On Motherhood and Feeling “Trapped”

trapped

Before anyone gets triggered by the title of this post, let me explain what’s been happening in my little corner of the world. I live in Portland, Oregon. A city that has, on average, almost 42 inches of rain a year. We’re used to the gray clouds and wet stuff falling from the sky. Heck, most original Portlanders (or those of us who’ve lived here 20+ years) don’t even carry umbrellas! We just suck it up and keep on moving. In comparison, we usually only get about 4.5 inches of snow.

But a week ago, over a foot of snow dropped in less than 24 hours and our beautiful city was covered in a blanket of white. When it became completely obvious that we would not be having school the following morning, I dug around in our basement for all the snow gear and the sleds and we hit our local park and its fantastic hill for 2+ hours of night sledding – the best way to sled in my opinion. The hills weren’t super fast yet, but it was magical!

The next day, we hit the hill again for some more of the same. (Did I mention that I love sledding more than anyone I know – including my own kids? I’m always the last one ready to leave. As long as my feet, head and hands are warm, I’ll stay out in this stuff all day long!)

Well, I started talking smack at the top of the hill about how “I’ll still be sledding when I’m 70!” and how I wished the snow was icier “so we could go faster!” and I even asked a fellow parent to wax up the sled for me… My 7-year-old was ready to go home, but I convinced him to go with me for one last run.

I lined us up at the top of the hill, but my patience with having to wait for our turn was really being stretched. (Did I also mention that impatience is my worst character flaw?) In order to not have to wait another second and barrel down the hill NOW!, I made a rookie mistake and moved us to the far left, where no one else was sledding, and we went flying down the hill – and straight toward the 4-inch round metal pole that held up the baseball diamond backstop. (Oh, this is why there was no line…)

I tried to steer us to the right and away from the pole, but the sled wouldn’t budge. I thought about bailing, but my son hasn’t mastered the art of this technique yet and I was concerned he wouldn’t get off with me. So, at the last moment and in an effort to avoid having my little guy crack his head open, I did this sort of full-body twist and my left leg smashed into the pole. The pain was intense and made me catch my breath. But just like Mommas the world over, I immediately checked in with Félix to make sure he was okay – not a scratch, phew!

Then I tried to get up – whoa. I was able to put some weight on it, so I knew I hadn’t broken my leg, but I’d certainly injured myself significantly and we headed for home.

By the time we were coming through the front door, whatever initial shock that had allowed me to walk the three blocks home wore off and the tears started to fall. Then my son got upset because he knew it must be bad if I was crying. A week later, I’m still hobbling – the multicolored bruise on my leg is spectacular and extends from just above my knee to just below my hip.

But that’s not the only thing that’s been bruised.

My spirit is young and feeling as though my body can’t keep up with it hit me hard this past week. I really DO want to go flying down that hill when I’m 70! So, I ice the crap out of my leg, I elevate it, I take Arnica, and I try to heal so that maybe I’ll be able to do that someday. Yet, I still feel trapped by my body – unable to do a lot of the things that I would normally be doing. Initially, I could barely walk. But even a week later, I’m slow, I’m still in pain. I have to be patient and ask for help – not my strong points.

And I’m trapped inside my house as the roads and sidewalks are still covered with ice and snow because the temperature hasn’t gotten above freezing and none of this stuff is melting.

My kids are on day #9 of no school. I’m the one that would have been on the hill every single day this past week – if only I could. My kids are over it. They don’t even want to play in the snow. And I’m so sad that I can’t. So, I end up feeling trapped in my role of Momma (this is a community-wide sentiment if my FB feed is any indication!)

Not that I don’t love my kiddos – I do, madly. But there are so many things that fall to the back burner when I’m in Momma mode… like the maintenance of this blog for one. I’ve been busy this past month doing lots of work on projects that thrill me – including turning this blog into a (gulp!) actual website – more details on that later… But it’s super hard to sit and write when I can hear all of my littles in the background.

I’m used to having a few precious hours of quiet on a weekly basis so I can think and put a few words on the page. I’m writing today with headphones on and the music is kind of loud, actually. I have to do this to quiet all of their wonderful little noises, to drown out their petty annoyances with one another (everybody’s feeling the need for just a little more space), and to lessen the Momma guilt I’m feeling as I hope that their brains will not be permanently damaged by the amount of screen time they’ve over-indulged in this past week.

