no one else is.

on being the lamest kind of superhero.

Since becoming a mother, I have discovered a whole abundance of skills I didn’t know I had. Unfortunately, not many of these things are marketable skills. Or even cool skills.

I never realized how long I can hold my pee. I mean seriously, I think my bladder should be in a museum or something. I realize I have to pee, and then I weigh the relief of no longer doing a wiggly dance in public against the totally fun task of bringing two young children into a public restroom with me. And I keep on wiggling. Because they will touch things in there. The floor, the tampon disposal, the toilet. And I don’t have enough coordination to maintain my hover, swat their hands away from things, and keep them from peeking under the stall door and informing our neighbor that they heard their poop splash. No, I will wiggle all day, thank you.

I can make a full healthy from scratch meal in twenty minutes flat. I’m not kidding. This one may be marketable, but my two little employers have this skill on lock down for themselves. I have some seriously quick recipes these days. Mostly because the duet of “mommy I’m hungry where is my dinner?” And “ehhhh ehhhh ehhhh screech squeal scream ehhhh” will drive me insane if I don’t get food in their faces. Pea will be trying to climb my legs and howling and behind me I will hear a splash and glug noise. I’ll whip around see that D has tried to help himself to a drink of milk out of the fridge because he couldn’t wait five minutes until I didn’t have raw fish all over my hands to get him one. Then the debate……Clean the milk quickly or continue cooking and get the food out. Food, always go with the food. Don’t waste time watching the milk spread across the floor or wondering if you can move the fridge yourself. The longer you take, the more disasters they will pile on you as punishment. It’s ALMOST worth the hustle when they dig in and stuff their little piggy faces, and the big one tells me “you’re the best cooker ever mommy” and the little one throws a piece of broccoli at my face and smiles. That means she likes it.

I don’t get grossed out. I have been bitch slapped with a tiny hand full of feces, peed on, puked on, spit on, bled on, and had unidentifiable things wiped on my skin and clothing. I’m relieved if I look and it’s only a booger. I am so immune to bodily fluids and bad smells. Kids are so disgusting, and the things I’ve fished out of their mouths are enough to make a normal person dry heave. Luckily my stomach of steel superpower gets stronger with each new surprise, because my children keep trying to set the bar a little higher. D literally ate shit once. Yes that’s right. I thought he had a pebble in his mouth and I went to take it out, but turns out he was crunching away on a litter covered hardened old cat turd. Pea has yet to really horrify me, but she’s like a little baby goat, I’m always picking fuzz and paper pieces out of her mouth. Now that she’s getting older, she swallows quickly when she sees me coming. I’m convinced this is a trick Matt teaches them because it makes me clean the floors more often.

I can tune anything out, but I can also hear the smallest noise that means danger or a hurt kid. My sense of hearing is basically magical. A teeny cough in the middle of the night and I’m sitting up in bed. A toy with a Spanish mode that bellows “quesadilla que que quesadilla quesadilla” every time D mashes the Q? Yeah, I don’t hear that anymore. Not even in the car. And somehow my brain filters through which “mommy mommy mommy” actually needs a response. This may be the superpower directly contributing to my sanity levels staying above crazy.

I can live on no sleep, and still get shit done. Mind you, I will complain to anyone that will listen, but I am still properly caring for my two little beasties. I have been so exhausted it feels like my skin is going to fall off. And still, there is somehow enough charge to get me through the day. I don’t know how that works, but I’m grateful. One thing a mom does not have time to be is tired.

Hopefully I’ll end up with a cooler superpower soon, like invisibility (please oh please) or shapeshifting. But until then, I’ll be content with the mom magic. It is real stuff, and I’m pretty sure it’s keeping us all alive.

On gracefully letting my 20s go. Sort of.

I’m turning 30 in a few months. I’m mostly okay with that, and I’m doing all the things I’m supposed to be at this age. I have two kids, I’m married, I’m buying new matching furniture sets and decorating an apartment. I know the difference between a comforter and duvet, and I own accent pillows. I get excited at the prospect of new appliances and read consumer reports. I have mom friends and my kids get invited to birthday parties. Even better, kids come to theirs. Most days, I feel like I’m doing 30 pretty freaking well.

But then I stop and look around, and I’m like WHERE THE FUCK IS EVERYONE??!!! I mean, seriously, where are my friends?

