It’s hard to be a mom, sometimes to the point where I don’t want to be.
I get angry and frustrated at my partner because he is the bread winner and I’m just at home all day doing nothing, right? Sometimes I do nothing, because sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps me sane. I sit on the on couch and fold laundry and watch stupid Netflix shows because everything becomes too much. Making art is my passion, but more often than not I don’t have the energy to create because I’m just too worn out. Trying to keep track of my little one, trying to keep track of all the baby socks that have gone missing, trying to keep all my dogs in check; It seems like simple tasks are a feat.
And sometimes he just doesn’t get that. He doesn’t get that folding baby pants is a chore. He doesn’t get that trying to come up with healthy meals is beyond stressful and often times just results in a quick PB&J and tons of guilt afterwards. He doesn’t get that I hate my body now because I’m too exhausted to work out and get back into shape, and that when it’s time to be intimate I push him away because I’m embarrassed of the stretch marks and the extra skin that has mysteriously grown on my once fit body. I’m tired of feeling this way. I’m tired of not having a hot meal because my kid didn’t like what I made so I have to make something else while my partner sits and enjoys the meal his mother cooked for him.
By the end of dinner I’ll be sitting alone with a screaming child, wanting to be set free from his high chair prison, eating cold stroganoff while everyone else is winding down for the evening. I’m tired of putting my own needs aside while the rest of the family has their own needs taken care of and career paths set out for them. What about me? Did I have a child too early? Did I miss my chance to travel and to eat foreign food and to make my career possible? Did I lose who I was in that delivery room? I love my son, and I love my family. I should make that very clear. But the thoughts at night when everyone is asleep and the house is finally quiet and my partner is sound asleep next to me haunt me. What if? What if we had waited? Would I have had the drive I have now to go back to school and do what I have always longed to do? Its days like this that makes being stuck in my head too hard to cope with. It makes it hard to want to put my son down to sleep and just stare at him with awestruck intention because I’m too caught up with my own whirlwind of thoughts. Am I selfish for feeling this way? Am I selfish for wishing I had more time to complete me? I don’t know. I made my bed, so lie in it right? I’m not unhappy, but I’m restless. In the time of killer viruses and not knowings I feel more restless than anyone else. I feel more alone than I ever have. I know that I’m blessed; I know that people would kill for the life that I have, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting more. That doesn’t put me to sleep at night. I feel so selfish wanting more, yet driven to work hard and achieve what I want, but motherhood, as for a personal goal, seems like a path to nowhere.
I know how terrible that sounds, I regret it the moment I say it. I’m raising a child, a beautiful baby boy, something that a lot of couples only dream of, but it always comes back to what about ME? When will I get to feel some sort of success? I am constantly struggling as a mother, and just when I think I have my kid down, he goes through another change, and I go through another whirlwind of emotions and feel like a failure all over again. Is this how it will be forever? Will I ever get to achieve my wildest dreams or am I bound to creating a life for my kid and struggling through routine after routine forever?
These are the struggles of motherhood.
As I pause and read through what I have written, and the plethora of questions I have, I can honestly say that I know I’m not the only mother feeling this way.
I know that lots of mothers, who love their children and love their partners, struggle daily with unanswered questions that haunt them. I know I’m not alone. But having girls nights and play dates and mom gatherings at the park seem far off and never enough. You can always plan things in advance and over pack your diaper bag for a simple day trip but no matter how long or short the visit is, you’re still always a mom, waiting for you kid to fall and scrape his knee or eat something he shouldn’t or pick up a pile of dog shit while you’re not looking.
You can sign up for that yoga class or that meditation retreat but have to reschedule because your partner can’t watch the baby or your kid got sick or you’re just too god damn tired to go. Your house feels like a prison but a safe haven all at once, and leaving is a methodical, stressful task filled with, “Where is the binky?” “Where did I put that sippy cup?” “Is that really all the diapers I have?” “Do Cheetos count as a snack?”
I’m not a writer, and I won’t pretend to be. These are just the whirlwind of thoughts and questions provoked by a long hard day and a glass of wine.
I wrote this back in April, and while some of my feelings have changed, they are still basically the same.
