5 Things about Motherhood No One Likes to Admit
Without a doubt, motherhood is a beautiful thing. I’ve never felt more secure in myself until I had the pleasure of raising my children.
We all know that motherhood has its ups and downs. On one hand, we have the precious milestones – hearing our baby uttering their first word ("Mama", always), helping them take their first steps, watching with pride as they take their first bite of pizza. The first time your kiddo says “I love you” without being prompted will melt your heart like butter on a cast iron skillet.
Of course, there’s also the icky stuff we all love to complain about – never getting a full 8 hours of sleep, having a pair of cracked, bleeding nipples… And don’t get me started on those horrifying birth stories!
The awesome part is that we get to share our worries and fears with fellow moms, our own mothers, and even strangers on mommy forums (who may or may not even moms...) It’s nice to be able to bond with other ladies over similar stories and experiences.
That being said, some subjects are a little too touchy to confide in others. Sure, talking about postpartum bladder control with strangers on the subway is no big deal – but feeling unfulfilled? Cue the chirping crickets!
Here are 5 things about motherhood that no one likes to talk about. You’ll find comfort in knowing you’re not the only one with these looming thoughts:
You'll Be Doing the Bulk of Parenting
It doesn’t matter if you’re a stay-at-home mom or work full-time. Your job as a mother starts hours before your kids wake up, and goes on way after you put them down for the night. And I’m not just talking about the grueling cycle of nursing, diaper duty, and rocking baby to sleep. That’s a very short (and intense!) period of time that your little one will quickly outgrow.
I’m talking about the attachment your child will form with you; the bond of a mother and child is unlike anything else. Years after your kids outgrow diapers, they’ll look to you for everything – when they want the crackers from the top shelf, when they want the other crackers from the top shelf, when they scrape their knee, ace their exams, get rejected by the dream girl, get accepted into their dream school, and everything in between. And they’re not the only ones who are attached – as a mom, you’ll never be able to resist them. (Which is what makes things so darn hard sometimes!)
No shade to dads whatsoever. They bring a whole other dynamic that’s just as important and special. But while dads obviously do their part, it’s the moms who are working day in and day out to execute.
*Of course, it’s not good to generalize because every family is different. My dad was the one who stayed home with us, and I was certainly a lot closer to him that I was with my working mom, whom I barely saw. But when it came to matters of the heart and spilling my guts, I always felt right at home with mom.
You'll Have to Face Some (Very) Unrealistic Expectations
You already have to face a lot of unrealistic expectations and double standards as a woman – but as a mom, watch things amp up times 100!
As a mom, you’re expected to devote your whole life to your kids – but at the same time, you’re supposed to feel completely fulfilled about it. You can work and help bring home the bacon, but you can’t enjoy it too much. It’s ideal if you stay at home – but you better pull your own weight if you’re lucky to be in that situation. You’re expected to drop everything superficial and focus on more meaningful things – but you should get back to your postpartum body if you want to chase after your kids. You’re supposed to raise your kids to be good, honest, and outspoken – but you can never, ever complain about your own struggles.
It’s like the only thing left to do is blink… (As long as you don’t do it too hard, or too often.)
Everyone Thinks You're Doing It All Wrong
You’ll doubt yourself. A lot. But while it’s one thing to have internal conflicts, a surprising amount of nitpicking will come from outside sources.
From the moment I became pregnant with my first child, it was as if I had the sign “I’M REALLY STUPID AND INCAPABLE, PLEASE BLESS ME WITH YOUR WISDOM” spray painted across my face. You’ll get unsolicited advice from everyone – strangers, friends, family, your in-laws, your parents, your partner…
They range from advice hiding under the guise of “caring” (“Oh, you haven’t bathed your 4-day-old baby since yesterday?”) to blatantly rude (“You are too young to have children.” – sage words from an old man I don’t know, while I was playing with my 3-year-old.)
When I’m on my daily grind, I think I’m doing a really kick-ass job of raising my kids. It’s not until some outsider tries to burst my bubble and point out everything I’m doing wrong that I start to doubt myself.
Actual solicited advice from a friend: “Walk away.”
You'll Constantly Feel Guilty
If you think about it, your intentions are good – you’re striving for perfection because you want the best for your kids. But you could be having one of those really perfect days where everything just goes as planned, and you’ll still feel like you could be doing things better.
Guilt isn’t a light feeling, by the way. Guilt keeps you up at night. Guilt makes your eyes glaze over when you’re supposed to be enjoying your once-a-month coffee date with the girls. Guilt makes you antsy on your once-a-year date with the husband, relieving the sitter several hours early.
And what do you feel guilty about? Formula-feeding (or nursing and hating it)? Not playing with your kids enough (or playing with them too much— they have attachment issues)? Disciplining your kids too much (or not disciplining them at all)? Your kids are behind on their letters, numbers, and shapes (or focusing too much on the academic stuff, you haven’t encouraged creativity)… more of those unrealistic expectations!
It Gets Lonely
The most ironic part about motherhood is that you’re never alone – everyone needs you for everything, you’re constantly busy, and moments of silence are rare to come by – but you can become very lonely.
The first few months of your baby’s are the toughest. You’ll be in your own little world, completely devoted to your little one. You’ll struggle to find the time to maintain old friendships, and find it difficult to step out of the house to seek new ones. You’d rather be on top of your daily routine than throw your whole schedule off for an iced coffee.
The good news is that it gets a lot better! Most play and learn centers (such as Gymboree and My Gym) offer parent-and-me classes for babies as young as 6 months. While they’re totally great for baby to start discovering and exploring, let’s be honest – these are made for moms who want to socialize, swap numbers, and create friendships for life. By the time your kiddo’s a year old, take advantage of your city’s classes, usually held at local parks and rec centers.
As your child gets older, it’ll be easier to take them out and about. Rather than accommodating their needs all the time (because seriously, who would willingly go to Chuck E. Cheese?), you can start bonding over cool films, exploring exotic cuisine (kids LOVE teppanyaki restaurants), going on exciting road trips, and all that fun stuff!
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