I Surrender: 48 Humbling Hours

“We are at our most powerful the moment we no longer need to be powerful.”― Eric Micha’el Leventhal

Motherhood is full of rich, deep irony.

Monday started out promising. I had a call with Dr. Margaret Quinlan, co-author of You’re Doing It Wrong!: Mothering, Media, and Medical Expertise and I was feeling so comforted, inspired, and validated by our exchange. She and co-author Bethany Johnson really honed in on fears and fascinations of motherhood for me. Tackling subjects like infertility, social media comparison, and postpartum recovery this book examines the history of mothering advice.

After the call ended a surge of confidence emerged. I had connected with these mamas and their work. I vowed to forgo concern or comparison and embrace my realities, which require no defense or explanation.

Then the pediatric dentist visit from hell happened. Screaming children, blood curdling screaming children, clung to me as if their life depended on it. I saw a chunk of my hair in my toddler’s hands. My preschooler was performing matrix-like moves that prevented physical restraint. The dental hygienist was a deer in head lights. “Make it stop,” I whispered aloud. My request was met with more thunderous tantrums but also the quickest examination by the dentist. For her speediness and silence, I am eternally grateful.

We got home in time for the same hair grabbing toddler to stick her hand in her own shit-filled diaper. Mom, forgive the language. As her sister screamed in sympathy, it dawned on me that I didn’t see a hair accessory for a dance costume on the counter. After cleaning up feces, which is a regular routine around here, and searching the house for a powder blue bow, I realized this accessory was in the abyss. To date, I haven’t found it.

I went to bed exhausted, but I clung to the belief that tomorrow would be better. This powerful mama was going to rise and shine. I woke up committed to carefree and casual adventures. I packed all the snacks, took the kids to the zoo, and congratulated myself on rebounding nicely.

Twenty minutes into the trip the same hair pulling, shit touching toddler took off running. I ran after her. The mulch hill had a slight dip to it and I awkwardly sunk into a hole. As I fell to the ground my elbows and knees met the cement and searing pain appeared in my ankle. I heard my preschooler crying. “She’s scared,” I said. I called to her that I was okay. She continued to wail. Thankfully, my friend took off running to catch my hair pulling, shit touching, running rabid toddler, who for the record, never glanced back. I limped to my preschooler so she could see that mommy was alright. When I talked to her she immediately stopped crying. “Mommy, he took my Pirate’s Booty.” Yes, her tears were because her friend took her snack. She didn’t even see me fall. Once she knew I was hurt she demanded to see my blood.

These girls humble me.

It was a tough two days. This whole week has been messy. But I’m here. I’m not comparing or lusting for something else. I surrender that I’m not all powerful and in doing so I feel stronger and more grateful.

The preschooler and I had the best snuggle tonight. The hair-pulling, shit touching, running rabid toddler said “love you” at bedtime and gave me the biggest kiss.

I’m not doing it wrong. It’s complicated, chaotic, fun, forgiving, and humbling. It’s a whole lot of other things too. For everything, I give thanks.

Happy Mother’s Day.

P.S. Join me for a fika this June.