Before everyone got married and had kids, I saw my friends every day. My house was hangout central. People were constantly sleeping on my couches. When I was bored, I could call someone to come sit in their PJs with me and watch junk TV. It’s not even about going out, although I miss that too, it’s about how populated my house was. I was almost never alone.

And now, I wouldn’t even know who to call. Where are my friends? Living their own lives obviously. With their families. A lot of them have full time jobs, so on their nights and weekends, they hang out with their spouses and children. It makes sense, they have zero free time and that sucks. Even the stay at home moms are nowhere to be found. They are hiding under mountains of laundry, errands, and isolating naptimes.

I’m having a hard time letting that awesome couch surfing time period go. Okay fine, I’m being dragged into this new lonely phase of my life kicking and freaking screaming. It’s not graceful. And it’s been happening for years, as more and more people pair off and disappear. I did fine giving up smoking, drinking, partying, and overindulging. I even gave up sleep, free will, and a relatively clean house.

But I’m still waiting for someone to come over and eat ice cream and watch america’s next top model or jersey shore with me and laugh until we cry while Matt’s working. Is it only me? Am I the only one pathetically clinging to my vanished social network? Are they all fine without me? Do they all still HAVE friends? Is everyone else having fun without me?! Cmon, I just want to play cards against humanity after my kids go to sleep and maybe have a whole Smirnoff ice! But everyone else is stuck in their houses while their kids are asleep, and no one is paying $50 in babysitting fees to come sit on my couch. That’s reserved for date nights and special occasions. And I get that because, well, me too man. I don’t get nearly enough time alone with my husband, and we LIVE together. So I’m using up my infrequent baby sitting offers on escaping for dinner and a movie with him too.

I never expected to end up here. I didn’t see it coming. And I miss everyone, all of the time. It makes sense that they aren’t here, and the logical part of my brain knows that. But the rest of my brain is either angry or sad. I feel like I’ve been tossed aside and abandoned, like I’m not even on the priority list anymore. And I’m not, because kids and marriages def outrank me.

I guess I should be glad I had friends good enough to miss. And as awful as it sounds, I hope they are all missing me too. I hope I was good enough to them that they notice my absence in their lives. No, really. I hope the place I used to be feels like a big gaping shot gun wound, because I want to matter THAT much. This not mattering shit sucks.

I suppose time fixes everything? We’ll see. Maybe we will all come back around once kids grow up a little more and schedules become less hectic. Because I still can’t let you go. I am ready to be 30. I’m not even bothered. And I accept almost everything that comes with it. I love my children and my family, and the other things that have replaced hanging out on the couch with people who felt like family for awhile.

I will keep waiting for my friends though. I haven’t given up on them yet, even when I’m mad they’re not here. Even when I tell myself they don’t care, and don’t put any time, effort, or thought into me.

I’m still here.

On the internet, and how it saved my life.

I love the internet. Since being a mom, I love it more than ever. Not only is it a valuable resource to find things like costume ideas, healthy but cute snacks to send to school, pictures of every rash known to man, buckets of research supporting or tearing down any parenting decision it’s possible to make, hilarious cat videos, and lots and lots of ways to spend money I don’t have….It is also the place where a lot of my friends live.

Wait, I know. I’m not supposed to admit that. Internet friends? That’s embarrassing! Something you should keep a secret. What, you can’t even meet friends in real life, you have to turn to the web to meet “fake people”? People don’t admit when they are online dating, and when they do, even their friends talk about it behind their backs. If their relationships fail, it’s not because MANY relationships fail, it’s obviously because they met online. There is a serious stigma behind talking to someone you haven’t met in person. Turning to the internet for social interaction is deemed “pathetic”.

But do you really know anything more than superficial things by meeting someone the traditional way? I mean, yes. I could guarantee they have blue eyes or brown hair if I met them in person. But can I guarantee that mom I met at the park doesn’t chop up people and hide the pieces in her holiday fruit pies? Nope. She has just as much potential to be an ax murderer as the people lurking in online forums. And she’s also more likely to know where I live.

I adore my internet friends. They have been there for me when so many of my real friends either haven’t been able to, or fell by the wayside. They are not “fake people”. I don’t understand when people say that either, like there is an army of robotic humanoids on the other end of my keyboard responding to me. They ARE real people. And I know more about them than I know about a lot of real life people, because being slightly anonymous helps us feel comfortable sharing an awful lot of ourselves. We fear less judgment and mommy wars, and put it all out there.

