The Hard Part.

“Is being a mom hard?” she asked.


I answered without hesitation.  Fear and a desire to understand better washed over her face almost imperceptibly.  She mentioned something about working and the things we do.

“It’s not taking care of them that’s hard.  I mean, you figure that out pretty quickly, just like with anything else.”

“Right,” I saw her nod her head in my rear view mirror.

“It’s the other stuff that’s hard.  It’s knowing that you have to do more than just take care of them.  You’re raising people, you know?  I’m constantly think about how this decision or that reaction will make them turn out.  I’m afraid that I’m fucking them up.”

She laughed.  She always laughs when I say fuck, especially if we’re having a serious conversation.

“Someone told me once that it was like your heart walking around outside your body,” I continued.  “That’s the closest way to describe it.  The hard part.  The other part.  It’s like when you give birth, your heart leaves your body and it’s just out there.  Walking around with no protection.”

“Right,” she said again.

“I know it sounds like a cliche.  But everything that touches them touches you.  Every bruise, bump or fear.  Every moment of sadness or hurt.  You feel it times ten.  Nothing that could ever hurt you hurts near as badly as something hurting them.  Even just the little stuff.  Even the stuff that you know is no big deal, the things you know they’ll survive.  It’s agony to watch them hurt even for just a little while.”

“That sounds like a lot,” she said.

“It is,” I agreed.

I packed my two hearts into the back of another mother’s van this morning and sent them on a three day journey to Iowa.

They’ve been counting down the days to their summer vacation.  They’ve been making lists of all the people they’ll see – Grandma and Grandpa and Kellen and Ellie and Nana and Lil Papa, too, right?  And yes, Lil Papa too.  They’ll spend a month reconnecting with their family and they will have the time of their lives.

And they will be fine.

But this morning, Emma cried.

While Devin chatted happily in the seat next to her and tried to wrestle his Ninentdo DS from the bag beside him, Emma bit her lip and reached out for me.  And she cried.

I leaned back into the car and wrapped my arms around her again.  I kissed her perfectly soft hair as hard as I could and refused to cry.

“You’re going to have so much fun,” I whispered.

She nodded her head, but her cheeks grew more red from the tears she was struggling to hold back.  She buried her face into the fur of her stuffed bunny and tried to wipe away the ones that had escaped.

“I love you.”

She nodded again.

“Call me.  Whenever you want.  You call Mommy.  And I will see you again in just a little bit.”  My jaw hurt from the tension it took to keep my own grief hidden.

I took a deep breath and backed away from the van.  The farther our bodies got from one another, the more difficult it was to breathe.  The door slid shut, and she was still crying.  Quietly.  Trying to reconcile her eagerness to go and her sadness over leaving her mother.

I forced my lips into a smile and opened my eyes as wide as I could.  I waved as if my heart wasn’t breaking.

Oh, yes.  Being a mother is hard.  And it’s the times when you don’t get to do it that it’s the hardest.

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  1. avitable says:

    I can’t wait for Emma to get old enough to someday read these posts and get an idea of not only how much you love her (which you demonstrate to her all day long) but how much you share that with everyone else.

  2. Our daughters used to giggle when we said “fuck” too! Funny how kids are all the same.

  3. It is hard, and it never gets easier. Mine is taking his driving test today. Then he’ll be out there on the road. Driving! By himself. With other people on the road. I may never sleep again.

  4. Dawn says:

    Two things. No, three things. The first is that I agree with Adam — that’s going to be fabulous, when they can read this and say “Wow! I always knew that Mommy loved us but this… THIS is incredible!”

    Second thing. I think I told you this already but I’m nothing if not repetitive. The first year I went to sleep away camp as a kid, I sent letters home to my Dad saying, “I hate this place! Pick me up or I’m going to run away. Come get me tomorrow!!!!” And his letters in response said, “I’m glad that you’re having such a great time. Keep it up!” What an ass!!!! But later, when I was an adult, he told me that watching me go to camp — or anywhere, really — or hearing that I was unhappy — broke his heart. However, he knew that if he was pessimistic about it, then I’d never be optimistic.

    Third thing. I don’t have kids but when my best friend had her first daughter, I so bonded with this child that I turned to my friend and said, “I never understood how a parent would say that they’d throw themselves in front of a moving train to save their child before. Now, even though Emily is not my daughter, I totally get it.” She had my heart.

    Fourth thing. (I know I said it was only three things, and really, had I not read Adam’s comment it would only have been two things. Please! It’s Friday! Let me change my mind, woman!) OK. Fourth thing. Which should really be the first thing because it’s the most important one: You are an awesome mother.

  5. Summer says:

    Letting go is so hard, even for a few weeks. While your kids know you love them and believe you’re the best, they really figure that out after they have their own children. At least I did. I was in NYC over the weekend visiting my oldest and it was so sad to leave him. I called him last night and said after seeing him for 3 days straight I miss him even more. The best part was he responded, “I know”. Enjoy the time while they’re visiting family and know how good it is for them and your family.

  6. damn. that broke my heart and i wasn’t even there. i can’t imagine how difficult it was for you to put on a brave face for dear little emma. good work.

    now, since the kids are gone and you need to console yourself at the loss, i command you to drink too much tonight and to take advantage of your hubby. brown chicken brown cow now!

  7. Well put, Britt. Hope you are both fine apart.

  8. Hockeyman says:

    I liked your post, it was beautiful.

  9. Sybil Law says:

    So true, and so well written.

