Tonawanda News

May 9, 2013

KEPPELER: Ugly, exhausted, furious motherhood

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — I’m writing this column through a slight haze, the sort of oddly-awake-but-weary mood that comes from far too little sleep and probably far too much coffee.

It only seems appropriate, given the topic. I’ve been in this state often before, but in the past nine years, I owe it to parenthood more than anything else. And while I was pondering the news of the day and hoping the column fairy would bestow some sort of inspiration upon this tired mind, I started thinking about Mother’s Day.

You see lots of odes to the maternal nature this time of year, for obvious reasons. There are ads full of expensive roses and pearls and perfume and chocolate and shoes, all things moms supposedly love. There are images of smiling children and sparkling houses and beautifully set tables. There are commercials with moms who smile gently and clean up in their family’s wake.

I laugh at them. 

Sometimes it’s good-naturedly. Sometimes it’s with an edge of hysteria. 

That’s not motherhood. OK, I suppose it might be, rarely, for a certain type of mom, but I can’t see it for anyone who’s really down in the trenches. 

Motherhood is hard work. It’s really hard work. (I should, of course, say that parenthood is hard work. But we’re talking about Mother’s Day here, guys, so you’ll have to accept that I believe it’s an equal opportunity endeavor ... or should be.) It’s not posies and pearls. And it’s not easy.

It’s having to block the bathroom door with your foot (of course, the lock has been disabled so little hands can’t lock themselves in) so that you can get a mere 10 seconds of privacy before some sort of crisis erupts. (”Mommy! Help! Help! The Wii controller needs new batteries!”)

It’s missing the extended family’s Mother’s Day brunch to cuddle, entertain and clean up vomit from a sick toddler who insisted he only needed Mommy. (At least until everyone else leaves. Then he only wants Daddy.)

It’s having to pick up and leave an event to which you’d looked forward for months just to prove a point — “We will leave if you won’t knock that off” — to a recalcitrant preschooler.

It’s sitting up all night holding a sick child upright so they can sleep with a congested head ... when not batting an eyelash the next day when they tearfully exclaim “You don’t love me!” when you won’t allow them a second cookie.

It’s biting back cuss words when you see what happened to your new jacket. (Thank heavens those markers were washable.) It’s not saying something you’ll regret when accidents happen. (Like that cup of juice knocked all over your new book.)

It’s being so angry you could scream and biting it back with a long, shaky, deep breath.

It’s not crawling up into a tiny ball and dying when you realize what the brown goop was that your toddler used to fingerpaint on the walls of his room. (And here you thought he was playing nicely with his toy trains.)

It’s visiting the inside of every bathroom in Disney World when you’re on vacation while potty-training. It’s trotting back to the nearest one when you’re told, “I hafta use the potty!” for the third time in 15 minutes ... because that just might be the time they really do it.

It’s biting your tongue when you realize what the smirk on your own mother’s face means, the first time you utter the words “Just ignore him!” to one child in regard to the other in her presence. (I have a younger brother myself. Enough said.)

It’s, somehow, somewhere, knowing that it’s all worth it.

So, here’s to motherhood. It’s disgusting. It’s exhausting. It’s difficult and it’s frustrating and often, it’s downright ugly.

And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at