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Being a mom isn't easy. It's not always smiles and hugs and "I love yous." It's filled with tears, snot, poopy diapers, and by some point, most moms have even heard "I hate you" a time or two. So, why do we do it? Why do we become mothers? Is it for the attention we draw when we're at the grocery store with a screaming toddler? Or the sleepless nights with a colicky infant? Maybe it was an accident. Not all mothers planned to be mothers, but here we are. Regardless of the events leading up to it, planned or accidental, rich or poor, being a mother is not easy.
I am just shy of 26 years old, recently married, with two boys. My six-year-old, Mikah, is from an earlier relationship, and my husband and I have an 11-month-old, Kyle. We also made the crazy decision to adopt a pitbull puppy at eight weeks; she is now nine months old and her name is Malibu—yes, I named her after coconut rum. We bought our first home in Sandy, Oregon and just celebrated our first holiday season as a family of five. Did I mention I'm a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM)? Well, there's that. Remember when I said "being a mother isn't easy..." let's get down to it then.
When I found out I was pregnant with my first son, Mikah, I was 18 years old. My boyfriend at the time and I were helping his older brother move to a military base is Southern California. It was two days after Christmas and my period was late, so we found a convenience store and stacked up on munchies, sugary drinks, and a pregnancy test. After a long day of driving, we checked into our hotel and I headed to the bathroom to pee on a stick. Three minutes later we were standing outside, looking at Hollywood Boulevard, and wondering what the hell we were going to tell our parents.
Fast-forward nine months, and our beautiful baby boy was born looking just like his daddy. No epidural or pain medication. I thought I was going to die. The doctors couldn't control my bleeding and I ended up staying in the hospital for an extra day. Once we were home, reality set in. I was a mom. I created a life inside of my body and now he was staring right into my eyes. I wish I could say it was love at first sight, but it wasn't. Yes, I loved him, but my brain was so full of emotions and unbalanced chemicals that I couldn't comprehend what that meant. The next couple of months felt like a blur as I began falling into severe postpartum depression (PPD). I was angry at everyone and everything, I hated my body, and I didn't want to be alive anymore. The PPD soon developed into an eating disorder and borderline personality disorder (BPD).
For the next two-and-a-half years, I was prescribed at least 10 different medications, assigned to a therapist, and ended up in the emergency room on suicide watch. This was just weeks after Mikah's dad and I split up, nine days before our wedding. Now, I won't go into details here, but it was the most painful and misunderstood experience I have ever been through. After a little persuasion and self-reflection, I agreed to be admitted to a voluntary mental health facility for seven to 14 days. Boy, did I learn a lot about myself. Mikah's dad brought him to visit and I knew that I had to get better. When I was released, I started picking up the pieces of my life and tried putting them back together as best I could. I did my best to prove myself to everyone, especially my son. Everything I did was for him. My PPD took away my chance to experience the initial bond a lot of mothers have with their newborns, so I had a lot of making up to do. Nothing I did seemed good enough for him, but he never failed to tell me he loved me every night. And then it hit me—he was just happy to have his momma. It. Was. Hard.
Two years went by and I had convinced myself that I was content with the idea of dying alone with 30 cats because who could love someone so incredibly defective? I'll give you a hint: He's my husband. We met at a bar. Yes, a bar. And that, my friends, was love at first sight. Our relationship moved faster than lightning and burned with the passion of a thousand suns. I fell in love with everything about him and soon realized why it never worked with anyone else. Six months passed, and we were pregnant, somewhat planned this time around. A month after that, he proposed on a boat in the middle of a lake at sunset. The pregnancy was unlike anything I had ever gone through. It was terrible and I would not wish it on my worst enemy. The delivery, on the other hand, was outstanding. I will be forever thankful to the labor and delivery team that we had. It was a blessing. Kyle was perfect, and I experienced love at first sight for the second time in my life. After resolving some complications with his health, we were sent home to be with our baby.
I was told by so many people, "the second one will be easier," and I would like to throat-punch every single one of you. Not only was Kyle the most inconsolable infant, but he still refuses to sleep longer than two hours at a time or let me out of his sight. Most don't believe me when I talk about how difficult he is, or how exhausted I am from trying to keep up with his antics. Mikah, however, was the simplest baby. Rarely did he cry or make a fuss about going to sleep. He was happy around anyone and everyone—except my older sister, but we were never able to figure that one out. They get along great now, don't worry. His toddler years were rough at times, but he went through a lot with his dad and I splitting up, and losing time with me for a short while. He started kindergarten this year and is exceeding. He is one of Kyle's favorite people, and he doesn't have many of those. The love my boys have for each other is infinite. I couldn't be more proud to call them mine.
Being a mom isn't easy because it's about so much more than just "being a mom." You have to be willing to sacrifice so much, compromise on nearly everything, and accept the fact that your life will never be as easy as it was before you brought life into the world. I drink a glass of wine every night, if not two. And yes, I smoke a bowl now and then to calm my nerves and ease my anxiety. I have locked myself in the bathroom with a screaming child in his crib for five minutes of sanity. Dinner has consisted of a combination of snack foods when the cupboards are running low. Baths don't happen every night, and sometimes I forget to remind Mikah to brush his teeth before bed. I swear in front them and call them assholes when they aren't listening, aside from the time that I said it to Mikah's face on accident, then cried when I apologized for getting angry. I am not afraid to admit that I'm not the perfect mother, and I would never want to be. My boys, my little assholes, love me for me. I show them love every day, tickle them, teach them, and raise them right in a world full of wrong. But beyond all of those things, the hardest part of being a mother is that, some day, you will have to let them go. Luckily, I still have some time left where I will be their number one, but that time lessens each day. Each minute. So, as difficult as it may be, I will continue to be their hot mess of a mom, making mistakes, and I can only hope that they will take all the love and lessons with them when it's their time to face the world on their own.