When you were in school did you have a favorite subject? How about a subject you disliked? Were you just not really a “math person” or found yourself wishing you could avoid gym class? My guess is, you probably had a subject or two that you would have skipped, given the choice. And you will likely find many other people who share your view: “I know, I totally hated History too.” Or “French was the worst, right?!?”
Now here is what I have noticed about being a mom. Suddenly, upon giving birth to your baby, you are no longer allowed to have anything except for “favorite” subjects. As a HUMAN BEING, you can have favorites and least favorites. You are allowed to have likes and dislikes. You are celebrated for knowing your strengths and weaknesses. But not as a mother.
As a mother, any admission that you don’t enjoy some part is equal to a deep character flaw. Examples of some conversations I have seen on Facebook over the years:
“I am so tired of hearing about how morning sickness is so terrible. There are people who would kill to have morning sickness! You should be grateful!”
“Just saw someone whining about not having any alone time since having kids. Um, hello, you probably shouldn’t have had children then!”
That’s right. If you have the gall to complain about anything related to motherhood, then you definitely don’t deserve to be a mother.
DAMN, you guys. Can we PLEASE CUT EACHOTHER A LITTLE FREAKING SLACK??
I read this fabulous article by Samantha Rodman, (of Dr. Psych Mom) titled “I’m Just Not That Into Toddlers, Including My Own.” It changed my entire perspective. It made total sense to me. She validated that some stages aren’t as good of a match with our personalities as others. Now, she got a lot of hate mail from this piece. But I read it and practically yelled “THANK GOD!” Because as you all know from reading my blog, the early months were not my favorite. But I felt like a terrible person for admitting it. I longed for the days of a talking child, for the personality of a 3 or 4 year old. And now I have a talking child, and guess what – I do love it. I really do. And I feel that I will love ages eight and ten and fourteen and twenty and so on and so on. Brand new baby was just not for me.
I recently went on a trip with my family and toddler, and while parts of it were amazing, other parts were incredibly stressful. Finally at the end of one night I was talking to my husband and said, “You know, I am just not made for traveling with a toddler.” After I said it out loud, I felt better. I didn’t feel like I had to keep trying to be this amazing traveling mama with this easy-going traveling baby. That’s not me. I’m not a great traveler WITHOUT a baby, so I don’t know why I expected to be even better with one. And I enjoyed the rest of the trip much more after I let go of that expectation.
I know some people believe we should only focus on the good in life. That a positive attitude is all you need, and that you are doing yourself a disservice for not being thankful and soaking up every moment. I *totally* get this view and respect it. But.
There is great power in vocalizing your struggles in order to be free of them. Because inevitably someone will step forward and say “me too”. Someone will have been waiting for you just to open your mouth and be HONEST and REAL that motherhood, or life in general, is not all sunshine and ice cream.
There will be people who don’t get it. People who think you have it all wrong, people who are hurting with their own issues, people who haven’t been given the luxury of being able to say “this is HARD.” That’s ok. But it doesn’t mean you have to feel guilty.
Your worth as a mother, as a woman, as a human being, is not determined by how much you love changing diapers or retrieving food from the floor, or calming a child who is having a tantrum. For some, tasks like these come easily. These mothers can see the beauty in these little moments. I’m not one of them. And for me, it has felt amazing to make peace with myself that ITS OK NOT TO LOVE EVERYTHING, instead of banging my head against the wall wailing “WHY CAN’T I LOVE LUNCH TIME???”
Also, as parents, isn’t it inevitable that we are going to screw SOMETHING up at some point? Because WE as parents are actually *gasp* human? So instead of trying desperately to be the mom who doesn’t make a mistake, who loves every single second, maybe we could try to be ourselves instead. Because I don’t know about you, but trying to pretend I love something that I don’t is freaking exhausting.
So for me, my daughter might get a little more TV time, and a little less organic, beautifully prepared meals than the daughter of the “perfect” mother. She might have to learn to use her imagination a little bit more because my capacity for “playing” isn’t sustainable for hours on end. She might not get a Pinterest perfect birthday party. She might not get a sibling close in age. She might not get a mom who is easy-going, enthusiastic, and super social.
But she will have a mom who reads to her every single day and loves it. She will have a loving daddy and grandparents who she gets to see all the time. She gets a home and food and stability and structure. She gets a mom who gets to stay home with her, but also gets to make money and do some things she is passionate about. She gets parents who are crazy about eachother and she gets more hugs and kisses and cuddles than she knows what to do with.
Looking at this list of all she gets to have, I know she is going to be ok. I know, deep down in my soul, that it is ok to admit that I don’t enjoy some parts, and that some things about being a mom do not come naturally or happily to me. But God/the Universe picked me to be her mommy, and who am I to argue with God/the Universe? They must have seen something in me that was a perfect match for her. And I show up, every single day, trying my best, and failing, but still trying. So instead of spending time wishing I was a different kind of mom than I am, I am going to spend my energy being the best kind of mom that I already am.
And that’s one that non-Pinteresty, non-organic cooking, non-cloth-diapering, non-tv-shunning, loves-her-baby-like-crazy, perfectly imperfect mama 🙂