Do you know why?
Because motherhood can take it. Because there is nothing stronger.
I can tear it up, brutalize it, make fun of it in every way possible, tease the darkest corners, shed light in the most covered places…and yet she stands undiminished, untouched. She barely hears me. She raises a disinterested brow for a moment, maybe, but then goes on, being her.
Like the friend with whom all barriers are broken, motherhood and I have gone the lengths. We’ve already beaten each other, or tried: She won. We’ve stood face to face in the firing line.
I’ve fought her in a million rings. She wins every time.
I’ve told her to get out. I’ve laughed in her face. I’ve sworn I would force her out.
She sits like a ghost in the easy chair. Never moves a muscle.
You know she’s dished out more than I can ever give with my words, on this blog or a thousand blogs.
She made me a woman I wasn’t ready to become. She throws me every day into the mercy of the universe: through pregnancy, birth, parenthood – my whole existence begs for my kids to keep living, for their hearts to keep beating, for their feet to find loving ground, from the moments of their births I’ve been enslaved. To her. To them.
And yet not.
For I am myself still, independently, and I’ve got this mind and heart and ambition, and it appears I’ll never fully reconcile the two.
There’s nothing gentle about that.
You think a mother’s love is gentle?
My love will kick your ass. Don’t believe me? Try to hurt my kid.
My love is a muddy soldier charging enemy lines. Why? Because there is no other choice. This is where we are. This is what we’re doing. It doesn’t matter that I’m tired and broken and somewhat disinterested. It doesn’t matter that it’s Saturday or I’m alone or my last baby passed away.
You get up. You move your feet. Motherhood wins again.
sweat and blood and work. grit and dirt and bruises.
I’m dragged through the mud crying, but begging for it never to change.
Please don’t leave me, motherhood. I’m nothing without you. But I wish, sometimes, you’d kindly go fuck yourself.
My love is the struggle of a drowning man catching air. My tenacity will amaze you.
My love is woman offering her breast to a starving child, knowing there’s no milk.
My love would kill me in an instant, for my baby.
And it would kill you too, for my baby.
Do you think she gets hurts feelings when I make fun of her, when I belittle her, when I voice my little fears and agonies and jab at her ribs?
You think she cares?
No. She doesn’t. Because motherhood has nothing to prove. She’s the one with the power and she knows it. WE BOTH KNOW IT. The one with the power sits back and relaxes. No bluster or fear.
I’m like an annoying puppy nipping at her heels. She kicks me aside without a word.
She knows I’ve got nothing on her, and I’ll kneel at her feet in adoration at any moment, because she’s given it all to me: my heart, my future, my life, in separate souls, these babies who caught me up in their gorgeous little hands and touched my head, with a kiss: “Mama.”
And I’ll fall at her knees to hear that voice again, to hear it always, to know it’s still me.
And I’ll fight whatever fight’s necessary to make her keep on loving me, motherhood. I’ll fight for you, you sick twisted fuck.
Knowing you are eating me alive, each day as I wake up exhausted without any answers, lying on the floor searching for peace, to know how to give the girl what she needs, and the boy eyes to read, and the baby. I’m just gone too much.
And I’m just so in love.
So yes, world, this Mother’s Day, you’ll find me talking shit about motherhood. You’ll find me laughing my ass off. You’ll find me dripping with sarcasm and saying things I shouldn’t in an unfeminine and unladylike manner. And you’ll say I’m diminishing a mother’s value.
But I disagree.
I just want to know: Why do I bother you so? My tongue, my attitude, my rugged irreverence?
What about the grit, the incredibly HARD WORK of my life makes you so uncomfortable?
Does it not fit your marketing, your Hallmark card? Does it make your Lifetime movie seem irrelevant? Do you have to rethink your own mother?
Or are you afraid? Are you just simply terrified?
To see us as we are….or can be…?
fierce, mouthy warriors,
fighters and shit-talkers.
Burly and ripped and sweaty and so goddamn powerful, the toughest motherfuckers you’ve ever seen,
offering the softest breast to a petal mouth seeking, a feather brush on a newborn’s cheek, the most delicate pink, a baby’s soft spot, a “hush” from a loving mouth, she enfolds a tiny creature of perfect vulnerability into stone security, a broken little being —
catching the exhausted of the world in muscle-ripped arms,
pulling small falling hands into her own calloused palms,
and kissing them a thousand times, sending them on their way, to build their own.
Is it too much for you, that we exist like this, in perfect contradiction? Is it too much for you that we are all of it, right now, at once?
Then go. Good riddance.
If you can’t take our heat, get the hell out of our kitchens.
Your bellies aren’t the ones we’re living to fill anyway.
And honestly, motherhood doesn’t have time for this shit.
And we aren’t going to write a new story for you, because it’s more palatable, more pleasant. We aren’t going to invent something to soothe your desires.
This is us. This is it.
This is Mother’s Day….
JessicaWednesday, 8 May, 2013 at 16:08
Have I Told you lately how much I love you? Without ever having graced your presence, I am connected to you because we feel the same way about this one thing. And you wrote about it so fucking perfectly.
renegademamaWednesday, 8 May, 2013 at 16:49
Thank you, Jess. I love you too. We need to meet one of these days.
jessicaWednesday, 8 May, 2013 at 18:10
erikaWednesday, 8 May, 2013 at 16:41
On a day that I am running on 2 hours of sleep, thank you.
On a day when I gave myself three time-outs, thank you.
On a day that found me sitting on the bathroom floor with a screaming toddler because he couldn’t pee standing up, thank you.
