Sometimes I growl.
I don’t really mean to but for many years, I’ve growled in moments of feeling overwhelmed or frustrated or flustered; and whether it’s an attractive or effective tactic of life, it’s just kind of a thing I do.
It’s not like a lion in the jungle snarl or anything super weird. It’s just sort of a low grumble under my breath on most occasions. There are times, however, that it’s more of a roar. A louder, deeper, more cavernous tone that comes from my core.
The other day I did that roar.
It was about 10 o’clock at night. I’d been up since 4:30, worked a full day, did all the things, and was simply running out of steam. I had gone through the bedtime routine and gotten my three boys in bed, and just as I thought I could lay down, my sons all started the typical bedtime stall tactics we all know and love so well.
I finally got everyone to stay put in bed after threats of stripping their room of every toy they own (and don’t think I wouldn’t do it) and never allowing them to have another sip of water for the rest of their days, only to be woken up a couple hours later by my son crying and barking like a seal.
So at 2 am after what felt like minutes of sleep, prior to figuring out my son was truly sick (croup…Hallelujah)… I ROARED.
After determining he was in fact sick; following the calming and comforting, after giving him medicine and laying him back down, prior to laying myself back down…
I ROARED again.
It struck me in that moment that I had roared more than usual that day.
When I spilled my coffee on myself earlier that morning. When we were pulling out of the driveway running late for work and my son said he had to poop. When I couldn’t find any parking spots in the normal lot at work so I had to walk half a mile in. When I had to sit in traffic on my way daycare after work. When my sons acted like lunatics as we went through the evening routine.
ROAR. ROAR. ROAR.
Multiple times, for multiple reasons, I realized I was growling a lot.
I thought about it-this growly roar-and recognized it comes from more than a reaction of frustration and annoyance. It’s more significant, and much more complicated than that.
“Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.” Barbara Kingsolver
I think we can all agree that parenthood pushes us to corners of ourselves we never even knew existed. It tests our limits (the good and the bad) all day every day, and sometimes to cope with that, we growl. Or roar. At least that’s what I do.
Aside from the fact that our kids are sometimes reminiscent of feral animals in the wilderness, there is something rather primal about motherhood. An almost animalistic, instinctual prowess within us to both protect and teach our children. Depending on the details of our day, week, year, or even life, I think that instinct can feel stronger at times. More powerful. More desperate. More urgent. More overwhelming.
There’s a lot on our shoulders as mothers. The responsibility of raising these little people we love more than life is immense. I think sometimes we forget how much it really is we do all day every day. We can discount our own significance and power, our own ability and strength as we become stressed and tired by the weight of it all. And then when we have moments where our strength, love, and stress collide and we “roar,” however it looks in that particular moment, we feel like failures. We feel like our weakness is getting the best of us.
I’m learning that’s not what that roar is.
It’s not weakness or failure. It’s our lioness instincts kicking in.
It’s the roar of motherhood.
The depth of love we carry in our bodies for our children is often too much to be contained within our own bodies.
The weight of responsibility we carry for raising them to be healthy, loving, productive citizens of society sits on our chest and sometimes we can’t breathe.
There’s a powerlessness that comes when our baby is sick and there’s nothing we can do but hold them in our arms and kiss their tears away.
There’s a sense of sadness as we hand our children over to someone else to care for them while we go to work each day.
There’s frustration in constantly feeling like there isn’t enough of us to go around and somehow, everyone and everything is getting our leftovers.
There’s an unrelenting need to keep all the balls in the air at all times and a disheartening reality that we are human and it’s impossible to maintain that level of responsibility 24/7.
There’s what sometimes feels like a lifetime of sleep deprivation.
There’s a desire to protect our babies and keep them safe from a cruel, scary world and the knowledge that we won’t be able to forever.
There’s a need-a requirement even- for just a few minutes of silence and peace, yet no space to find it, even within our own minds.
There’s overwhelming pride we feel when our children hit a new milestone or learn a new skill. When we look at them and realize our babies aren’t such babies anymore and they’re doing things on their own, needing us less and less.
Everything we are and everything we aren’t, motherhood highlights it all.
ROAR. ROAR. ROAR.
So if you growl under your breath sometimes like I do, even if your roar expresses itself differently than mine, maybe cut yourself a break and realize that moan isn’t just you coming to the end of yourself because you can’t handle any more or you’re failing as a mother. It’s just the sound of your inner lioness. The growl of love pulled from the corners of your spirit from all you do and all you are.
It’s the roar of motherhood.
“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” – Maya Angelou
This post originally appeared at Three Boys and a Mom.