The Otherhood

January 23, 2018

It’s hard to tackle writing about the aspects of motherhood that I have struggled with or simply that I don’t like. I can’t always write about queefing, guys.

But seriously, It’s a taboo topic that, as moms, we aren’t allowed to talk about.

I am lucky to even be a mom, but then to complain about it is just not allowable in the mothering world.

I talk about the lighter parts (mainly) of motherhood, more so than the difficult, dark parts.The dark parts have been there for me occasionally. There have been days when I have questioned myself as a mother and if I should have gone down this road. They don’t last long, but when they do hit, I find it difficult to see past them. It is much easier to make something funny than it is to tell someone that you are truly struggling.

I am currently not struggling with being a mom, but I have gone through moments of it through the course of my kids’ lives thus far. I think it’s only natural to have hard times and I know the good times don’t last forever, but they always return.

As mothers, we are under great pressure to do it all, be really great at “it all”, and most importantly, enjoy “it all” when it comes to raising children. “How does she do it all?!” Trust me, she doesn’t.

It is supposed to be this clean, innate, natural role that we play as women and if you admit to not liking or at the bare minimum, at least appreciating all aspects of motherhood, you immediately get labeled as a bad mom. Someone just not fit for the job. Is she even a woman?

You can’t tell people that you don’t always enjoy spending time with your children or that breastfeeding around the clock is going to send you straight to the nut house. It’s not acceptable to say you can’t bear to change one more dirty diaper or read The Very Hungry Caterpillar for the 7,000th time. You can’t tell people that playing blocks makes you want to hit your head against a wall repeatedly or you can feel yourself losing brain cells as you watch the same episodes of Little Bear over and over. You just get looks of worry and concern.

As women, we find affirmation in the excruciating. Why do we require things to be extremely difficult in order for us to feel like we’ve done something worthwhile? Examples: natural birth, breastfeeding, not using TV when we need it, homemade meals, simply asking for help, using your village.

I found this excerpt quite intriguing:

Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a clinical professor of obstetrics at Yale School of Medicine, said she sees women making themselves “crazy” over the wish to do things as naturally as possible, including giving birth intervention-free and breastfeeding. “In the 1900s, we didn’t have a lot of interventions,” she tells me. “Guess what? People died. The average female life expectancy was 48. That was as ‘natural’ as it got.” 

We push ourselves to be perfect and as women, I think we still value it. People like to read a pretty blog or see a beautiful picture. We don’t like to look at a mother crying in the back bathroom while her kids are screaming.

Before becoming a mother, I envisioned life with a baby as hard, but manageable. Something I would quickly get really good at and like for the most part. Much of that panned out for me, but some things didn’t.

Breastfeeding was incredibly hard for the first 2 months with Joe. Like incredibly. Breastfeeding Noah was insanely difficult for the first FIVE months.

I also have never learned to decode a baby and it drove me nuts to not be able to communicate with my son for the first 2 years of his life.

I still struggle with mom guilt. I am a walking contradiction to everyone around me, including myself. I want to always be a good mom and spend time with my baby, but then I bitch about not getting “me” time. When I get “me” time, I avoid it like the plague. I will find something to distract me from actually leaving my children so that I end up staying with them anyway. I can’t even figure it out myself. I get pulled one way and a second later my mind pulls me in the opposite direction.

As a mom, you can want 54 things all at one time, but sometimes don’t know which should take priority and the decision that involves taking care of your child always trumps.

I feel guilty a lot of the time. I feel guilty when I’m with them and not doing enough “mom” stuff or I feel guilty that I’ve asked for time away and instantly miss them both.

I was a person who never envisioned herself having kids, but am truly so happy it happened for me. That said, I feel guilty missing my pre-parent life. I miss being selfish without even thinking about it. I miss being ALONE. Dinner alone, walks with just the dogs, Netflix binging, making plans on the weekend, brushing my hair, sitting in silence, reading a book to completion, taking a bath alone, taking a crap alone, all of these things sound next to impossible when I am in the darkness of motherhood.

Joe was a high maintenance baby, but so are trillions of other babies. So, I also feel guilty complaining about my perfectly healthy, yet constantly needy baby. But sometimes he can drive me up the wall. Noah does not sleep at night and the exhaustion changes you. I don’t know who I am sometimes and often wonder where I’ve gone. 

Somedays I can handle the demands, the cling. On my bad days, it feels like they are always on, always needing something, and I am unable to please them in any way. Someone in the house is always teething, hungry, tired, waking up, going through a growth spurt, shitting everywhere, needing mom. I am constantly trying to be calmer than I feel.

My body is constantly being kicked, pushed, clung to, sucked on, hugged, kissed, and slapped. Joe uses me as a jungle gym almost every night before bed. Then, when Pat comes into snuggle, I take it terribly because I just want to be left alone for 5 minutes.

Speaking of Pat, he’s always on. Always helps. Always asks what he can do; how he can contribute. I have a very present partner in all of this and on my dark days, it’s never enough. I don’t know where to even start to ask for help. On my dark days, I am already drowning and the surface is too far out of sight.

And I don’t think it’s fair to play it off like some of us aren’t cut out for the role. I know I am a good mom, but I am a good mom who is willing to admit that she has bad days. There is drudgery in motherhood and it kills me that we are not allowed to discuss it. These days don’t last long for me; sometimes they only last more than a few hours or minutes even, but I think if we could all be open about the darkness, then it would be much easier to see the light.

Motherhood is the most sacrificial role of all time. No career compares to the physical, emotional, relational sacrifices you make as a mother each second of your life. Everything takes a dive in a way once you become a mother. But, it is also the deepest rooted love of all time.

I can’t even begin to explain how deep the love goes. (and I’ve tried) It’s incomprehensible; inexplicable. So, it really only makes sense that this amount of sacrifice comes with the territory of becoming a mom. You can’t experience love like this without pain and suffering. Motherhood is this insane game of tug of war trying to balance this insurmountable love and the responsibilities that come with it.

Expectations need lowered and then lowered again and then lowered 10 more times.

If you said what is a wife? I wouldn’t say me. I would give it a trillion definitions and probably say I’m this “kind” of wife, but if you say what is a mom? I would say me and it seems to be the same definition across the board, but it shouldn’t be. It should be a 1000 different definitions for 1000 different moms.

So, I am admitting that sometimes I struggle with motherhood and am writing so that if you are, too, it’s ok to admit it. It actually feels better when I admit it. I don’t live a romanticized version of motherhood. My house is rarely clean, my kids are rarely clothed, I am almost never showered, but we enjoy each other for the most part and live pretty damn happy lives.

I could drive the struggle bus somedays, but if you are on it too, feel free to hop on board. I’m decent company.

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  • Reply Chris January 23, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    Love… Every… Single…. Article you write.

    • Reply January 24, 2018 at 3:12 pm

      I’m flattered you read them. Thank you. 🙂

  • Reply Paula January 23, 2018 at 10:38 pm

    Oh wow, so very true! But to actual admit or talk about it seemed so wrong! Love you, Shelby, you are an awesome mother! From your crazy ass aunt!

    • Reply January 24, 2018 at 3:11 pm

      Hi Crazy Aunt! Thanks for reading! Miss you and love you, too!

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