It’s just a job: What Hallmark doesn’t tell you about motherhood

Today is Mother’s Day in Lebanon. That it coincides with the first day of spring gives it a more poetic, ethereal feel in my mind. On this particular day in a mother’s yearly calendar, she may be glorified, revered and generally feted for getting knocked up. It’s kind of cool. Let me get one thing out of the way first: I love my children. No, I adore them. I love them with every ounce of my being but here’s the spoiler—I don’t always like them. See, kids are hard work. They keep you up at night, regardless of their age. They put a stopgap in your career, your dreams and aspirations and they ask a lot of questions. Sometimes they drive you to drink. A lot. 

Motherhood, you see, is not the glamorous job it is cut out to be on memes, WhatsApp messages and cards. There are many things a Hallmark card does not tell you about motherhood. It is a job, like any other. And like any other job, you need skills and tools. Here are some I have found to be useful over the years.

Face shield

A face shield is particularly useful to protect from flying urine. It is particularly useful if you have baby boys, and if you happen to be the one changing their diaper.

Hazmat suit

If you are unable to find a hazmat suit, then opt for a cloth, preferably water-proof, poncho. It will protect your upper body and your clothes from milk, spit and other projected food items. It will also protect your dignity. If you spray perfume on it occasionally you may get away with changing it only once daily.

Martial arts headgear

Headgear is particularly useful if you occasionally, or always, allow your child to sleep with you. A mouthguard is an added plus although I have to say I have yet to hear of a mother’s teeth getting knocked out in the night. If unable to find, or afford, said headgear, using the face shield is better than nothing. Make sure to wipe the pee off before using.

Wine fridge or thick foam wall panelling

I will leave this one up to you for when you are too frustrated and are at risk of throwing your child out the window. I have taken the wine route myself but, a layer of fat later, may advise the wall panelling. Make sure the foam is thick and sturdy so as not to hurt your head or break the wall.

I will not mention the earplugs. I think there is not one mother in the world who doesn’t have those.

In addition to these tools, you will need a set of skills for a successful experiment. As with the earplugs, I will not mention patience. It is a given.

You will need a lot of self-love for those days when your children are reminding you exactly how bad of a job you are doing. Or they tell you that they hate you and that you are the worst mother in the world. That said, I feel quite strongly about my chocolate too.

A sense of humour. They will make fun of you, particularly your technological and cooking skills. And maths. The sooner you laugh the quicker they will stop. Try your best not to mock back, sometimes they will remind you of it many years later.

Boundless energy—so that you can essentially survive on 3 hour’s sleep a night for the rest of your life. You see, as soon as your kids start sleeping through the night you find that you’ve hit perimenopause but let’s not get started there.

Resilience—for those moments when your children make you doubt every single decision you’ve ever taken, including smiling back at their father that fateful first meeting.

Intelligence—this one’s tricky because you don’t actually have to be intelligent in the absolute. You just have to be smarter than your smartest child.

Here’s the thing with children: they push you, challenge you, drive you to the edge of despair. And back. They pull you down to the abyss and lob you back up to heaven, all in a single day.

On top of that you have to keep yourself at peak physical and mental fitness so that you may be a good role model. You have to continually strive to be a better version of yourself so that you may live up to their expectations. If you engage in a conversation with a child, you better know who you are and what you stand for: or you’ve lost the argument before you’ve even started. Children force you to recognize yourself for who you truly are and to accept yourself because they love you regardless. They continually surprise you, want to impress you, make you drawings, write you poems, buy you flowers and cook you breakfast in bed and lunch on the barbeque.

Children drive you to the nether reaches of yourself. They take you on the best rollercoaster ride of your life. So that in the end you have to thank them for allowing you this opportunity, this journey of a lifetime and for the privilege of being their mother.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the boys and girls out there. As mothers we are but the guide but you are the spirit. Thank you for letting us be part of your journey.

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