a note from Jessica: I’m thrilled to introduce you to the last and final post in my series. This post was one of the winning submissions from my reader contest. I LOVE this post by Elisabeth Alvarado. I hope it encourages you, too!
Lies Modern Moms Believe: I USED to be so together
Not long ago I was using my WIC vouchers at Walmart. As usual, I had gotten things with the wrong label or numbers of ounces, and was causing a scene with cashiers running to replace items. The two-year-old was trying to get away and the baby was snotty-nosed and fussing. People got in line behind us and left, exasperated. Red-faced and flustered, I wondered how in the world I had come to this: the entire population of Walmart thinks I am an incompetent lady.
I wanted to announce that I am in fact a COLLEGE GRADUATE, thank you very much. Deep down inside, the real me is a woman who used to write really good papers and linger over coffee to philosophize with friends. I could slip in and out of a store, unnoticed. I could even do things like finish my sentences and remember how old I was.
And here I am, mommy-brained out the wazoo. The same lady who left the back door of the van up while unloading groceries, and later tried to open the garage without looking. With a crunch, the opening garage door lodged into the van door. Yes. That lady.
Right now it’s hard to ignore the voice inside saying: you are a mess. Once upon a time, maybe you had it together. But now sleepless nights and toddlers saying no have gotten the best of you, and everyone in Walmart knows it.
Let me tell you this, mama: you are not less than you used to be.
Your “mommy brain” is not a broken brain doing less than it used to. It is a brain so busy keeping little people alive that is in overdrive. Things may not be getting DONE, it feels, but you are doing things your old self couldn’t have.
Motherhood—real motherhood—asks everything of us. It asks for our nights, our health, our bodies. The myth is that in the chaos of children we have become ragged women barely keeping it together and unable to perform simple tasks (like keeping the baby from eating paper). The truth is that the small things we do are holy, so extraordinary that no one—not even your favorite blogger—really does it all right.
This is why we forgive our mothers at this age. We realize that when we were judging them, we were imagining our best, most rested selves doing everything they did. We weren’t imagining ourselves taken over by morning sickness, sleep-deprivation and worry.
Being a mother is not better than any other thing God calls us to be, but it asks us to die to ourselves in a way that affects every second of the day and every part of our minds.
Right now I feel that. Right now I just wonder how my mother did this. Right now mommy brain is real and most days I feel like it’s all too much.
So this is the truth I preach to myself, the lady causing a scene in the Walmart line: these small things I do all day— wiping snotty noses, answering student emails while I balance a nursing baby—they are Great Things. So great, in fact, that they make me feel small. And that is when grace shines.
I take a deep breath, and let it in.
Elisabeth Alvarado is a teacher and mother to two in North Carolina. After getting a degree in Elementary Education, she lived the Peruvian jungle for two years where she met her husband Pocho. Elisabeth writes at Spanish Mama, where she shares resources for teaching Spanish and writes about being a bilingual family. Her family’s never-a-dull-moment Peruvian-American life keeps her humble and reminds her to embrace thankfulness every day.
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