“You need to do better.”

The context doesn’t matter. Just the words.

I thought it didn’t bother me, but apparently it really did because here I am writing about it a couple of weeks later after it has churned and churned in my head, eating away at my joy. Better.

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Better? Who’s definition? Your’s? Society’s? Mine? My husband’s? God’s? What exactly is “better”—and is it even possible?

I was called to be a wife and mommy. That is a fact that I know, feel, live and breathe.

From where I sit, or where I was standing at the moment the words were spoken, somehow managing to stay upright and not falling over on the floor at the word “better” being used to describe what I needed to do with my life and how well I’m functioning.

Honestly? I’m doing pretty good. For starters, I am somehow able to keep a half-smile on my face and not cry hysterically or scream hysterically. I’m hormonal and the call to cry or scream is a hard one to make at times.

I really think I deserve a gold star for holding it together. I would like a shiny foil one.

How would you even describe “better?”

Because, you see, I don’t have one kid, or even two or three. I remember those days fondly. So much easier. Fewer kids back then, fewer work hours for my husband. Ah, those were the days. But now, THESE are the days.

These are the days of me throwing back the covers and placing my feet on the floor to start the day, bright and early, with the summoning of little people, skipping wildly around, requesting things like chocolate milk and breakfast.

Sadly, it’s not the first time that my covers have been thrown back and my feet placed, stumbling, onto the floor. No, I have done that several times during the night, dragging my sleep-deprived body across a house to a child who has had a bad dream, wet the bed, awaken and just can’t get back to sleep, needs water or just longs for mommy snuggles.

I awake in the mornings along with the rooster’s second round of crowing (I do not even understand the pre-dawn performance, bathroom light? Porch light? Coffee pot light? I don’t know, he’s crazy) from whatever bed I managed to complete my “sleep,” and stumble around bouncing munchkins, all lining the yellow brick road to the coffee pot.

I fill my cup with half and half. You know, half coffee, half water because I’m limiting my caffeine intake during my first trimester, but I need SOMETHING to jumpstart the day and get my engine half-firing. In the microwave it goes because many a minute has passed since the timer instructed the pot to brew.

You see, my husband wakes with the rooster’s FIRST round of crows. Hey, maybe the first round is just for him. (Brotherhood? Solidarity? Hmmm…)

Into the living room, carrying a kid, dancing around others, trying not to spill one drop of the precious life-enducing juice. Plop! Into the recliner I go and there I sit, piled high with three of the four kids and 9 million stuffed animals until I can convince myself that I am, indeed, awake.

Then it begins. Breakfast!

Breakfast leads to lunch, lunch leads to snacks, then dinner. Each of those leave behind a wake of mess and dishes. Mouths are fed, teeth are brushed—at least once a day, though I strive for two.

Clothes are washed. We have a never-ending supply of clothes. I don’t care if the clothes are clean it not, I prefer yoga pants and sweats AND will wear one pair multiple days, but my husband tends to need “real clothes” for work and other people appreciate them being clean.

The mail gets checked, bills get paid, animals fed and plants get watered… occasionally.

Kids get read to, we throw in a little math and we play—well, they play. I tend to crash in the recliner and watch.

All this and more, when all I want to do is fall on my bed with my face buried in a pillow and sleep off the next few weeks of my first trimester. An occasional snack and drink of water, hand-delivered on a platter would be great, but not happening. No, my husband is working, long hours so we can keep the whole process running.

Better?

I chose to follow my heart, that voice on the inside, that tells me in this season of my life, I am doing great. I am providing for my family, keeping my home running and trying my absolute best to be a supportive wife and compassionate mother when most days I don’t have the energy to brush my own hair and teeth because my body is growing a tiny human who is using every piece of energy that it can get it’s webbed fingers and toes on to grow a brain and other functioning organ systems.

I don’t know how I could possibly do “better” because it looks to me that I’m doing better than “better.”

And I’m rockin‘ it.

(This piece originally appeared on Peanut Butter in My Hairbrush.)
Featured Photo Courtesy: Jaelynn Castillo via Unsplash