Years ago, when I was a mom to only 2 sons, I was watching a talk show about Motherhood. A panel of moms, some veterans and some brand new first time moms, sat up on a stage and one by one they confessed how even though they loved their children more than life itself, they struggled with doubts and questioned their choices as a mother on a daily basis.
Except one.
One mother, a mom of one child, sat there all cocky and snide at the end of the row and stated that she NEVER felt anything but 100% assurance in her ability as a mother. She swore she never had a moment of uncertainty or resentment or frustration. She never felt anything but pure zen-like love flowing out and over and around her precious child.
I sat there yelling “BULLSHIT!!!!” at my television screen. She couldn’t hear me. But her words, and her “Better than you” attitude pist me off. Maybe she thought she was making herself look like a better mom if she denied she ever felt any doubt, fear, anger, etc… But frankly, all she was doing was making teh rest of teh moms on that panel go “Well, what the heck is wrong with ME?”
So, look, to all of you new moms or seasoned moms who scroll down your FaceBook newsfeed and see photos of other peoples perfectly dressed children doing perfect things in perfect places….let me be the first to say “Its all bullshit.”
Not that that stuff is all fake. Those aren’t staged photos. Positive moments happen, sure. But don’t you for one solitary minute believe that their family sings Disney songs in perfect harmony while driving to their outing. Don’t buy into the lie that other families are doing it better. We are all, as parents, just fumbling our way through this. Sometimes we know the solution right away and we can stand up triumphantly and go “Ah-ha!” and don our SuperMom cape and everyone lives happily ever after. And other times we get frustrated and yell. Even though we swore we were going to start being one of those moms who NEVER yells. We yell loud enough for the neighbors to hear. We yell stupid sentences like “If you don’t stop licking your brothers cup right NOW youre going to bed without dinner!” We try a discipline technique and it doesn’t work and our child stands there in front of us, all cocky and defiant like they’re challenging us and in our mind we flip them off or punch them in the face.
Oh calm down. I didn’t say you ACTUALLY punch them in the face. But don’t tell me you have never reached a point where you are SO aggravated and they are being SUCH a smartass that your teeth clench and your fists clench and you say “Get.” Because you know if they don’t you will be very tempted to shove them in a box and ship them to Zimbabwe.
See that adorably perfect photo I posted online? I managed to get all 6 of my sons to sit and smile oh-so-perfectly for the camera and you look at it and go “Holy CRAP. How’d she get SIX kids to do that? I can’t even get my one 4 year old to sit still long enough to get a photo!”
Newsflash. You can’t see the 2 dozen OTHER photos that didn’t make it to FaceBook. The ones where my 12 year old was complaining that the sun was in his eyes and rubbing his eyes out of his face while I yelled “STOP rubbing your eyes, youre gonna make them red!” The ones where my 8 year old was pouting, arms crossed, looking pissy. The ones where the baby was crying while the 10 year old tried to hold him and I am yelling “Hold him up and make him stop crying!”(as if he has some super power) and the 4 year old is chewing on his shirt and they all look sweaty and squinty eyed from the sun and I finally holler “EVERYONE JUST PRETEND TO LOOK HAPPY AND THEN WE CAN GO GET ICE CREAM!”
Thats the picture YOU saw. The bribe-em-with-icecream picture.
Or the status updates where I inform the world that I made some delicious home made dinner, complete with dessert and you’re reading it while your kids are eating boxed mac & cheese. What I DIDN’T post, is that while I cooked that dinner the 4 year old repeatedly begged for a snack and when I told him “No snacks” he threw himself under my feet and wailed and wailed and wailed until I wanted to put HIM in a pot and cook him. I didn’t mention in my post how the 12 year old wandered into the kitchen where I was chopping and sauteing and sweating to death and informed me he won’t eat anything spicy, anything with onions, anything with peppers. (Basically every damn ingredient in the meal I am preparing.) The baby knocked over every canned good in the pantry and rolled them around the kitchen, turning my dinner preparation into a death-defying task as I step over rolling cans. The 6 year old had an epic meltdown because his two older brothers got to lick the beaters from the cake I baked and he didn’t. And I repeated the phrase “Get out of my kitchen right now! ” ten trillion times.
Look, there is no such thing as a mom who has it all together 100% of the time. Perfection is an illusion. Do I love my children? You betcha. I love my kids with so much love that at times it overwhelms me. They are my heart and soul. I would die for them. I truly would. But there are moments when they infuriate me. I have had moments when I lock myself in the bathroom and just cry while the shower water runs. There are days I wonder what my life would have turned out like if I had never had kids. There are days I yell. Days I let them watch 3 movies in a row and we don’t do a sing family-oriented thing because I am stressed or exhausted or simply burnt out. There are days the ugly in me comes roaring out and I’m not PROUD of who I am in those moments, but its real and its a part of me. As a mom and as a person.
