Motherhood is messy. And I’m not just talking the household mess, although yes, that’s part of it. With three children ages eight and under, I am all too familiar with that part. There’s the sink full of dishes and the laundry piles that never. stop. growing. There’s the spit up and diapers and that feeling of, “Wait...did I shower today?” There are muddy boots and the grass-stained sports uniforms and toys throughout the house that provide you with a trail of evidence, allowing you to know exactly what your child has done, and where he has been, all day long. So of course, there are those types of messes, but it’s more than that.
Motherhood is messy in the physical sense too. The pregnancy itself is a miraculous nine months but, let's face it, my body is forever changed. There are the hormones that made me cry at insurance commercials, and there was my belly that just grew and grew. I now wear battle scars called stretch marks and have ahem, parts that sag and I've got bags under my eyes that just never seem to go away.
I’m proud of what my body has done, but as I expertly slip my hair into my signature messy bun and glance in the mirror, I see someone strong, but still, a bit disheveled.
And then there are the messes that can only be made by the curious hands of your toddler. Like the time my daughter, at two years old, mistook a tube of toothpaste for body lotion which she applied all over her face, her hands, and even, generously, through her hair. It was the expensive kind too. And there was also the time that the boys figured out how to open the container of fiber gummies while I was upstairs with their baby sister and they ate 45 between the both of them, when the recommended daily dose is 2. Think about what fiber does for your digestive system, and you can imagine the mess I dealt with that day. When I called Poison Control, the lady on the phone just laughed at me and told me not to make any plans for the day.
People talk about those literal kinds of messes but what people didn’t warn me about quite as much was the emotional mess you face as you navigate the windy roads of motherhood. I mean, I figured I’d have more laundry to do and bodily fluids to clean up, but I didn’t realize that my heart could feel like it might burst with pride after hearing someone give a good healthy burp, or that the same person I love with every fiber of my being could also push me to my limits of frustration. That the same children that make me cry tears of happiness because of a perfectly-timed “I love you.” or “Mommy will you lay with me?” could also make me walk into the bathroom, lock the door, and sob because I’m tired and unsure and wondering if I’m doing enough, loving enough, being enough, for them.
The eight years since becoming a mother have been a mix of emotions, responsibilities, events, of moments that punched me in the gut, made me think, made me question, made me laugh, and that continue to shape me into the mother I am. This role isn’t tidy. No, we can’t organize motherhood into neatly labeled organizational bins from Ikea, no matter how hard we try. I can, without a shadow of a doubt, say that motherhood is a monumental mess, but I can also say, without any hesitation, that it’s the most beautiful mess I could ever make.