Have you been overwhelmed, clueless, and tired all at the same time? Have you lost your temper, felt so guilty you cried, forgotten to wash your hair today? If you have not slept in multiple nights, no one seems to listen to anything you say unless you are yelling, or you feel as if you could run away and never come back, I am quite certain some small human calls you Mama.
I have heard countless mothers rave that motherhood is amazing. With looks of adoration and candy-coated words, they gush about story time, play dates, and how smart their child is. Things like “Being a mother is so rewarding” and “I wish I could have 10 of them” spurt from their mouths.
I, on the other hand, find the experience less enlightening. Being a mom is hard!
I’m writing this for the moms like me, who secretly feel as if you want to cry, have boarded the struggle bus and can’t get off, or are dreaming about wine before noon. Honestly, parenting is not what I signed up for and I am ready to void the contract. Can anyone relate?
Here is the disclaimer before I dive into the nitty gritty: I love my son. I mean, truly love his guts. I would die for him, and though many times I don’t like him, I love him so much it hurts. But is love enough?
When I began this parenting journey over 14 years ago, I had eaten up all the sugary ooze I had heard mothers tell me for years. Like the mothers I had spoken with at work, as well as the characters on my favorite sitcom, I would be the perfect mom and motherhood would complete me. We were going to be the picture-perfect family.
Back then, I would have told you I was going to have more than just one child. I imagined walks in the park hand-in-hand, trips to the library, matching outfits, tea parties — you know, those things perfect moms do.
Guess what? I was dead wrong. Instead of picture-perfect, my story was blemished. My bundle of joy did not sleep through the night until he was 10 years old. The trip to the library I had daydreamed about, where I would pull him into my lap and read him a book, was instead a battle between the concept of whispering and screaming. A walk in the park? Well, let’s call it a chase in the park. And there was no tea party, unless you count the Long Island iced tea I longed for starting at noon.
So, what can this imperfect mother tell you that you don’t already know? Very little. Being a mother is not easy. To be honest, I am winging it. Life. Motherhood. My eyeliner. Everything.
Motherhood makes me question everything I thought I was good at. Quintessential mom? I’m far from it. I thought I was patient; I am not. I do not bake cookies. I do not play games with my child. Homework with my son, forget it! In fact, I am the “drop the F-bomb” type of mom. I am the mom who loses her shit. I am the mom who wakes up every day and hopes I am not completely scarring my mini-human.
If you feel the way I do, you are not alone. Many of us feel overwhelmed. The recent pandemic has not helped.
A study by ForbesWomen as well as a website called Bump.com dated 2011 cited “92 percent of working moms and 89 percent of stay-at-home moms feel overwhelmed by work, home and parenting responsibilities. Much of this self-inflicted grief is encouraged by social media images of a super working mom who looks glamorous while cooking, washing, babysitting and holding down a full-time job.”
In a report dated almost 10 years later (May 2021), Today.com says that “83% of moms feel burnt out by pandemic parenting. More than two-thirds of moms (69%) reported feeling overwhelmed, according to an online, unscientific survey of more than 1,200 moms, and 64% shared that the past year has been extremely hard.”
Being a parent is like folding a fitted sheet: no one really knows how. But on the other hand, no one is willing to admit they are clueless.
The truth is that no mother is perfect, though they feel better by making you think they are. In a study called the New Parents Project, Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan found “Worrying about what others think of their parenting saps mothers’ confidence, leading them to experience parenting as less enjoyable and more stressful.” Society has painted parenthood as a rewarding, perfect experience. Social media has not helped this portrayal because most parents do not post pictures of the circus that is truly going on in their home.
Being a mother is hard and messy. There, I said it. I am not a fan.
This idea that motherhood was going to be some magical, rewarding experience has left me dumbfounded. My identity is no longer Chris, 45-year-old female on a quest to kick life’s ass. Instead, I am a chauffeur, chef, maid, and coordinator of chaos. Though I struggle every day to find balance — to forgive myself for what I feel I have messed up, to navigate the different and constant trials of parenthood — I am a good mom.
Behind every great kid is a mom who’s pretty sure she’s screwing it up. Instead of desperately striving for perfection, I urge you to embrace the chaos. After years of falling short of the expectations of the perfect parenting journey in my head, I am now happier because I can be real, honest, and simply pray for the peace to accept what I truly am. All I can do, every single day, is try to be better than I was the day before.
Fellow moms, some days we will fail — but many more days we will succeed. The good news is, though we may not love every second of this rollercoaster ride called parenthood, our children will grow up to be productive members of society. And maybe they too will become parents. They, too, will question if they are doing a good job.
And hopefully, they’ll reminiscence on the childhood you tried so very hard to make perfect despite all its flaws, and smile.
These celebrity moms make us all feel better when they share the highs and lows of parenting.
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