Last night I prayed for three hands. Or an Inspector Gadget coat. Either would do, I pled. If I had my pick, I'd go for Inspector Gadget coat, except I wonder how much maintenance would cost for me to own that sort of awesomeness. It's like buying a VW. You think it's all "well made" (aka, worth it), but then the little plastic knob that controls the sideview mirror (fancy!) breaks and you're out like $3,876.44. Plus you find out that that knob is connected to the transmission or something really bizarrely essential to the function of the whole car. And then you're out a whole car. Because of a knob. That's what I imagine happens with an Inspector Gadget coat. But, I digress. Back to the prayer for 3 hands.
Why only 3 hands and not 4? Well, because I figure if I have 4 hands, then people will think I'm far too capable and then not take appropriate pity on me by opening the door when I have a toddler in one arm, a venti super hot tea in the other, a brigade of chirping crickets for my pet bearded dragon in the third, and the fourth atop the head of my mopey 7-yr old who just found out that, no, we can't buy a Disney princess doll at PetSmart. Yes, PetSmart, I'm talking to you: You stink a big one. You used to be the "free zoo," but now you are the the expensive cricket place that makes my kids want to get a chinchilla when the bearded dragon goes for a swim in the bayou and also now sells kid-friendly toys on the bottom rung of the checkout counter. I don't care how much you try to convince me that they are "for dogs." They're for kids and you know it. Smart ass mofos.
So, back to the 3 hands again. Cue this afternoon, the deadly zone after work/school and before dinner where there is exactly enough time to go through the full range of possible human situations. Traffic. Errands. Music Class. Fire building. Using sharpees on walls. Convincing your two year old sister that it's thundering (it's not) and that she'll need to live in a "tent" under the chair to avoid mortal harm just so that she will then be frightened enough to never emerge and screw with your toys. Eating way too many Kettle chips and marshmallows while Mom pretends not to be texting - "I'm just googling a dinner recipe, geez!" However, this afternoon was exceptionally cold and rainy, so our activities involved the indoor type. It started out rather bumpy at first, like with the game of "mine" involving a nearly deflated helium balloon, which soon popped when the wee one sat on it with a poopy diaper - game over. But, soon after, things got quiet. And I did what you should never ever do: Get confident. I started cooking dinner - even did the dishes BEFORE cooking dinner - and turned on This America Life and contemplated how much I had this mom thing down.
1.5 minutes later, the wee one emerges crying her eyeballs out and pointing to her feet like they've been bound and seared in lava. At this point, I have three pans going on the stove, an ocean of freshly minced garlic in one hand, a truly excellent moment in This American Life where I'm about to find out the secret to life, a pen and paper ready for any blog ideas that might need catching, and the water company on speaker phone asking me what my account number is. So, I do what all moms do. I pick her up with the free (not at all) hand. And I keep going even though she's screaming at the top of her lungs and pointing to her feet. So, I hang up on the water company, throw the garlic somewhere, put Ira Glass on pause, and start to address the freak out. This turns into 20 minutes of who-knows-what-is-wrong-but-she-must-be-dying sort of attention. Except she is the second kid, so this really means that A) I tell her to stop crying instantly; B) I keep taking notes about the blog ideas; and C) I grab some coconut oil I had on my elbow from dinner and smear it on her feet. "That'll do. See the nice lotion Momma put on you? Isn't that better?"
It's not. Screaming. Crying. Feet on fire. The Elder to the rescue, which ends up escalating things only because she desperately wants to put those teenage mutant ninja turtle bandaids to use somewhere, but the wee one is vehemently (I mean, vehemently) opposed. Cue dinner burned. Then Elder has an anxiety attack about a math assignment tomorrow. The dogs out in the rain, barking barking barking. Water company calling calling calling. Oh, and I've just confirmed that, get ready, I have shingles. Awesome. Blossom.