My oldest son has Aspergers and Sensory Proccesing Disorder.He punches his brothers if they get into his space or touch his stuff. He doesnt let anything go. He is impulsive and obsessive. Socially awkward. My 10 year old has anger issues.He used to get violent. He is getting better but he still has days he gets mad and yells out cuss words and takes off outside to hide in the woods for an hour. My 8 year old is over dramatic and will melt down and dissolve into LOUD crying ten times a day. My 6 year old has mastered the art of blending the 10 year olds anger with the 8 year olds dramatic crying fests and made it his very own style. He also has a very difficult time in social situations. My 4 year old likes to destroy his room anytime he gets mad. The room he shares with 2 of his brothers. Tears clothes out of dresser drawers, rips stuff off walls, dumps out toy bins, etc…… Like a little tornado. He has done it a few times and my initial reaction was pure anger toward him and I had to walk away and let Chris deal with it. Because Chris can go in and be firm but amazingly patient and make him clean it all back up. But all I want to do is yell and shake my son in that moment because I just spent an hour of my life folding those clothes and helping them tidy up that room.
Some days are exhausting. Some days one of my children fall asleep crying and I lay in bed feeling like a huge failure of a mom because GOOD moms kiss their children sweetly on the forehead and tuck them in and say “Sweet dreams honey” and their children fall asleep with a smile on their face. Last night one of my sons fell asleep on the hallway floor because I refused to give them a snack at 11 p.m. So, they “cried” for a half hour before passing out. You know, that loud, obnoxious no-tears cry kids do at times. Some days are easier than others. Some days everything runs the way you want it to.
But other days…..
I remember when my now-4 year old was a newborn and had colic. He was my 5th son. You would think by that point I would be a pro at all things baby-related. Oh sure, I knew every trick in the book. I rolled up my sleeves and said “I got this.”
And fell flat on my face.
Because my infant son didn’t give one ounce of a sliver of a damn about all of my supposedly fool-proof tricks. All he wanted to do was squall and spit up and squirm and scream until his entire body turned beet red. And then KEEP doing it for a solid 4 or 5 more hours. I tried everything. Nothing helped. So, I lay in my bed, a screaming miserable infant on my chest whiel I just cried along with him. My mother, who was living with us at that time, came into my room to find her daughter laying there helplessly, big fat tears rolling down her cheeks while her grandson screamed right in her face. She scooped up that screaming baby and told me to try to get some sleep and took that squalling baby out of my bedroom. The closed bedroom door muffled his cries and I lay there thinking “I understand why people shake their babies.” Not that I ever WOULD, mind you. But on that night, and many after that, until he finally quit the colic, I could very clearly see how, if you don’t have a support system, if you are worn to the very core of yourself, if you don’t have proper coping skills in place, you can so easily snap. Because motherhood is damn hard. It is physically and emotionally straining. You survive on 4 hours of interrupted sleep, half of which you spend with a tiny human suckling on you. You get up and meet the constant needs of a person who won’t even once in the entire day say thank you for it. You get peed on, puked on, called a “Meanie Face”, get informed the meal you spent 2 hours making is “gross and looks weird”. You don’t even get the basic human privelege of peeing alone. Its a wonder we survive, its a wonder our children survive.
Raising children into functioning adults is a daunting task at best. So do not for one single minute believe that maybe everyone else is doing it better than you. Trust me on this, we are ALL figuring it out as we go along. I have friends who are pregnant with their first child and they have doubts about how they will handle labor, how they will have enough money to pay rent when they take maternity leave, whether they can handle this whole parenting gig in the first place. I have friends who are first time moms and they are going nuts trying to figure out how to get their toddler to stop throwing tantrums in the store and how to poop IN the potty, not NEXT to it.They say to me “I don’t know HOW you do it with 6! I can’t even handle ONE!” I have to tell them I felt the SAME way when i had just one. I was exhausted and overwhelmed and pulling my hair out with my one son. Then I had two and I went “Holy crap! WHY did we have another one!?” Because it changed the whole dynamics and threw me for a loop and I wished I could go back to the “easy” days when I just had one child. And forget about when we had 3 kids and my husband and I were officially outnumbered. EVERY part of motherhood is hard. I have friends who are seasoned experienced moms. These are the women I go to for advice. And even THEY have moments of doubt and worry and struggle. They message me on FaceBook asking me to pray for their son who is making some seriously unwise life choices. They message me about their daughter who has an attitude from hell and may possibly not survive her last year of high school because her mother wants to kill her somedays.
Perfection is an illusion. Motherhood is HARD. Maybe if we admitted a little more often that we are struggling, we would have more of a support system. You know that phrase “It takes a village…”? Maybe we need to stop hiding behind our “Perfect Mommy” masks and start seeking that village.


2 responses »

  1. I couldnt have said it better … thank you for your honesty! Being a parent is the most wonderfully frustrating project Ive ever taken on … and I wouldn’t change a thing.

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