A friend and former colleague of mine used to tell me I was “choking on applesauce” when I would find a way to mess up something that everyone else seemed capable of handling. I only later realized it was a reference to a famous 2007 rant about a college football game; I’m sure he would be appalled and repulsed to know I am now using it in reference to my misadventures in motherhood. Sorry, Dan!
The truth is, I’ve never felt more out of my element than I have since becoming a mother. I’ve always wanted to have kids of my own, but once my son was born, I realized I was floundering through a whole new world of very humbling unknown. Fueling my insecurity, everyone else in my position seemed to have everything all figured out. Why were other babies sleeping peacefully through the night in their cribs while mine only dozed, fitfully and pee-soaked, on my head? How were other moms able to routinely master the sex-kitten curled locks when I hadn’t even been able to shower in three days? Did no one else’s kids test the mouthfeel of the occasional thumbtack?
Was I just choking on applesauce?
Then one day, this sense of self-doubt came to a head. A trip to the grocery store with both kids in tow turned into another humiliating public spectacle, full of misbehavior and tantrums no amount of diversion could temper, threats uttered through gritted teeth, and tears from everyone. I felt the judgmental gaze of onlookers searing into me and into my newly showing baby bump, and I found myself choking back sobs in the one place I knew no one would judge me for having an emotional breakdown (the cat food aisle). How could I even think of bringing another child into this family when I was clearly failing with the ones I have?
I gave myself some time to wallow and then found myself laughing at what I must have looked like racing my giant car-shaped cart into hiding, tears streaming down my face while my kids relentlessly elbowed each other, wailing and tonguing the steering wheels. I had become a walking pregnant / new mom stereotype.
I pulled some courage and decided to share this vulnerable moment with Facebook (wedged between photos of my kids looking normal and genius crafting activities), expecting to be even more horrified at peoples’ responses to my ineptitude but telling the story with my ounce of newfound levity. What I didn’t expect was the response I got, which was a resounding, “BEEN THERE!” I began to wonder if we could just stop taking ourselves so seriously, stop trying to prove to everyone that we have everything together all the time, and start finding the humor in this devastatingly complex stage of life, we might find that we have more in common than we think. We can laugh together at the times we choke and know it doesn’t have to define us as mothers or undermine the unwavering love we have for our children.
Such has become the mission of this forum: to find the humor in all the bumps along the road of motherhood, no matter how difficult or embarrassing they are to admit. Sometimes, you can Pinterest the hell out of your kid’s birthday party but will still pee your pants trying to blow up the balloons. Sometimes, no matter how hard you fight it, you fall asleep mid-sentence when reading aloud to your children. (Is it me, or do Dr. Seuss books seem longer and even more repetitive around 3 p.m.?) Sometimes the quietest and most solemn moment in church is the moment your kid decides to fill the sacred void with a full-volume account of every bad word you didn’t mean to teach him. Shit happens. Fuck the applesauce.
Have a laugh and try again tomorrow.
More importantly, I hope to illuminate the common spark that runs through all of us who are charged with this sacred calling of motherhood, to forge connections in a world where many of us are pressing on without a village to help us raise our kids, and to make you laugh. Because between the hormones, the difficult relationships, and the grocery stores without double carts, there’s plenty for us to cry about. But if we can find the courage to embrace the dysfunction and find the funny, there’s even more to laugh about.
ENJOY, and talk soon!