These are the friendships I’ve been looking for, but especially since having children. They are supportive, inappropriate, friendly, filthy, and often have me stifling laughter after my kids go to bed. They are there when I’m sad, scared, and frustrated. But they are also there when my 17 month old sleeps through the night for the first time, when I want to share a recipe, when I have a day off to dye my hair and want to share pictures with someone. They are where I go for advice on everything, and also just a “hug” when I’m feeling low. They were there for the birth of my children, and kept me company when I was alone in the hospital with a hungry newborn and rampant hormones while my husband was home with D. We talk about the horrors and joys of parenting, vaginas, boobs, food, politics, society, our families, and plain old every day chit chat. And they are always there. During the day, at night, and also really late at night when I’m up with sick or 4am partying kids and need some distraction to keep me from passing out. They talk me through tears and exhaustion, and remind me I can do it when things feel impossible. They have talked me of a ledge more times than I can count. I’ve seen some of the biggest acts of kindness from these ladies. Banding together when someone has a very sick hospitalized child and letting them know they aren’t alone by sending gifts and prayers. Setting up fundraisers and everyone contributing, even when no one has much. Keeping an eye on those who have admitted to suffering from depression or really going through something hard. It’s a place safe enough where people can actually admit they feel depressed, don’t love every moment of motherhood, or failed miserably at a Pinterest creation. These women are there when husbands are away on deployments, abandon their families, or just aren’t very good partners. They are there when other ladies move across or out of the country, leaving their friends and family behind. They offer support and an ear through some of life’s hardest and biggest decisions.

This community offers a place for both extroverted moms whose social lives have been slashed to bits by the nap schedules of tiny children, and introverted moms who can’t seem to click with other women in public but still need advice on diaper rashes and teething remedies. It’s a place for everyone.

I do still have real life friends of course. I’m a very social person though, and it’s so freaking hard to make plans these days. My little people rule, and they don’t leave much time for getting together. Plus most of my friends have kids now, so it’s dependent on two or more separate schedules. When the stars align and we make it work, most of our time is spent chasing, teaching, disciplining, feeding, wiping, and protecting. This leaves very little time for chatting, sitting, and catching up. I love them all and am grateful for the time we do get together, but it’s not enough for me. My internet friends fill the void. They more than fill it.

Honestly, it’s just nice not be alone all of the time. And the only thing that stinks about it, is that we are spread out all over the country (and some beyond that), so we don’t get to hang out in person often. But when we do, it’s like we are the closest friends. And that’s because we are. We have been friends for years now, through the hard stuff. They already accept the weird things about me, and love me anyways.

I just took a vacation to see a bunch of them. I got on an actual plane and stepped off in a city I’ve never been to before. And I had an amazing time. I laughed til I cried, hugged, took pictures, and had a few drinks. I met some of their babies and we helped each other decide what to wear out. We shared beds and one of them lent me socks. I held back hair while someone hurled, and then put pictures of her vomiting on the internet. In November, they are coming to see me in a local city. For next year we already have another meet up in the works.

If that’s not real friendship, I don’t know what is. I’m not at all ashamed of the amount of my daily social interaction that occurs online. I’m grateful to have met such a wide variety of moms with kids the same age as mine, going through the crazy things I’m going through. If I am supposed to feel badly about “not being able” to meet real life people, well I don’t. Mom dating sucks balls.

I love you guys. Thanks for saving my life.


On being two completely different people.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve had multiple lives that don’t resemble each other in the least. These lives are neatly split into segments based on who I was dating, where I was living/working, and who my friends were. It is easy to tell where one ended and the next began, like someone just took a giant axe to my world and said “begin again, girl”. They are labeled in my head like “New York” and “Bart’s Diner” and “insert boys name here”.

If I had to give this life a name it would be “Motherhood”, but also “Waiting”. Because I am on pause here. I am two people.

A lot of people assume that you have to stop being who you are when you have kids. And that you should stop, because being who you were is selfish. And it’s true that it’s hard to hold onto that person you are/were, because a lot of what you did WAS selfish. Sleeping in, staying out late, quitting a job because you didn’t like it, breaking up with a significant other because you didn’t feel like putting in the effort to repair things. Bad choices, lazy choices, irresponsible choices.

