I’ve been trying to write a post about motherhood for literally weeks. If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you might be wondering how a person who writes mostly about her experiences as a mother is having trouble writing about motherhood. I’ve had this cheeky little theme about how I started thinking of motherhood as a muscle. Cute metaphor, right? And I tried approaching it several different ways, but to no avail.
I had one story almost completely written describing the ways in which my fabulous personal trainer, Gabby, worked my butt out on a daily basis. I started another post where I compared the requirements for muscle growth – tension, damage, and rest – to motherhood. Spoiler alert: That’s gonna show up later.
And then, I had yet another one that opened with a disclaimer about Kanye West. Don’t ask me to explain that connection. Let’s just say he was on one, and so was I… But then I started to realize IT IS HARD TO EXPLAIN MOTHERHOOD.
Yes, we can absolutely share our individual experiences, tips, and tricks on raising kids, which I believe we should continue to do. But somehow I was attempting to describe the entire concept of motherhood, which only left me mentally tired and sore, you know, not unlike motherhood itself.
I now have about 18 years in the game, and I cannot believe how much both my daughter and I have grown. So, I stand by the belief that motherhood is indeed a muscle. For me, it’s not necessarily about getting better, but getting stronger.
And this is how I do it.
I have to change up my routine.
Ok, let’s face it: our children mandate that we keep it fresh. Those disciplinary tactics we honed when they were three don’t work the same at age 13. In the words of Mariah Carey, “Dem babies are smart.”
The challenges of parenting become more nuanced as our children grow and we have to adapt. It’s kind of like progressively adding heavier weights to build physical muscle. You can’t stay with those measly little 3-pound dumbbells forever.
Our children’s growth necessitates our own. And just like giving birth to them, that typically comes with some pain.
I have to tell you, though, there are days when I’m really proud of just how differently I approach certain challenges, especially when it comes to managing Gabby’s emotions (and there are a lot of them these days). And all because I was willing to try something new. That said…
Sometimes, I pull a muscle.
Listen to this definition of muscle growth I found online: “For muscle breakdown and growth to occur you must force your muscles to adapt by creating stress that is different than the previous threshold your body adapted to.” If that ain’t a description of motherhood, I don’t know what is.
Raising children is inevitably stressful, but we moms often add to that by comparing ourselves to one another, trying to meet impossible standards, or just plain mom-ming too hard.
Want to know the biggest lesson I’ve learned during my daughter’s adolescence? Sometimes I just need to back off. This is a common request from most teenagers, but it’s also a reminder that sometimes I just need to let go.
Overextending myself by trying to do everything at home and meet all of Gabby’s needs has backfired many times over the years, and so I’ve learned the importance of first, being kinder to myself when I go too far, and second recognizing the signs that I need to rest. Speaking of which…
I have to rest.
You know those signs I was just talking about? Yeah, we often don’t heed them when they first show up, we tend to judge them, and then we just ignore them… until we are dog tired.
A few weeks ago, I felt myself coming down with something, which I chalked up to allergies, despite the fact that I knew the scratchy throat I was experiencing was a symptom of the last sinus infection I had. I ignored it and kept putting off going to the doctor. And then one morning, I was so out of it, I smashed my finger in my car door. After I came to from the pain, I went to the doctor.
I needed to rest. I will admit, this is hard for me because it often means asking for help, which I’m not great at. But I’m incorporating some special exercises which are starting to help.
I started going to bed by a certain time. When my friends offer to pick the kid up, so I can do something else, I say yes. And I believe in napping, when I can.
This motherhood thing ain’t easy, but sore or not, I believe the muscle we’re building is totally worth it. So, tell me, how have you taxed, stretched, and strengthened your mommy muscle lately?
Oh, and one more thing… I’ll be replacing Kanye West with Kendrick Lamar in my bio very soon. Carry on.
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This post was originally published in 2018 and has been updated.
Taralyn Caudle is a freelance writer and Huntsville native who returned to her hometown to raise her beautiful and energetic daughter, Gabby. When she’s not nurturing the talents of her budding artist, she can be found on the hunt for good food, good music, or a good deal on a pair of shoes. Practically possessed by politics, purple, and Prince, she loves alliteration (obviously) and has been known to quote music lyrics in everyday conversation, from Hall & Oates to
Kanye West Kendrick Lamar. Her current philosophy on life: a little bit of sarcasm and a whole lot of laughter never hurt anybody.