I walked around to a different window to have a better look. The deer was indeed at the bottom of the hill, apparently having been dragged down it by not one, but three baby deer, all clamoring to nurse.
“I understand, sistah,” I announced out the window. Not that I’ve ever nursed three babies at one time. Nor did my babies ever yank me down a hill, though I did once slide down my icy driveway sideways after stopping to adjust my toddler’s car seat and find a tossed toy. I almost wound up at the bottom of the very same hill.
What I was offering (to an animal who does not understand English, I realize) was Motherhood Solidarity. I was simply acknowledging that sometimes, motherhood yanks you backwards. One minute you’re heading somewhere, and the next, you’re digging between couch cushions for a shin guard/light-up sneaker/beloved blankey/math homework/medical form that you just had notarized yesterday– the same day they were due at the school/camp/sports club/whatev. One minute you’re adding hours at work and the next, you’re taking the afternoon off to go find out if your child just has a cold or strep throat. One minute you’re picking out preschools, and the next, you’re in a neurologist’s office talking about autism. One minute you’re catching your toddler as she comes down the slide and the next, you’re rooting through your teen’s car because you swear you smelled pot.
Now, here is where I’m supposed to turn sweet and talk about how wonderful motherhood is, and how I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And I wouldn’t. But if you were yanked down the proverbial hill by motherhood today (or any day), let’s just sit with that for a moment. Let’s acknowledge that it was a wallop upside your head or maybe simply a minor, yet notable disappointment. Or maybe it was an embarrassingly loud temper tantrum in the kids’ clothing section at Target while — and you’re certain about this — all the other adults in the store judged your (in)ability to control your own kid.
Whatever it was, it was a sudden, unexpected yank backwards. And no matter how many millions of mothers, whether they have two feet or four, have been through what you’re enduring, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it affects you. That it upsets you. That it hurts you. That it makes you sad or mad or chips away at your self-confidence. That it makes you want to hide in the bathroom and text your best friend to reminisce about the summer you spent playing volleyball on the beach all day and bartending at night — back when sleep wasn’t the elusive quest it’s been since you became a mother. That sometimes, motherhood drags you down the hill that you’ve just climbed up.
Let’s acknowledge that motherhood can be hard, and that in doing so, it really doesn’t warrant the predictable onslaught of commenters, with or without children, who will insist such things as “But you chose to be a mother.” As though that negates any mention that perhaps simultaneously corraling your wandering and soon-to-be whining kids around a shopping cart while you try to find the #$%! peanut butter that’s supposed to be on sale can be a pain in the ass. As though feeling like tearing your hair out while someone small is talking to you through the bathroom door about that loud crash you just heard means there’s something wrong with you.
I’ll say it again: There’s nothing wrong with wishing you could just keep moving forward. Just like, no doubt, that momma deer wanted.
At the bottom of the hill, she stopped a moment and let her babies battle it out with each other over nursing a while. Then she walked around the hill and kept on moving, her little ones now lined up behind her as they made their way alongside my driveway to wherever they were headed.
I turned away from the window and thought, I really do understand.