People say motherhood is hard for good reason. Fussy babies, sleep deprivation, excrement, whining, bullying, sex offenders, driver’s ed, college tuition . . . the list of parenting worries and woes is as endless as those restless newborn nights.
But when you boil it all down, what makes it so hard isn’t the exhaustion, constant neediness, errant behavior, peer pressure, safety worries, or any of the other difficulties we think of when raising kids.
What makes motherhood hard is love.
No, really. When you think about it, the deep and abiding love we have for our children is what drives the vast majority of our frustrations, fears, and freak-outs. Isn’t it?
When a baby’s not sleeping well, that’s hard. But what really makes it hard is that we love them too much to just ignore them or sleep through their wailing.
Changing diapers stinks (ba dum pum), but love compels us to do it anyway.
Worrying about our kids is torture sometimes, but we worry because we love them.
Dealing with kids’ weird behaviors can be challenging. But it’s mostly challenging because we want them to be happy and successful. And why do we want them to be happy and successful? Because we love them.
If it weren’t for love, we’d just let our offspring do whatever and not worry about it. We could ignore them when they cry, let their troubles roll off our back, and spend their music lesson money on a weekly massage without a second thought.
If we didn’t love our kids, we wouldn’t give a flip about any of the things that make us crazy. We wouldn’t lose sleep, we wouldn’t sacrifice our own time or energy or resources to help nurture them. We wouldn’t be concerned about their well-being at all.
So when motherhood gets tough, love is really the problem.
And the beautifully ironic truth is that love is also the solution.
So as I’m sitting here trying to finish up some writing, my preschooler is half sitting on me, singing the alphabet song at the top of his lungs, right in my ear, in his underwear. And I’m feeling frustrated because I just want three more minutes to solidify my thoughts and get them down before they vanish.
But then I remember why I’m even writing this blog. Because I’m a mom, and I love being a mom. I love this little boy in his skivvies, I love that he’s singing the alphabet song, and I love that he wants to be close to me.
The irony of being compelled by love to write about motherhood and yet being frustrated that that love is interrupting my writing is not lost on me.
So I soften, set the computer aside for a few minutes, and sacrifice some clarity of thought to give him my attention. It’s amazing moms can get anything done, really. And yet we do. Love can do miraculous things when we let it.
Love is the problem and the solution. The question and the answer. The ailment and the cure. That pesky, crazy, mysterious force is at the heart of it all.
How cool is that.