  10. Finn says:

    Yeah. That damn hard part.

  11. Just Me says:

    I bitch and complain when my kids are gone, just for a weekend, because “I never get any time to myself” but when they are gone…my heart hurts until they return!

  12. You are such a great mom. I love what Adam wrote in his comment and totally agree. I’m sure you show her every single day just how much you love her, but she won’t really get it until she’s older. I know my kids don’t have a clue quite how much I love them and what I would do for them. They think they do, but they just don’t.

  13. Summer says:

    Oh you’re gonna make cry! I’m leaving my boys for the first time ever for BlogHer and I know its going break my heart to get on that plane. This mommy stuff is almost too hard some days.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Summer, leaving them is always easier than them leaving me. You’ll have stuff to do to distract you and won’t be surrounded by their stuff – and you’ll know they are safe at home.

      You’ll be OK. XO

  14. Becca says:

    Britt, I totally understand!

    I didn’t think I could hurt any worse than when my dad died, but telling my girls-my princesses-just about killed me.

    I am glad you show them how much you love them, and I am glad you still let them go. Mine are leaving Sunday for two weeks, and I know they need to but good grief I just want them here.

  15. This is a beautiful post Britt. Heart-wrenching, but beautiful.

  16. Becky says:

    Perfectly put. The longest I have been away form my kids has been a week, and it was agony. But you know that they are safe and happy and with people that love them. *hugs*

  17. I’m used to not being with my daughter as a part-time mom. It’s been 5 years now, so goodbyes are pretty easy. Hellos, though, are wonderful. The first night Lauren’s with me, we can’t keep our hands to ourselves. We hold hands, and hug, and she’s very cuddly and kissy. Then she’s used to me again and becomes Little Miss Independent again. I love that she and I have this need to physically reconnect when she comes home. My mom and I don’t ever touch–rarely did as a kid, and I miss that.

    I know what you mean about being afraid you’re going to fuck up your kids. But then again, that’s part of being a parent.

    Enjoy your alone time!

  18. Simone says:

    I have tears streaming down my face, my 3 year old probaly thinks its just because we had an argument… I am dreading the day I have to say “see you have a lovely time” because I know for SURE that will break my heart… I’m dreading taking him to school next year, and saying bye to him then. Thank you for your posts Miss Britt and for your honesty I look forward to reading your posts in the morning, it makes me put things into percpective!!

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Simone, oh, honey. I am probably the last person in the world anyone should get perspective from. Heh.

      But some days it filters through nicely on the blog. ;-)

  19. Karen MEG says:

    This post brought a lump to my throat. That whole thing about everything that touches them, touches you ten-fold. So very, very true.
    And when they’re not with you or their Dad, you can’t stop thinking about them so much more.

    I’m sure they’ll have a wonderful time as usual though, those visits are really important; and your kids? Are very brave too!

  20. AmyMusing says:

    While raising one special needs boy and one very interactive boy I adopted the 90 year old neighbor down the road as my new grandmother. I’d take her shopping and to the doctor and the senior center. I DOTED on her. The thing I loved about taking care of Thelma was I never had to worry about how she was going to turn out due to my over dotage. It was a nice outlet for someone who has Doting Overload and doesn’t want to OD her kids with too much DO, and ruin them, stunt them, prevent them from being able to GET THEIR OWN GLASS OF MILK when they’re, say, 30, and coming back home to visit. Always thinking down the road, when you’re raising kids, to the kind of adult you want them to be, yet respecting that they’re kids and still need you to bend so they don’t break.

  21. Lynda says:

    So pushing something the size of a watermelon out your crotch isn’t the hard part? Check.

    (Sorry, I just can’t think of something serious to say. It’s a sweet sentiment, and you always seem like a great mom. I still hope to experience it one day.)

  22. MeanOne says:

    There was a time where I thought I might die when my son was away. It is a little easier now, but I have no idea how I’ll cope if he ever gets tired of cuddling with me.

  23. Faiqa says:

    Similar incident happened this weekend, where N. started crying at about 10p.m. on Saturday night. It took *everything* I had not to drive an hour to pick her up.

    Yes, being a mom is hard.

  24. Selma says:

    You are an amazing Mum because you let her go even though you wanted her to stay. It’s so hard to say goodbye to our little ones but it makes the day they return even sweeter. XXX

  25. perpstu says:

    I need a tissue. Trying to remain stoic when your kids are crying is the hardest thing ever. Being a mom is awesome and sucks rocks all at the same time.

  26. Colin B. says:

    This was beautiful and so touching. Sometimes I wish I could feel this too and I know that if I had children of my own I would but it’s not so easy.

    I wish more parents loved and protected and raised their children with the love you have for yours. To me you are a role model and the mistakes are part of it and no matter how much you worry you might fuck them up, you won’t. And even if you ever do, it’s part of the process of growing up. Our parents didn’t do *everything* right either and I like to think we turned out fine and know more because of it. It has taught us how to treat the next generation.

    *lots of hugs*

  27. [...] other day I read that lovely post by Miss Britt, and I have to say I couldn’t agree more with her. I’ve only been a mom [...]

  28. Kris says:

    That is EXACTLY how I feel every other weekend when I have to let my baby (2 yr old…how’d she get so big?) go to spend time with her dad. Nevermind he’s a son-of-a bitch that cheated on me while she was still growing in my tummy. I put on a brave face and tell her that she will have so much fun with her daddy and when she cries it breaks my heart. Damn kids.

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