Motherhood. Phew. It’s not easy, is it?
The to-do list of a mommy is endless. We keep the house together, we keep everyone fed and clean and happy, and some of us even have work outside of the house to get done too.
Yet we see them everywhere we go. Mommies wearing a brave face, along with her supermom cape. We see them at Playdates. At gymnastics. At swimming. At the bus stop.
Mommies who seem to have it all together. Mommies of children who certainly must always have three square (organic, home-made) meals a day, only the most natural of snacks. Her children were exclusively breastfed yet somehow were miraculously sleeping through the night at three months. At least this is what we tell ourselves must surely be happening over at her house.
But really? Are there really mommies out there who have it so together? All the time?
Maybe. But I would hazard a guess that they are few and far between.
The truth is, we are all human and we all struggle. We all have awesome days with our kids, and we all have some days that just feel so, so long.
That mommy you see at the park? You see that happy face she’s wearing? Maybe she’s having one of those ‘motherhood-is-so-amazing’ days. Or maybe she plastered that brave face on, determined to make it through a tough day. She put it on to leave the house, afraid that if she showed how she’s really feeling, then people would know.
They might see that sometimes she gets overwhelmed and she yells at her kids. She doesn’t want to… she’s just so, so tired. They might see that sometimes she is too tired to make dinner so she throws a pot of KD on the stove. And they might see that *gasp,* sometimes she puts cartoons on for the kids so she can have just five minutes of quiet.
Of course we all love our kids to the moon and back. We’d do anything for them. And of course there are lots of fun times. But the problem is not a lack of love. It’s about getting from one fun time to the next. Cause you know what they say? You don’t see the day-to-day in the photographs in that album on the shelf. The question is, how do we get through the day-to-day, from one fun time to the next?
Mommies are tired. New nursing mommies especially. The problem is not that the babies are waking up to nurse every 1-3 hours. Babies are hard-wired to do this. Their survival, in times gone by, depended on it. They needed to ensure mommy was close by in case a sabre tooth tiger should wander into the cave.
But here’s the thing.
We are not meant to do this alone.
We are “supposed” to have the support of our mothers and aunts and cousins and 12 of our sisters, who all live in the same home. Nowadays, the lucky mommies have a really great, supportive partner who is home a lot, parents who are retired and live close by, and a really great group of girlfriends.
The problem is, most mommies do not have all of these supports. Add the lack of support to the exhaustion and the (false!) notion that asking for help (thereby admitting you are not supermom) would equal defeat…. means motherhood can be really, really tough.
And you know what the other problem is? We are not talking about it. I have been open about my struggle with the darkness. But a lot of us are keeping it inside, afraid that if we admit that this is hard, then we are admitting failure.
Everyone once in a while, close girlfriends will let their guards down and admit something they’re not proud of.
“I let her cry last night. I just couldn’t go in there again.”
“Sometimes I feel like I am just an observer. I feel so vacant and distant.”
We are all just trying to raise happy, healthy, conscientious kids. It might look different from house to house; we are all doing things our own way. But we have one important thing in common: everything we do we are doing out of love.
Mommies everywhere, unite! Be gentle with yourselves. Be gentle with each other. And for goodness sakes, ask for and accept help! It takes a village!
So lets share our stories – the good and the bad. Share them with the mom at the park. Share them with girlfriends over a glass of wine. Share them in the comment section below.
Having a bad, limited patience day doesn’t make you a bad mom. It makes you real. We’re all in this together, and knowing we’re not alone will make us all feel better about how we are managing the days between the celebratory pictures in the family album.