I’ve lost count how many times I’ve heard the words “How do you do it?”, “How is this even possible?”, “You are Superwoman!”
If only I felt like Superwoman. The truth is, I’m a mom, barely making it.
I’m originally from Brazil, I’ve been living in this country for 12 years now, most of my family including my parents and older brother still live in Brazil. I have a younger brother living in Canada with his wife and daughter; a cousin living in Denver with her husband and children; a cousin living in Spain with his wife and children; and an aunt living in Italy with her husband and children.
I have no idea what it feels like to have a support system. I’ve never had a wedding shower, a baby shower, birthdays and holidays is just us, it has been just us for a long time now, my husband’s mother passed when I was pregnant with our second, a baby she was anxiously waiting, you see, she had 3 boys and always wanted to have a girl, she would always say I was the daughter she never had, and now I was going to give her a granddaughter, she was over the moon. But such is life, she passed unexpectedly after several strokes that came out of nowhere. So now is just my husband, me and our children. We currently have 4 kids, ages 9, 7, 5 and 2-and-half years old.
And most days, I have no idea how we have made through another day.
My days should start at 6 am, but sometimes my older children wake me anything from 3 am to 5 am. My 2-and-a-half-year-old still nurses at night and some nights he will nurse two times, some nights every couple hours. So frankly, to answer the question I hear the most is, I have no idea how I do this. It’s basically been almost 10 years I don’t sleep a full night and many years I don’t sleep 4 hours in a row, my nights consist of cat-naps throughout the night.
Not having a village means I can’t count on anyone to watch the kids while I take a nap, or help me when I’m sick and can barely walk. My husband is a soldier and he is gone a lot, I’m alone with the children, a lot.
Back to how a typical day around here is, on the good days, I wake up at 6 in the morning, sneak from my bed where hopefully my baby stays asleep while I get the others ready for school. I lay their clothes out the night before and most days they will get dressed by themselves, we’ve also had days I had to get the 5-year-old up and dressed in 7 minutes flat, those are not my favorite days.
The 5-year-old used to get picked up by a school bus, she went to a different school than the 2 older ones, I’d then carefully place the baby in the stroller praying he won’t wake up and walk a mile to drop the older ones at school. Thankfully now they go to the same school, and we got a second car, making my mornings a lot easier, especially on raining or cold days.
We come back home, I make breakfast, my husband comes home from his daily exercises and has breakfast with us most of the days. Mornings are for trying to keep up with the housework and take care of the baby. At 11:30 I make lunch, my husband has lunch with us most of the days.
At 3:15 I get my littlest ready so we can go pick up the older ones. On nice days we walk, on not-so-nice days or when we’re running late, we go by car. My children used to ride the school bus, our first year here. They would cry and complain the whole mile there and back. Thankfully, they don’t do it anymore.
We then come home, and it’s snack frenzy time. I always try to keep their favorite fruits on hand so it’s easier for them to make good snack choices but we’re human and some days they will sit with a bowl of chips and salsa, and that’s ok. They have their dinner and baths and storytime and by 7:00 they are in bed.
On the good nights, they will go to bed, on the not so good ones, I will be up and down the stairs many many times reminding them they have school in the morning and have to rest.
Once they go to bed I face the dilemma many moms do: do I go to bed? Do I clean the house? Do I do some laundry? Do I try to watch something? Do I have a snack?
Most nights, the baby is awake and by the time he goes to sleep, I’m too exhausted to do anything.
I love my children, I’ve always wanted to be a mom, but most nights I go to bed thinking how am I going to do all this again tomorrow.
Being a mom is hard. And being a mom without your village is nearly impossible. But somehow, we still do it. We wake up and we get things done.
Aline Lins Anderson is a Brazilian momma happily making wherever the Army sends her husband her home. She is a mother of 4, lover of nature, cloth diapering, and advocating for her children. Always striving to make this world a better place.