But I want to speak to one other way that motherhood traps us all…

In a way that is both expected and wholly unexpected in its intensity, I’ve realized that in saying yes to this thing – motherhood – that my own destiny is trapped to the destinies of my four children.

When one of them is sick, I’m sick with worry. When one is anxious, I need to be present and find the words (where do they come from, I often wonder) that will provide comfort. When there is heartbreak, my own heart breaks a little right alongside theirs. When they talk of their futures, I am both excited for them and painfully aware that this means they are always moving away from me… a little bit more with each passing day.

So, maybe it’s okay that we are all trapped together for yet one more day.

I will finish this post. I will fix them all lunch. I will unplug all of our electronic gadgets. We will read some Harry Potter, we will play some board games. We will probably still irritate the crap out of each other – but we will miss it. All of it. Won’t we?

Ever feel “trapped” in your role as a parent – how do you gain perspective on this and cope with the demands that come with the job? I’d love to hear your responses. Please comment and share.

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8 thoughts on “On Motherhood and Feeling “Trapped”

  1. It still happens even when you are nearly 60 and all of your children are out of the house and they call with their joys, questions, concerns, and heartaches. You still want to stick your foot out and protect them from every rotten thing that can happen, and when you miss their great accomplishments, you are frustrated that you are stuck in your own life and you can’t just hang out watching theirs. Lots of luck to you, and hope you had that bruise checked.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lucinda: Thanks so much for sharing this comment with me. I can hear the same in my own mother’s voice whenever we talk on the phone – this mothering never ends, does it? I appreciate your concern about my bruise – I have a friend who is a nurse come over to take a look at it the night it happened and she told me what to look for. It’s a little bit better every day.

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  2. I hope it heals quickly! Thanks for this post. I’ve often felt trapped–and what has helped me the most are the words of other mamas like you, who make me realize that the messy feelings and conflicting emotions are normal, that life is big and untidy, complicated and rich, and that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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    • Yes to all of the messiness, and NORMALCY of the messiness, Brenna. I think that piece is something that I want all Mommas to know – life is not what you expect it to be, but it is so much more than you expected it to be as well. Like you say here – complicated and rich. XO

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  3. Oh yep I often feel trapped! It’s hard when we were professional women before kids and still yearn to get back to that life where we had complete freedom and optimal intellectual development and progression. I think this is an important discussion to have and we shouldn’t feel guilty about it, yes of course we love our kids to the moon and back and wouldn’t have it any other way, but it’s hard having to juggle our attention between so many things and to accept that the time we can devote to our own intellectual pursuits is limited – at least for now. Thanks for sharing this, and it helps to know I’m not alone with feeling trapped – not always, but certainly on a regular basis! Thanks Barb 🙂

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    • I think there’s a lot of pressure on us, still, to be able to give everything we do 100%, 100% of the time – and that’s just not possible. So, I’m glad to hear you say that you think this is an important discussion to be having – and I also agree with you that there shouldn’t be any guilt about it. That shouldn’t reflect negatively on our parenting and there shouldn’t be any judgement around being honest and authentic that some days we love it, and other days we might not. It’s true of everything in life, I think. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. I so appreciate it!

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  4. Well, this is telling. I just now got around to reading this post. You published it when I was “trapped” in the final weeks of pregnancy, and until today I’ve been “trapped” by newborn care-taking. Today was his first day of daycare. (Ha-le-lu-jah!!!) I feel like I’m coming to the surface again and looking around at all the stuff that was just put aside, my brain marking it as “something to take care of later.” Well, later is here now. And I have to say, it is glorious to take a break. 🙂

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  5. Congratulations on surfacing! Having a little bit of time returned to you, JUST YOU, is so life-giving, isn’t it? Just make sure that in taking care of all of the “somethings” that were put on the back burner, that you carve out a little time to take care of yourself as well. You are a warrior Momma and you deserve a little tie to just sit, breathe and be still in a house/or at work without being in full Momma mode. I have been so crazy busy this Spring, that I am way off on catching up on your blog. I have a conference this Friday and THEN! some breathing room. Looking forward to it!

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