Visiting Florida gives you a different perspective on motherhood. You encounter many women who are done with the day to day mothering of small children. Everyone tells you to enjoy the time, that their children grew much too fast. Most look back on the experience with nostalgia and say it was the best time of their lives.
I always listen to their advice very closely; I agree that the time just flies. I can't believe that my Henry is no longer a little baby and I have my Molly to love. I also agree that being a mother is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I knew, but I never really knew, how much you could love your own children.
As someone currently in the trenches, I find it interesting that they always omit how hard it is. Do they have selective memory? Do they not want to scare you? I think they are doing a disservice by not acknowledging it. Mothering a young child, especially more than one, is back-breaking work. Each day is both physically and mentally exhausting. The breastfeeding, cooking, cleaning, laundry, diaper changing, nose-wiping, lack of sleep, crying, pacing the halls ...it is all just mind-numbing and repeats itself every day. Weekends are just another day and there is no such thing as a vacation.
There are days that I feel that I am at the brink of losing my sanity. Motherhood has pushed me to the the limits of my patience. I finally get Molly down for her fifth fifteen-minute nap of the day and Henry screams in her face, waking her. I just laid my head down to sleep at night and she wakes, wanting to be fed even though she just ate an hour ago. I am flat on my back with the flu, not able to eat but I still need to produce milk to keep another person alive. I get everyone dressed in their winter clothes to go outside and someone poops through their outfit. Most of these things you can laugh off, but some days they pile up like an accident on a freeway and you just can't take it anymore.
Is it impolite to talk of these things? Does it mean that you don't like being a mother or that you don't love your children? I think not. I think older mothers should be honest about the entire picture. There will be days that you think you might lose your mind. The isolation, the tedium, the boredom, the loss of freedom that are all part of the package.
I think if women don't talk about it, then everyone feels like they are the only one that feels this way, that they are doing something wrong. That all of these things are normal, and that despite all of this there will be days you feel like your heart is going to explode with the overwhelming love for your child. That tears will come to your eyes watching your "baby" play tag with another child for the first time. That your newborn will give you a gummy smile first thing in the morning that might be the sweetest thing you have ever seen.
I think they should say that being a parent pushes you to grow in sometimes painfully uncomfortable ways, but in the end you will be a better person for having done it. And that seeing your child grow into a happy, well-adjusted person will make it all worth it. And that it was the best time of their life.