I’m participating in another week of The Mother Blog’s #MotherhoodMonday series and this weeks topic is all about Motherhood Messes.
This immediately made me think of all the things people don’t tell you about motherhood, especially the messy parts. From the moment of conception it’s all rainbows and butterflies. No one says good luck with the constipation or third degree tearing. Which I get, that might be a little traumatic, especially for a first time mom, but the moment a tiny human came out of my body I really wished someone would have told me just a tiny bit more about the mess to follow his arrival. I mean fundal massages? WHAT. THE. EFF.
While birth and postpartum are all terribly messy (both physically and emotionally I might add), one mess of motherhood I’m currently living is POTTY TRAINING. Holy cow has that been full of some shit. Ha! I just made myself giggle.
I was terrified of this stage. I heard a few horror stories here and there. Most of them were related to parents desperately wanting to potty train, but their kid NOT wanting to cooperate so I was cool being patient. Just waiting till he was ready. Well he got ready real quick and before I knew it I was learning all about the mess of teaching your kid how to not crap his pants anymore.
Turns out potty training is a lot like house training a dog. This is one of those things I wish someone would have told me. I mean I heard about pee on walls (cause boys) and I remember vague references about accidents happening, but no one freaking told me my kid might start taking a dump on. the. floor. No lie, dude would stand right next to his potty and shit on the tile (thank God we don’t have carpet). Ya know, kinda like how your dog would walk right past that pee pad and lift their leg to your couch? Which speaking of, they should make pee pads for tiny humans that smell like Paw Patrol or something. Did I just invent something amazing?
Another thing I wish someone would have told me is that potty training is a crock of shit. Ha! I just giggled again. SO MANY people say “he/she is potty trained now” like they are done. Well you know what I’ve discovered? It’s a damn lie. Sure, my kid is peeing on the potty like a boss. He even decided to poo IN THE TOILET (one time). But can he wipe his own ass? Um negative. Can he get up in the middle of the night to pee? Double negative. And I’m sure as hell not ready to start waking him up to do that either. I mean we just got done with this no sleeping shit (another lie, you literally NEVER sleep again). But seriously, I won’t consider my job done until dude can walk into a bathroom completely unprompted and come out with a clean ass, hands and toilet seat.
All this got me thinking about a common thread though. When I think about all the things people don’t tell you, the messy stuff they are too scared or worried or in denial about to say out loud, I realize the biggest thing we withhold about mothering is the fact that it’s a PROCESS. Take postpartum for example. Our culture of course puts a time stamp on it. 6 weeks. That’s when you usually get the clear from your doc to resume “normal” activities, but who the eff decided on a norm??? Postpartum is anything but normal and it comes in every variation and form.
The same goes for birth actually. We have this idea of how things will go exactly, a birth plan we set out to achieve from the beginning, but birth is like the ultimate journey of letting go and trusting the process. Seriously though, the more I type the more I realize this relates to every single aspect of mothering. Newborn haze? Trust the process. Breastfeeding? Trust the process. Maternity leave ending? Trust the process. Threenager? Trust the process. Potty training? Trust. the. process.
Trusting the process. It’s actually a therapeutic term drilled in my brain during grad school. Unexpressed feelings are a major reason why people experience difficulties and distress and sharing your thoughts and feelings in a safe and supportive environment is like the founding work of therapy. If that initial trust is never built then you can’t be helped. Period.
That’s the thing about motherhood messes. They are unexpressed. Birth trauma or disappointment, postpartum depression or anxiety, sleep deprivation, breastfeeding struggles, mom guilt about working or not working or both, wanting to call your threenager an asshole (maybe that’s just me but hey someone had to say it) These are just some of the difficulties we might face during the process of motherhood and unfortunately a safe and supportive environment to vent about the mess of it all isn’t always the norm in our culture.
I wrote about this last week when talking about my motherhood motivations. I spoke to my enormous need to find my tribe. The group of mamas that make me feel safe and supported. The ones who embrace the mess of motherhood and the unique journey we each have.The women who don’t tell me to suppress my feelings, but instead trust through the process right alongside me. Even the shitty (pun intended) potty training process 😉
So I say screw the norm. Motherhood is beautiful. It fills us with immense and overwhelming amounts of joy. But it’s also ugly and messy and downright HARD. So let’s stop putting this expectation to do all the things “right” or within a certain time frame. Let’s stop focusing so much on finishing first or faster or better. Cause there is no end. There is no right. It’s a process all it’s own. A beautiful mess that goes way too fast so just slow down and enjoy the ride.
Don’t forget to check out all the other mamas participating this week: