Today I mopped the floor. That might’d seem especially exciting but as someone who is highly enthusiastic in my ability to avoid doing household stuff that I deem ‘not 100% necessary’ this was a biggie. It was a nappy change that drove me to it. Well that and an aching pelvis (oh HEY there baby with the clearly enormous head who enjoys pummelling my inner lady parts), a puppy that managed to eschew all restraints and take off for a jaunt down the middle of the road in hot pursuit of a courtesy bus (whose driver felt the need to wind down the window and chastise me for my irresponsible dog ownership, because chasing a renegade dog down a hill while 8.5 months pregnant and holding a toddler was EXACTLY how I had planned to spend the time between 8.30-8.45am on a Tuesday) and a general feeling of ‘blah-ness’ that’s engulfed me since this morning. Mainly though, it was the nappy change.
I don’t know whether it’s just my son but his current hatred of having his nappy changed alternates between being funny and driving me to the brink of complete despair. Today, I went down the despair route and found myself sitting on the floor, sobbing into a toddler sized (clean) BabyLove with ‘Wags The Dog’ emblazoned on the front, while my son danced around, in his (dirty) shoes, on his (clean) sheets in a (dirty) nappy. I had tried reasoning, cajoling, bribing, hell, at one point I held both his bears AND Scout The Singing Dog hostage yet somehow he still managed to evade me (not hard with my enormous belly and aching pelvis) and refuse, point blank to be changed. In the end, I wrestled him to the floor and physically held him down to get the job done. He cried. I continued to cry. We both may have snotted all over our respective t-shirts. It wasn’t pretty. It was ‘in the trenches’ parenting at its finest and it made me wonder where, as parents, we continue to draw the strength from to keep moving forward, even when things are going spectacularly pear shaped and we feel like crawling under the covers and turning out all the lights.I’m yet to work out where this strength comes from. I’m dubious that I actually possess it at all yet somehow, I must do as I keep on keeping on, even when i don’t feel like it or want to. My husband texted me today to say that his new classes at school had gone really well and I replied by saying that I was sure they had and that he had no doubt done a far better job today teaching than I had done mothering. Because some days it feels as if mothering is my ‘job’ and a job that I’m not doing well. A job that I somehow have all the skills for but that I struggle to connect the dots with.
While I’ve learnt not to beat myself up about feeling that way sometimes, I do still feel a surge of guilt when struck with the sensation of ‘motherhood disconnect’, a term I use to describe the separation between what I feel and do and what I wish I was feeling and doing. I long ago farewelled the myth of the ‘perfect mother’ from my perceptions of parenting but that sense of disconnect still sometimes remains.
And so I mopped. Something about the mechanics of doing something that didn’t require any thought was soothing. And while I mopped, I thought about the morning we’d had and while I initially found myself dwelling on the less than stellar moments (pinning a small child to the ground with my knees isn’t exactly something I’m proud of doing), my mind eventually drifted to the funnier, better aspects. Filling up diggers and dump trucks with pebbles together before being issued with instructions to ‘dump mama, dump!’. Little hands ‘helping’ me to wash up. An out of the blue cuddle at the park, complete with neck nuzzle (my favourite part of toddler cuddles). In a way, I’m thinking that it’s these little sparks that keep the momentum going and keep me keeping on.
What keeps YOU keeping on when you’re down in the parenting trenches? Where do you pull that energy to keep moving forward from? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Linking up with Jess at Essentially Jess for IBOT