At least, that's what I hope I said. I am still not certain whether I said "a mother" or "your mother".
When I confessed this to a priest I know well, he raised his eyebrows with a very surprised look on his face.
Yep. It's just something you should never say as a mother, and it's not how I truly feel at all - at least not 99.9 percent of the time. Most of the time I am very grateful that I get to play games with my kids in the morning and afternoon; have spontaneous conversations about important things and feelings during breakfast or on the way to school; goof around, talk in silly voices, and share our weird dreams; and to simply be there, smiling at their small or grand special moments while looking in their lovable, youthful faces.
But being a mother is a very hard job indeed. Here you are, a human with her own many imperfections and weaknesses, and you must raise little humans with their own imperfections and weaknesses. Somehow, they have to turn out more than alright, despite the fact that while raising them to be decent people, you're struggling all the while to be a decent human being yourself.
Sometimes...just sometimes, mind you...it feels humanly impossible to do this job. Like those times when all your children seem to want to do is tattle on each other, threaten each other with broom handles, say biting things to each other, call each other names and argue while doing anything at all together.
And you? Well, you're sick of hearing only a selected part of the story; telling your kids it is never okay to touch another person in a way they don't like; reminding them that family is family, and they should be grateful God blessed them with siblings; and that you will never tolerate them calling each other dumb, stupid or any other adjective that insults someone's dignity or damages their sense of worth.
All that tension and repetition is exhausting.
There are times when I wonder if working parents comprehend just what their children's paid caregivers, teachers or helping grandparents must do all day. All the boo-boos they must fix. All the sleep, nutrition and potty issues they must deal with patiently. All the arguments, temper tantrums and epic battles they must defuse. All the disciplinary challenges among different personalities they must confront effectively. All the repetitive conversations about right and wrong and making good choices.
The continual forming of children.
To be fair, they can probably guess pretty well based on the challenges they face each night, tired from a different sort of work.
Besides, we remind ourselves that the flip side to all that stress is found in the many gifts of the moment: the hilarious or revealing conversations, the laughter, the snuggles, the thank yous and pleases from a well-provided-for child, life in the moment of a child's excited, bashful, mischievous, grateful or grinning face.
Being a mother is a vital job. It's a vocation. A calling. It's essentially asking God for a share in his generative, life-affirming work and professing your dedication to it afresh each day.
It's based on Love. It has to be, or it would indeed seem like one of the most pitiable jobs in the world.
When you wistfully remember the adorable, helpless little creature your child was from the womb and recognize that with the important and consistent help of your flawed but nurturing efforts your child is blossoming and learning to become a kind, helpful, thoughtful and loving person, you realize yet again.
It's the best.