On a day that I can’t wait to be over because tomorrow is already creeping in, thank you.
I love what you say/write.
renegademamaWednesday, 8 May, 2013 at 16:48
Right? I mean most days are hard, rugged, brutal work, and yet we’re expected to run around in some “delicate” and “feminine” and “soft” way. SOFT doesn’t cut it. We’ve gotta be TOUGH. And soft.
But mostly tough.
Thank you for reading, and thank you for your honesty.
carolynWednesday, 8 May, 2013 at 17:18
And it doesn’t get any easier! You continue to give -even when you have nothing left to give. Your time , your money, even your life ,you would give to your child. They don’t have to be infants and more than likely they are not. Homework, term papers , follow them to sports practice ,band -wait in car till they get out of work and don’t have own car! Worry about late nights out/or worse no nights out! Once you signed on for motherhood, this is your life! The only thing I can say is sit back and enjoy the ride!
BrinWednesday, 8 May, 2013 at 17:32
Amen to all of this!
NedraWednesday, 8 May, 2013 at 18:55
LeahWednesday, 8 May, 2013 at 19:05
Thank you!! From the mother of three boys born two years apart, there is no bouquet of flowers or printed card that aptly captures the shit show that consumes my every day. You got it right though here. Thank you!!
Jenn MarshallWednesday, 8 May, 2013 at 19:12
Amen, mama!! Loved this. So true. Every. Single. Word.
Happy Mother’s Day. 🙂
Rebecca HayhurstWednesday, 8 May, 2013 at 19:33
Love this post so goddamn much, with a fierce mama bear warrior heart. Carry on, Mama.
dixiebelleWednesday, 8 May, 2013 at 20:18
BridgetteWednesday, 8 May, 2013 at 21:51
As always you kill me with your perfect words. We are warriors and it gets really real and deep and shitty. But I will soldier on, because I can’t not.
Kateri Von StealThursday, 9 May, 2013 at 5:38
This is the Battle Cry for Mothers!
I loved it. I almost want to print it out on aged paper, with a cool ass font, and put it in a frame. Hang that shit on the wall, and say… Look at that.. That’s my Battle Cry.
Rock On Fellow Mama…Rock the Hell On!
BCMamaThursday, 9 May, 2013 at 8:34
On a day when I can’t get my head out of the toilet from this all day “morning sickness”, while trying to hide it from my other two, your words have put wind in my sails. Fuck yeah, we are awesome.
KimThursday, 9 May, 2013 at 9:01
All i can say is damn! I love you and your voice! And because of your words I love me on this mother’s day! And because of your words I love my mom even more!
JodiThursday, 9 May, 2013 at 13:28
Thank you! Needed a post like this today! Cheers to all the moms who gut it out everyday, Hallmark will never get motherhood, the way us mom’s do!
Miriam Stone WilsonThursday, 9 May, 2013 at 14:57
Motherhood is one strong mother effer! I love your image of it, full of paradoxes and strength. This is beautiful, and I hope you enjoy a wonderful mother’s day.
HeatherFriday, 10 May, 2013 at 11:11
How is it that the words you write across the pages are always the same words in my heart! This is beautiful!! I Love this…and you! <3 Happy Mother's Day!
AmySunday, 12 May, 2013 at 3:50
Janelle, you did it again–awesome, spot-on post!
AleciaTuesday, 14 May, 2013 at 3:34
I don’t comment, but often read your posts. Having to pick the blogs I frequent and enjoy most yours was one of them.
cortne martinWednesday, 15 May, 2013 at 14:55
Why did it take me this long to find you! Wow. That was kick a awesome. Which line do I like best, all of them I guess. So true. Love your writing. I teared up and laughed all while saying ummmhmmm…go mama.
mamaellieSunday, 19 May, 2013 at 10:21
Wow. I Just found your blog. Baby has pneumonia, oldest is sick for the 15th time with something they can’t give me a name for, I haven’t had more than 3 consecutive hours of sleep this week and every one of them forgot mothers day. But I’ll step up again today and do it. Later baby boy will give me sweet hot feverish kisses all over my face just like he did last night in the ER. You captured the experience so perfectly in your post. I loved this today. Love your blog!
JustineTuesday, 21 May, 2013 at 19:59
Wow, thank you, your writing is brave and true and captures what so many of us feel. I am in the trenches of motherhood w/ 2 toddlers, grieving the loss of my father, and have been struggling, but we are warriors. We can love our role as mothers and detest the drudgery, I don’t know why so many people find that so difficult to understand. I have a blog and I write honestly, but you take it to a whole new level. Thank you.
TonyaTuesday, 21 May, 2013 at 21:25
Holy crap, this took my breath away and I am adding to my list of favorite posts ever.
There is nothing on earth like mother love and the way it grabs you by the hair from day one and never lets go is fierce and beatiful You captured that here.
You are one fucking awesome mama!!
ShawnWednesday, 12 June, 2013 at 6:49
Wow. Your blogs are outstanding. If you would have told me before my wife and I had our daughter that I would end up addicted to reading blogs on renegademothering.com, I’d have said you were crazy. Lol. Great stories. Some of them have helped me better understand my wife’s point of view as a mother. Thanks!
JenFriday, 14 June, 2013 at 18:49
I love this blog! While I’ve appreciated your wit and candor from afar for awhile now, this post is is the most beautiful description of motherhood I’ve ever read. You rock! Thanks for saying what we all wish we were eloquent enough to say!