On Tuesday, I did the laundry.
If I were making a list of the day’s accomplishments, that would be it. To be fair, that doesn’t account for the shoes taken on and off, the teeth brushed, the car seats buckled, the water bottles filled, the diapers changed, or the treaties negotiated between impassioned toddlers.
It was only after I waded through a sea of toys, sidestepping half packed moving boxes to sweep the dried macaroni noodles off the ground, that I realized another day had come to a close.
Most days, parenting young children doesn’t look the way I thought it would. I don’t know where any of us got the idea that our priorities and the needs of our children could coexist without conflict. I blame Instagram. What I do know, is that more and more, it feels like my time is no longer my own. It belongs to someone’s schedule, someone’s nap, someone’s crisis. It belongs to someone else.
Before I had children, I thought that becoming a mother would be just another part of who I was, moving to the top of my resume like my latest accomplishment. But if you ask the three little humans who fill my waking hours, to them, motherhood isn’t just part of my identity, it is my identity.
Today, on Mother’s Day, I can’t help but recognize how much being a mother has changed my life. It’s changed my priorities, it’s changed my outlook, and it’s certainly changed how I fill my days. Some change I’ve welcomed, and some I’m still struggling to accept.
For me, one of the hardest adjustments was this: as parents, this time is not ours.
Don’t get me wrong, motherhood has given me far more than it’s taken from me. It’s been humbling, and empowering, and after unintentionally delivering one of those children unmedicated, it’s unearthed a confidence and strength I didn’t know existed. Raising children, and watching them grow, is one of life’s great privileges.
But, I think that we all lose something when we become parents. Parenthood bears a great responsibility, one that can sometimes be accompanied by confusing feelings of loss. Loss of your time, of your freedom, and sometimes, of yourself. And on the days we feel forgotten or overlooked, it can be hard to accept. But maybe that loss, the one we push deep down because of how guilty it makes us feel, just makes room for all the other things our children give us in return. Maybe we wake up each morning to do it all over again because that temporary loss is replaced with something more beautiful, more fulfilling, and more permanent.
Because one day, the toys will disappear and the floors will be clean, and I’m told it will have all gone too quickly. And the time will be mine again.
This time is not ours, but it’s worth it. Even on Tuesdays.