My two year old is obsessed with washing her hands. It’s a huge ritual for her. She pushes over a chair to the sink, stands on her tippy toes, and turns on the water- hot first, then cold. She splashes gleefully and gets soaked. She strips all her clothes off because they are wet. Then she takes her diaper off just because. It can last 30 minutes if I let it. Sometimes it’s cute. Sometimes its infuriating. But it happens every day several times a day. It’s just a phase.
Moms have phases too. There’s the “newborn honeymoon phase”, the “If I don’t get some sleep tonight i will die phase”, and the “what do i do all day now that my child is in school phase”. I recently went through a phase that left me feeling confused and numb. I will call it the “I don’t identify with being a mom phase”.
It started with being overwhelmed with monotony. I mean, I do the same things every day:
Clear a path on the floor so we don’t fall and kill ourselves among the toys, crayons, school papers, packs of wipes, clothes and goldfish crackers.
Wipe snotty noses, yogurt covered cheeks and poopy bums.
Kiss boo-boos, apply band aids, hand out popsicles, wipe up popsicle puddles.
I say the same things every day (things i never thought i would have to say) like:
Please stop licking the garbage can.
You can’t leave the house without pants on.
Don’t put your pacifier in the toilet again.
Stop trying to breathe the water in the bath tub.
And repeat these things over and over and over again.
I started thinking “This isn’t me. This isn’t what I do.” I would see myself in the mirror and think “WHO ARE YOU?!” I would hear my own voice and think “Who the hell is that?”
When my kids ran up to me screaming and tugging my sleeve I would think “ Who are these strange little creatures and what do they want me to DO?”
I jest. But only a little. After so much screaming in one day sometimes all you hear is a high pitched humming sound.
This morning we had to get my 6 year old to the bus stop in the 11 degree weather and it was a huge battle to get my two year old to wear a coat, socks, shoes, anything. So she ended up in the stroller with her coat on backwards (so she couldn’t unzip and take it off) but she still managed to get her arms out and so she was in some sort of straight jacket. She had boots on that were a tad too big and so as she kicked and screamed the boots would randomly fly off into the street. I felt numb. Emotionally because I was overwhelmed with this seemingly simple job of getting the kids to the bus stop. Physically because it was 11 damn degrees out.
We got to the bus stop and the wind was bitter cold. I looked at two little faces, one streaked with tears and snots and the other just plain panicked because it was so cold. I pulled both girls to me and wrapped us all in my giant overcoat. They pressed their little faces into me and I was able to provide them a little bit of comfort. Something clicked. And just like that, the phase was over. I felt like a Mom again. A glorious, beautiful Mom.