But also freedom. Fun. Ease. I was able to take care of myself, because no one else needed anything from me. I was well rested, and if I wasn’t, it was my choice. Everything was MY choice. When I ate, when I sat, when I bathed. If I played video games and ate ramen, or if I got dressed and ventured out amongst people. I chose my clothes based on how flattering they were, not how well they hid a belly roll and food stains. I miss choices. My kids run the show now.

And that’s another thing. People always say “you’re the boss, the kids should just follow what you do in life”. Does anyone with kids say that? Does anyone with kids who is also a good parent EVER say that???? I mean, my kids have structure and discipline. They don’t get away with murder. But my life did not continue on all “business as usual” after having kids, and I literally do not see how it could have. I am a slave to naptime, bedtime, school calendars, three square meals a day, urgent poops. I mean, I have to decline plans past bedtimes, cancel plans because naps didn’t stay on schedule, and reschedule plans because of random illnesses ALL OF THE TIME. I know this will change as they get older, but I’ll never understand how people say “your life shouldn’t change when you have kids” and mean it. My life did nothing BUT change. Everything about it.

I miss choices. Making them for myself. I miss being comfortable. I miss my life before kids. I was fun! I had fun! Fun things occurred on a daily basis! Looking back, I cannot believe I was ever bored. Or that I ever complained about anything. Some days, I would cut off a pinky toe for a day spent working at a gas station Subway with an ugly uniform and that weird bread smell that stuck in my hair for days.

This is the part where I am supposed to backpedal and make contradicting statements about how much I love being a mom though and it’s all so worth it. It is. And I do. But I’ll spare you that bullshit.

Because I’m still in here. I’m still me. And I am waiting. I’m waiting for this to let up. I’m waiting for it not to consume my every waking moment. I’m waiting to be able to sit down without the vultures sensing weakness and descending with their demands. I am two people. One of them is simply Mombot. But the other is me. I have thoughts, preferences, likes, dislikes. I’m funny and snarky, and I love being in large groups of people. I like going out dancing and seeing live music, drinking and smoking, and obnoxiously ignoring the social etiquette of PDA. I like day trips to the nearby cities without planning, buying tickets, aquariums and zoos, hauling strollers and diaper bags. I like living off a schedule. I love late dinner parties with adult card games and tequila. Dinners and movies. Sitting at a restaurant long after the meal is finished. I like a LOT of things that have no room for children in them.

And I’m not sorry about it. And I’m not selfish for still being me. Because I make the right choices every single day. Even when it’s a hard choice. Even when it’s not the choice I want to make. Even when I would rather skin myself alive than get out of bed at an obscene hour and make breakfast while holding a wiggly cranky child. A child who probably won’t eat more than two bites before chucking it on the floor, and another child who will get as many crumbs all over the rug I just freaking vacuumed as he possibly can.

I am waiting. Because I know it will come back. It will be a slow trickle, but eventually little pieces of myself will creep back into my life. I’ll be a mom, but a mom who is me. I’ll be me, who also has two kids. This will happen, and I am waiting. For the freedom, and the fun. For the adventure and the satisfied wanderlust. For the occasional bad decision. I want to travel the country in a tiny house on wheels with my husband and our dog. I want to be haphazard and reckless, impulsive and spontaneous. I want to be naked more.

Let’s be real. I wouldn’t even make all of my old choices. I wouldn’t even be that irresponsible. I don’t miss the hangovers, the broken hearts, the black holes in my memory. The self loathing that came with hurting good people because I wasn’t a good person to be with. The terrible resume from job bouncing. I have learned and grown. But I miss having the options.

I will miss this when it’s over. The tickle fights, the poop jokes, the absolute joy of watching little people experience something for the first time or learn to do something on their own. Parenting is beautiful overall. But day to day, it is grueling. I know I will miss it. Just thinking about them growing up makes me teary.

I hope I will have done a good enough job that my kids will want me in their lives a lot when they are older. I hope I get to be involved. I will be the world’s most kick ass grandma. They better come to my house for holidays. They better call me just to talk, and when something is wrong. And I will never hesitate to drop everything for them. I will help them when they have their own small people to raise. I will ease their burden during that crazy tumultuous time and let them keep small glimpses of themselves by taking their kids when I know how stretched thin and tied and lonely for their spouses they will be. I am determined to remember this feeling, so I remember to be there.

But I am going to spend so much time sitting on the couch playing video games, I can’t even lie.

On martyr mom syndrome, and exhaustion.

