I took this photo yesterday, and here's what flashed through my mind as I did.
Everyone keeps telling me that when they get older, managing their lives will get easier and the daily grind of mothering them at these ages won't feel so overwhelming or consuming. Independence and self-sufficiency as they age will make it easier they say. You'll have more breathing room. You'll be able to have more time and more of your mind to yourself again.
I don't doubt that there is truth to this-people are living it, and experiencing it for themselves, so I don't deny them that. It's true for them and I understand the desire to encourage other parents in this way, by telling them it gets better, by showing solidarity in saying "I've been there, it won't always feel like it's your undoing."
But...for me, there are moments/days/weeks/months/years when I don't know if I believe that this will be the case for me. I'm watching my own mother parent me and my siblings at 33, 25, and 20, and it doesn't look...easy. I don't know if I'll be able to say when they are 15, 12, and 9 or 25, 22, and 19 that mothering my boys, who are Black, Brown, and not neurotypical, will get...easier. Less overwhelming. Less worrisome. Or that working to ensure the tools they need to navigate living will feel any less urgent than it does every time my eyes open to greet a new day. Or that I'll be able to escape how crushing the weight of trying to empower them to navigate a world that marks their intersecting identities as Other is.
I mean...what exactly is supposed to get easier about being their mother while living and navigating the intersections of my own identity? (Identities?) I'm a Black woman living with bipolar disorder and anxiety working hard to overcome the impact of trauma in my own life...and live out the lessons of consequence from my own choices, good and bad...in a society where I am an Other too. How does any of that become "easy"?
I think I've been holding onto a false, idealized promise here, hoping it gets me across the Jordan to the other side.
I don't think easier is the right word. Maybe it's not about getting easier at all. I'm wondering out loud here that it doesn't actually become easier for most of us...perhaps we really just learn to adapt, adjust, and approach this parenting gig in ways that help us meet the challenges and shifts in their needs and our capacities as they grow. I'm thinking the other side is really just us learning how to function with the weight and chaos of living and parenting in a f*cked up world.
It's never going to get easy or easier, this process, this living out our lives while parenting others. Maybe instead...we change the language we use because language matters. So tell me instead that somehow, we'll get through this thing called life. Tell me instead I'll learn what works and what doesn't and that hopefully, I'll just manage to keep us alive and thriving in spite of. Just help me find the joy in the cracks and crevices. Help me hope that love is enough to carry them through what they'll face as autistic and neurodivergent Black and Brown boys who will eventually be men. Help me hope that bipolar disorder doesn't rob me of the chance to give them the best of me that I can as long as I can. Help me work to make this world one that doesn't steal their humanity from them.
Don't tell me that it gets easy. Tell me instead how to manage the fact that it won't. Ever.