I can’t say that I’m not laying next to a pee stain on my bed. Yes, yes…motherhood is beautiful. It is. It’s perfectly scrubbed babies in expensive ruffle pants in a field of wildflowers. But what about the moments you don’t photograph?
Sometimes you have to leave the baby crying on the bed so you can just…go pee. You rush past piles of laundry, sidestep a tied grocery bag with dirty diapers in it…that you have thankfully dropped in front of a small space heater, you quickly sit on a toilet of questionable cleanliness…all the while hearing your infant scream…and blast out a stream so powerful that it probably chipped the porcelain. Then you scurry back to your baby, pick her up; she immediately quiets and you pick up where she left off, sobbing your heart out. Why am I crying??
In 9th grade, I was voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” I was copy editor of the newspaper, captain of cheerleading, president of Honor Society, Quizbowl captain…and I forget what else. I used to have my list memorized better. I’m not sure what everyone else had in mind for my future when they picked me, probably not this scene of real life
I worked at Braums when I was 16, ice cream crusted on the back of my arms up to my elbow and beyond, smelling like old fries, wearing this “girl version” baseball hat that had a small bill but was tall enough for Marge Simpson’s hair…in case she ever showed up to work alongside me. I was sloshing water all over myself washing the huge dishes one night, and my shift manager leans on the stainless sink and says to me, “Why did you want to come work here? You should be doing something glamorous.” He probably didn’t mean–crying while I hold my 5th daughter, alone in a filthy bedroom, no chance of a shower today.
I boxed up my life and moved and unpacked and hung photos into 5 different houses in a span of 2.5 years. I’m no victim, but my life is no conventional fairy tale either. “You are where you are because of the choices you made.” Dad used to always say that. He had a lot of tough love sayings. But he didn’t say anything the night I called pleading, “Dad, you would never leave Mom. How do I make him stay? What do I need to change? What do I say?” It was the choices I had made, but Dad didn’t say that this time, “Emily, I don’t know.”
Change the baby’s huge diaper, she pees on my bed during, toss it next to the tied Walmart bag, finish up crying, roll to the dry side of the bed, nurse her…
I am a success. You don’t have to agree. It’s not your story.