This is nothing in terms of discomfort, though. This is a breeze compared to having tried to go a festival the day before by myself with them or compared to when the wee one was a newborn. Truly. All in a day's work. But, yet, it hit me hard this afternoon. I just wanted another hand. And just as I am thinking and praying for this extra hand, I get an email from a prospective Momma Strong member which starts out with the sentence, "I'm a homeschooling mom of 8, the oldest being 11 and the youngest 3 months."
Yeah. I think that was the actual answer to my 3 hand prayer. God/Universe/Mother Earth was like, bitch please.
Ok, so the point of this is that motherhood demands an extraordinarily high tolerance for discomfort. Extraordinarily high. We learn to be patient with children screaming in our ears when everything rational in our body wants to just yell "shut it down yo." We learn to stop important activities in their track to be a fleshy, warm, safe landing pad for sick kids or broken hearts. We give our irrational toddlers a moment of reprieve when they decide that they only will wear shirts with kitty cats even though we're already late for school. We listen to frustrations and we answer questions. And we don't always do all of these things because it feels awesome. No, we do it because it just is. This is what we do. Because. Of course. Love shows up as resiliency and resiliency swings back around to it's holder as grace and humor and wisdom - a deep breath in the midst of discomfort.
Deeper than that, though, what people may not know is that dealing with these discomforts and the ebbs/flows of our kids daily existence opens up the vacuum that is the gigantic rabbit hole to each and every one of our most deep vulnerabilities, ones that we came armed with at birth and ones that world gave us to arm.
Sickness.Ouchies.Bullies.Letting Go.Nightmares.Sharing.Possessing.Tantrums.I-wants.It's-not-fairs.Sibling Rivalry.Wild Imaginations.
And the real task of mothers, the true athleticism of mothers, is that we all learn (hopefully) that no matter what force that vacuum holds, we have to straddle those rabbit holes and stay on solid ground. It's not easy. It seems completely valid to slide down them and believe we're not enough, that our kids are not doing ok, that it's our fault, etc etc etc. It seems right sometimes to join our kids down those deep rabbit holes, protect their every breath, huddle up, and seek shelter. But, what most of us learn is that instead it is imperative that we merely lend a hand and pull them back out, or else we face the trial and error of self-sabotage and a lack of self-love. No tumbling. No hiding. No slinking into the dark recesses of our insecurities. Rather, we plant our feet on either side of the hole and offer a strong hand. Now that, folks, is athleticism.
Mothers are athletes. I mean that in every use of the word. Physically, of course we are. Mentally, hell yes. We just don't often have the sort of training we need to match those demands. We learn in the trenches nowadays, and often in isolation. We muster far too many things with two hands without asking for help. But, what if instead we started seeing ourselves as athletes? As professional athletes deserving of a full team of other professionals to keep our game on track? Dang. Wouldn't that be brilliant?
I'm working more and more on spreading the word that Momma Strong is here to nurture the athleticism required for motherhood, mentally and physically. And in honor of Thanksgiving - well ok "Momsgiving" - I'm gonna have a bonus awesome giveaway thingamagig for this here crazy shopping weekend. And I want you to share it with every mother you know that might could use a little pat on the back for being such a badass with only two hands. Let her know that Momsgiving this year will not ignore her. Send her an email or share on facebook and be like, FOR YOU. Because this is you. A gorgeous amazing woman who has learned to stay above the rabbit hole and who deserves a little help getting strong enough to do that in ways that will not cause injury or deprivation.
For anyone that signs up for the freebies (no strings attached ) TODAY, you will put on the list to get one Momma Strong program/product for only $5. The Hook. Postpartum Core Camp. You name it. It's yours and yo momma's and her momma's momma's. $5. What the what. $5. (i heart you)
Just fill out the form below and make sure to write in the referral section the following: Momsgiving. You'll receive from me an email on Friday morning with a special promo code that will give you the most fantabulous deal. Share. Spread. Tell a mom you know that you think she is amazing and that instead of a third hand, she can have access to her strength and athleticism.