For me, motherhood isn't mostly hard, but so worth it.
It isn't easy, either.
Motherhood isn't running me ragged. It's not a reason to break open a bottle of wine with my girlfriends! It's not missed showers and unbrushed teeth, and we're all getting through this together.
For me, motherhood is a hand, holding my face into the soil after it rains. Motherhood is the snapping of limbs, the splitting of swollen skin. It is the painstaking formation of a skeleton, growing grain by grain.
Motherhood made a person out of me. Of course it created my mommy character, frazzled and isolated and in love. It turned me into a person who can sleep at night. It gave me songs to sing, eyes for early mornings. It gave me a deep well of otherworldly patience. It did all of those things, but there is more to this than what you see. There is more to this than being able to fold a stroller and wrestle it into the trunk, one handed.
I didn't come from anywhere.
My childhood was a river of sorrow, and I was a bobbing shard of debris. I hated myself from the moment I was born. I blamed myself for the dysfunction of the adults in my life. I was born bad. If I hadn't been born with such a big mouth and so needy, my mother might have been happy. If I hadn't been born like a skinless baby bird, if I hadn't always been reaching my face skyward, my dad could have loved me.
I was a selfish child. I wanted to talk to my mother too much. I was sensitive. The things my father did hurt me, ripped my self-esteem away like the skin from an only nearly-dead rabbit. I hung from the branch of a tree, hemorrhaging.
I learned how to be desperate, early on. I wasn't one of those kids who could make their eyes go blank. I was big, too. I didn't know how to fold into myself, putting my wing over my head. I was slippery and pink and wet. I cried out loud. I floundered and wailed. I made deals. I stole things from my mother, picking through her jewelry box full of plastic stones and pins silently, my heart thudding in my chest. Left alone, I would go through my parent's bedroom like a quiet criminal, looking for pieces of them.
I wanted to eat them. I wanted to eat everything. I wanted to be full. I made cuts on my body that didn't bleed. I took pills from people's bathrooms. I dangled from a rope until I was bled white. I got angry.
My anger kept me company at the alter. It held my hand, forced its way down my throat, under everything that was looming, holy. My anger became like god. It moved mountains. It gave me strength. I took things that weren't mine. It gave me iron in my blood, allowed things to clot and harden on the surface of me. Every dig, every comment, every time someone suggested that I wasn't good enough, I tore their intentions from their open palms, leaving dark smears that made them cringe and wipe their hands on their pants. Every suggestion of my failure, I coveted them, crushed them between my fingers and ate them hungrily. I was hungry and I ate my failure.
The only way to escape the stains was to dream. I loved music. I talked to myself in the night. I stopped trying. I started making things up. I told lies. I grew up and let boys from bad homes, boys without homes, boys who were no longer human, boys who spent the night in jail, boys who shoved me and ripped the pages from my books, boys who laughed at me, who held holy court with other girls in my bed. I let them piss all over me. I stuck a needle in my arm. I woke up in the morning with a humming fear in my bones, making my teeth chatter and my lips numb.
I drowned in a sea of shit. I laid down in the gutter. In the morning, men came and took me away in trucks that were mechanized to crush and squeeze and destroy me. I laid my head on a mountain of filth, slept there, and stayed so long I became fused with the dark and the maggots. I was crushed so many times, in so many ways, I turned to dust and spread myself thinly over the surface of the earth. Nobody would know me, now.
I met the love of my life there. He was bent and bloody, too. He was mangled and sick. He is now the father of my children. They are my motherhood. They are my dishes and boredom and girl's night. They are my worn down athletic shoes and skipped showers. Becoming a mother was peeling away the scab of anger that covered me, it was torturing myself, remembering how I wasn't loved. It was gathering all the parts of myself that had been obliterated, and breathing life into them. It was the sting of a limb filling with blood. It was the first breath of a ragged, torn lung. Motherhood is hard for me because it is hard to build a person out of shit. It is hard to make something perfect and dewy and clean and new where there was only ash and spit. It is hard to live without dying, but it is the easiest thing in the world, too.
It is easy to love someone when you weren't loved. It's all I've been dreaming about, my whole life. The light of this love, it's what I dreamed with my face in the mud. It is the sound I heard in music. It is why I went away and died, scattered like the stars on a black sky. I preserved my love in a vial of salt.