The picture we often get of motherhood is either one of rosy homesteading where children are nothing but a joy, or one of constant sacrifice where children are nothing but a burden until it’s 5 ‘o clock and we can have a glass of wine.
But if you don’t fit into either of those stereotypes (or more likely, you move on the spectrum between the two each day), you might find yourself feeling alone. This motherhood dichotomy can make you feel alone in your struggles and alone in your victories. When we aren’t sharing the whole picture as mothers, we can’t get the support we need or the celebration we deserve.
Here are five things I wish moms everywhere would talk more about — to new moms, on social media, with acquaintances, to their single friends. If we all share a little bit more about what we’re going through, we’re inviting others to share their struggles in motherhood as well.
You may not find your tribe
You’ve undoubtedly heard people bragging about their “tribe,” the fellow moms that they can turn to for advice, play dates, commiseration and girls getaways. Sometimes it seems like a tribe is something you’re supposed to be automatically assigned as soon as you become a mother. But I wish more people would talk about the fact that you might not find your tribe at all. It’s hard enough to keep in touch or make new friends as adults, let alone finding ones in the exact stage of life with a compatible parenting style. Those moms may not find you. Or it may take a long time, long after you needed advice on post-partum hair loss or potty training. It might take hard work and failed attempts. I’ve gone to meet-ups, talked to women in the library, joined apps and clubs, and I only just feel like I’m finding people that fit me, five years after I got pregnant. If you haven’t found your people, you’re not alone.
Motherhood is basically just mixed feelings
There’s an expectation that we are supposed to brush past any negative emotions associated with motherhood. Focus on the positive, count your blessings, enjoy the moment.
I wish it was a little more normal to talk about all the feelings we have as moms, especially the ones that seem to contradict each other. There are the normal ones we’re comfortable to admit: we’re so happy to see our kids grow up but it’s sad to let go of the babies they used to be. But there are so many other mixed feelings. Wanting to stay home and not miss a moment, but wanting to go to work and move your career forward. Knowing your family is complete, but sometimes wanting just one more baby. Feeling guilty for all the things you aren’t giving to your kids, but proud of making it through each day. Being happy for your friends’ good news, but jealous that things haven’t always gone the way you want. Hoping to be the parent your kid prefers, but desperately needing a break from them.
Sometimes our warm feelings go hand-in-hand with negative ones we wish we didn’t feel, but if more moms would acknowledge them, maybe we’d be able to work through them more easily.
You don’t need to show off
When you look at Instagram, you’ll see a lot of mom influencers with pristine kitchens, white couches, smiling kiddos and beach vacations. And even though we know that’s not reality, that invisible pressure to show the world that we’re #blessed creeps in, and not just on social media. You see it when an acquaintance starts to complain and immediately course-corrects with “But of course I love my kids so much!” You see it when someone tells you about their family trip, but doesn’t mention anything about how exhausting it was. You see it when a friend of a friend wants to make sure you know exactly what their kids are excelling at.
We all know that having kids is hard, and sometimes our kids are struggling or maybe just being jerks — and not in the funny-anecdote kind of way. I wish more people would share the ugly parts of raising new humans — the impatient moments, the breakdowns, the solutions that didn’t work, the hard-earned wins. That way we can feel a little less alone, get needed support from each other, and celebrate the accomplishments together. It’s okay to not like every moment of motherhood, and it’s okay to say so.
A lot of hard, gross stuff happens on the way to becoming a mom
There is no easy way to bring a child into your life. If you gave birth, you know pregnancy does strange things to your body and that there’s a lot more that comes out of you than just a baby, things you never learned about in sex ed. For a lot of people, getting pregnant and staying pregnant is a struggle they never expected. And if you adopted, the emotional toll can weigh you down. Let’s talk about these things! Focusing only on the sterile, joyful aspects of having a new baby does us all a disservice and keeps new moms from getting the support they need. Let’s all be real so other moms know they can reach out if they’re struggling and that we aren’t interested only in how the baby is doing.
You know what happens when you tell someone that you’re worried you aren’t doing enough, scared you’re screwing up your kids, or feeling like you can’t handle what you’re going through? You get support and commiseration. Even the most confident, veteran moms have moments of self-doubt. Let’s let other moms see that. It’s hard to be vulnerable, but if we all vow to share the whole picture of motherhood, maybe the image of moms will stop being such a caricature and start representing the full range of emotions we all feel.
Photo Credit :: Noelle Westcott Photography