People tell you that you’ll be tired after kids. They tell you to enjoy your sleep while you can. Those people, smug as they sound, are right.

You don’t know what tired is. Not until you’ve been up for hours on end with a tiny inconsolable human who wants nothing, but needs something you cannot figure out. And when they finally seem to quiet and doze off, it’s really just a hope crushing taunt because the second your eyes start to droop, the wailing begins anew. And if you stay awake because you’re onto that scheme, that’s when they will sleep. It’s torture, really. You get to the point where you would do jumping jacks suspended over a pit of boiling lava with bugs laying eggs in your ears if it meant you could lay down until YOU were ready to get up, just once.

I’m only slightly exaggerating. Most parents look like they’ve been through some shit. I’m no exception. I’m so exhausted some days that my skin feels raw, like every nerve is exposed.

I think being at your absolute lowest point, and being expected to gush about how much you love it and are thankful for every moment, is what creates Martyr Mom Syndrome.

You know what I mean. The mom who has it worse than you. The mom who seems oddly gleeful when she mentions how she has a lazy husband, an uninvolved family, no friends, and kids who scream in the grocery store. The mom who snidely says you are so lucky for having help in any way. When you talk about how you are beyond thankful to get your first date night out in months, she responds with “must be nice, we don’t have help.” But she says it in such a way that it’s clear she thinks she’s better than you, because she’s doing at all by herself. And she thinks you should be too, or you aren’t getting the full “mom” experience. She is momming so hard.

This pressure to do it all is the worst. If you turn to a friend because you are stretched thin and need an hour to yourself for sanity, you have to worry that she secretly thinks you’re an incompetent parent. And you already think maybe you’re an incompetent parent. From what I hear, past generations used to depend on each other. Other women had large support networks. No one was expected to do it all alone. Mothers were more involved with their daughters children. Friends swapped babysitting for nights out. People with kids did things with other people with kids. How is it that instead of making progress here, we are instead damaging moms?

Being a mom is a hard motherfucking job. You get very little thanks day to day. Especially from the tiny bosses. It’s overwhelming. It’s all consuming. And trying to be super mom is like putting yourself through something that can only result in depression or insanity. Or both.

I am a maid, chef, therapist, teacher, boss, employee, nurse, chauffeur, event coordinater, interior decorater, fashion consultant, accountant, saleswoman, hairdresser, personal hygienist, mind reader, magician, negotiator, handyman, and about a million other things. Often before noon. My schedule is fully booked, every single day. I don’t get breaks. I’m on call 24/7/365.

And it’s sad that this is viewed as the way it should be now. Women put more pressure on each other than anyone else puts on them. Women feel guilty if they get a babysitter to see a new movie. Moms who work feel guilty taking any free time for themselves, because all non working hours should be spent with the kids. After all, they are often already made to feel like failures for providing for their families and “letting someone else raise their kids”. It’s sad that a mom feels like her job is considered free time, and going to Starbucks alone is asking too much.

I’m guilty of being a mom martyr myself. This IS hard after all. And I’m not perfect. People who have more family support than I do and get frequent nights off with their spouses make me jealous. I have caught myself thinking “must be nice” in that snotty tone. And I have totally thought that mom had it easier than me. But it’s entirely possible that mom is struggling in some other way that I DO have support and help with. And even if she’s not, maybe this is just hard for her in general and she is clinging to those nights off. Maybe she feels just as overwhelmed and exhausted as I do. And maybe I have no right to make her feel like she isn’t mothering to the best of her abilities by reaching out for and accepting help, because I’m just furthering the ridiculous notion that we should be doing it all ourselves.

I’m grateful to have a husband that gives me time to myself when he can. When I leave for a full day and come back refreshed, it’s good for everyone. He is someone I can rely on, and that’s awesome. He’s also home a fair amount, so we really do co-parent, and he does his fair share. We are both tired, and it’s nice to know we are in this together. Misery loves company, after all.

Ask for help. It’s okay to need it. It’s okay to reach out. Stop doing it all. Stop burning yourself out. Rely on anyone reliable. Your mom, your friend, your husband. You have to reach out and let someone have a little control, and that part is hard. But you not being afraid to show weakness is the bravest thing, and it paves the way for others to start accepting help too.

And above all, you’re doing a good job. You won’t always be this tired. And it’s okay to wear yoga pants in public, a LOT.