I’m going to wade through the political correctness, the tip toeing around feelings, and the quick-to-crucify judgers to reach the quiet group of women who need to hear someone else say this:
I don’t absolutely love motherhood.
Before we get into this, let me just say that I am not suffering from Postpartum Depression (anymore) or a hormonal imbalance that is making me say these “crazy” words. I just…don’t love motherhood. Unfortunately, I don’t mean this in an “everyone has their moments when they get frustrated” or “of course you won’t love every part, like the poopy diapers or tantrums” kind of way. No, what I mean is that about 75% of the time, I’m putting on a brave, smiling face and pretending to enjoy the hours of building blocks and coloring. I’m pretending to be okay with the stay-at-home status and the endless chores that I can’t see past (though I genuinely try). I’m pretending that I’m not terrified to raise teenagers and that I’ve got all my crap together.
75% of the time, I’m missing my old life and day dreaming about what I’d be doing right now, 6 years into my marriage, if it was still just my husband and I. Would we be in a bigger house or an apartment perfect for just the two of us? Would we have never gone into debt and actually have a second car by now? Would I have stayed skinny, erasing these stretch marks I’m self conscious about? Would my marriage feel stronger because we’d have more quality time to focus on just each other?
I know this sounds incredibly selfish. I am very much aware of the struggle so many beautiful and wonderful women face in their infertility. I cry when I think of my apparent selfishness that I can’t help but feel this way when I know another woman would switch wombs with me in a heartbeat, just so she can finally experience motherhood. Believe me, I know. So 75% of the time, I’m also living in fear and guilt, hating myself for these feelings.
Everyone talks about how amazing it is to be a mother and how “worth it” all the frustrations and difficulties are when raising a child. I’ve even written about these moments (like HERE and HERE), trying to give encouragement from behind enemy lines. Of course I have many times where I feel so lucky to have the children and situation I do. Of course I would never give my kids back or trade my life because I do recognize that motherhood is essential and celestial. Of course I love the amazing little moments that get me through, like when my toddler kisses my baby goodnight or how I felt when my brand new baby was placed on my chest for the first time. And I pray all the time that this is only temporary—that maybe I just don’t love the young kid/new mom stage and things will feel brighter down the road.But as hard as I try to push my negative, secret feelings out of my life, as hard as I try to stay positive and ignore all complaints, I still find myself not loving my role.
In the deepest part of my heart, 75% of the time, I don’t love motherhood.
I can’t be alone… right?
I know that if I’m secretly feeling like this and am scared of voicing these thoughts, then chances are, someone else is having the exact same struggles. It’s a very lonely position to be in. In today’s world of the internet trolls and “perfect” parents, how dare we admit to anything real and inadequate? So no one speaks up, for fear of being thrashed with hate and anger.
But with 7.3 billion people on this planet, 43 million of which are mothers (roughly), I seriously can’t be the only one here, in this lonely and contradicting position. I refuse to believe I’m the only mom who feels torn between the life I lead (with peanut butter in my hair and smelling like poop) and what I used to picture for myself (developed career, traveling the world, having spontaneous dates with the husband, and peeing alone).
So even though I know there must be many women who feel the same way as I do, they may not be brave enough to stand up (or type out) in agreement. If you don’t feel like you can admit this out loud yet, but you’re feeling relieved to read my words, I’ll use this writing position to say it for you:
I don’t love being a mother, but that doesn’t make me an awful person. I can still be a great mom, even if I have my doubts about my worthiness to hold this role.
To you mothers who are not currently loving your motherhood: you are not actually alone. You probably feel selfish, because motherhood is all about putting your children, the next generation, above yourself and is an incredibly important role. It’s okay; I feel selfish too. But I know you understand how important your role is. I know you love your kids, even if you don’t love motherhood. I’m not going to jump behind my computer to hash out insults, condemning you for your dislike of motherhood, especially since you already know many women would love to be in your shoes. You have enough self remorse without any hidden-behind-screens bullies assuming you don’t already know your own guilt. Instead, I’ll point out that because you recognize and feel guilty for your feelings, that shows me how great of a mother you actually are. Think about it: motherhood is hard for everyone, but when you don’t love (or even like) the role you fill every single day, and you still strive to be the best mom your kids could ever need, that shows your devotion. That shows your selfLESSness. Every day that you cover your annoyances and instead continue to cut off the crusts of the millionth sandwich (that your kid probably still won’t eat), you show an attribute of a great mom. Every day that you ignore the longing for a different life, and instead run the kids to their millionth early Saturday morning soccer practice with a smile on your face, you show your love and priorities. That is what your kids will remember about you—your love and devotion to them, despite everything else.
Because I don’t love motherhood 75% of the time, I don’t have any professional advice to end this article on a happy note with. This is not a “10 Ways to Start Loving your Mamahood” type of post that everyone would scroll past anyways. If you’ve got suggestions, beyond the obvious “focus on the kids and what you DO enjoy” advice, please share them with me in the comments. Because I want to like this status. I want to feel the joy of staying home day after day to catch the little teaching moments with the kids. I want to get better at ignoring the tantrums and getting up early while maintaining my patience. I want to never take my fertility for granted. The only advice I can leave you with right now is this:
Don’t let your worries and dislike for most-things motherhood get you down. One great thing about being a mommy is that things are always changing and evolving. And if the stories are true, this time of our lives will be over before we know it. Let’s all just try to survive and enjoy what we can a little bit longer. Because one day, the kids will be gone and we will get to find out what life outside our house feels like again.