Mama’s Baby…grandma’s maybe?

Was it possible for laundry to make you physically sick?

What about a crying baby?

Laundry. Babies. Dishes. On repeat. Life just seemed so mundane.

“Well what did you expect when you were having all these babies?”

Her mother’s words rang in her head.

She expected, she guessed, that she would have help. She expected shared excitement, support, and all around joy.

She expected more than “well you seem happy” from her mother at the announcement that she, a grown married woman, was pregnant.

She expected a baby shower, or at least her mother’s attendance at the baby showers planned by other people; especially since her mother had thrown several baby showers for girls at her church that she had hardly even known.

Maybe this was all unrealistic, but it’s how she had grown up: always, she and her siblings, at an aunt’s or uncle’s, or grandparent’s house. Isn’t that how people raise kids?

At the least, how had her mother not expected to play the same role for her daughter that just a few years ago, so many people had played for her?

She could so vividly remember early evenings, long summers, and late nights with her semi-present grandmother wondering when her mother would leave work and come home.

Bedtime. It would usually be bed time.

“Most of the time,” her mother confessed one day in a recent conversation over the phone, “I would just be at the shop like ‘mama got them kids…shoot, Imma sit right here and have me a drink.”

Drinking. While she sat at her grandmother’s house missing her mother, wondering why she worked so long, it turns out, she wasn’t even working at all. Instead she was just sitting in the hair salon she owned avoiding her children and drinking.

So when her mother venemously asked this question, “what did you expect”, it initially stung and threw her off a bit because she simply had not been expecting to hear it. Later after review though, she felt confused, angry, and downright indignant.

Did her mother really feel that? Had she truly forgotten how much help that she, herself had gotten? Had her mother simply forgotten how maddening 24/7 365 baby duty could be? If her mother had suffered similarly in the baby season of her life, had she really willed the same misery for her own daughter?

Was any of this normal?

She wasn’t sure, but she knew it was frustrating and that it hurt.

One day at a time. She concluded that she would take it one day at a time. One minute at a time even. She loved her kids and battled daily to release herself from her own expectation to perfectly be everything to them at every second of every minute. This, she had finally concluded, was not normal. So she was easier on herself these days, and she took breaks where she could.

But today, at this moment, she was just tired.

“You okay?” her husband asked.

“No. I want to lay out on the floor and throw a tantrum like our children get to (although as she thought about it in that moment, they actually never did that. God is merciful).” Anyway, that’s what she wanted to say, but instead she just said,

“I will be. I just need a minute.” He understood, for in their isolation they both had these moments. He rubbed her back and kissed her and left her alone with her thoughts and her pen.

“If nothing else,” she thought, “this will all make for a great book some day.”

And with that. She began (again) to write…

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