I want to cover some of these topics, these mom guilt moments, these human struggle moments that seem to “define” motherhood. I think as mothers we find ourselves at a crossroads as our little ones come to a certain age. They start becoming independent, they aren’t as dependent on you, and while at times it breaks your heart, it also gives you little pieces of freedom back. But they are still dependent on you, whether their little minds can fathom it or not, and especially when they are younger than school age it becomes difficult for mothers to find their niche in the world. You almost have to find out who you are all over again, because you aren’t who you once were.
The moment you stepped foot into that delivery room you left a piece of you there, and blossomed into a whole other creature that at times makes you wrestle with yourself, not knowing how much is enough to give up. Will I ever go back to work again? Will I ever be able to start a career for myself? Will my body ever be the same? Will the guilt moments ever end? Questions that I wrestle with daily and I know I’m not the only one. So let’s dive in mama, this one is for you.
So you want to go back to work? You want to feel that regularity that you once felt, that financial independence, the ability to spoil yourself at the drop of a hat.
First things first, however, I have to be upfront and honest – I can’t give specific advice on this subject because everyone’s situation is different. What I can do is provide my perspective and how I have coped through struggles like these and create a middle ground that hopefully will resonate with you. I was blessed enough when my son was still breast feeding to start working for my parents all the way up until he started walking, and then it turned to disaster. My kid is a bull in a china cabinet, and while his wonder for delicate glass things is adorable, it’s also terrifying. It became very clear to me that he is not capable of being a work buddy, not at this stage anyway, and he shouldn’t have to be! It was then that I experienced that crossroads moment.
I had to choose between financial freedom and my son’s wellbeing. (And also the wellbeing of my parents store.) An easy choice, of course, in the moment, but long term I was struggling. This was the point where all of those network marketing, pyramid scheme, “make thousands from the comfort of your couch” became all too appealing. Our society is not set up for the betterment of mothers, or parents for that matter. Daycare prices are outrageous, nannies are just as expensive, and wanting to watch your little one go through all of their cute stages is priceless. It can be a huge hit to your ego, and if you’re like me and didn’t take steps to further your career early, you get that feeling of being “behind.” As far as a solution for this internal dilemma, I’ve come to terms with the fact that there really isn’t one. We make it by on one income, and are lucky enough to have gone in on a house with my in-laws to make payments smaller and more manageable.
This isn’t the case for everyone though, and when it becomes necessity to have two incomes, it’s that much more frustrating. Parents have to choose who has the better income and pick who has to stay at home with the kids. For us, it was easier for me to stay at home. I don’t have a career, I haven’t worked towards a specific goal or job, but my fiancé has. Does that make things any easier? No, absolutely not. There was something that Katy Perry said that I think a lot of moms can identify with; “When a mom finally goes back to work…its’s not like they’ve been coming from months of “time off.” She’s coming from a full time job of being a mom.” Motherhood is a full time job. The meal planning, the cooking, the cleaning, keeping he child alive and most of all happy; it’s not a job for the faint of heart. So what have I done to keep myself sane, and most importantly happy?
These are just a few tips that have worked for me over the past year that have really made a difference in the way that I look at motherhood and look at myself. I’m not perfect, and I’m not going to pretend to be. But our kids, man they idolize us. We are the one they run to when they are happy, sad, hurt, or just need a cuddle. I get to be that constant, the person who is always there no matter what. It’s a hard job, it will never get easier, and the challenges will continue to be different and scary, but it will always be rewarding.
I don’t remember the hard days anymore. I know they are there, I know that I struggled, but I made it through and you can too. I know there are lots of questions that I didn’t quite cover, and as I go through this new journey of writing this blog for you, I’m sure we will cover them. To put a blanket statement over the questions that I’ve asked and that I’m sure plenty of you have asked too: The questions will never end. You will always have anxieties about motherhood and whether you’re doing a good job or if you’re being too selfish to put your needs first sometimes.
I’m here to tell you that you are killing it, mama, you are not too selfish, your kid deserves to see you spoil yourself and learn acts of self-care and self-love. You are strong, and your family and your child see that.
And most importantly, you are not alone.