You didn’t expect to feel this way about motherhood.
Tell me if these thoughts resonate with you just a bit:
You love kids, not just your own, but the bonus children in your life through friends and family. They’re sweet and cute, and you honestly can’t imagine your life without them. You always knew you’d be a mother one day. It wasn’t really something you had to think about. It was just an intrinsic part of your DNA — as factual as any other scientific reality: Water is wet. Oxygen is essential. You would be a mother.
The positive pregnancy test was good news to you. Each month of waiting nurtured excitement more than anxiety. You held tiny little newborn clothes in your hands and imagined meeting the perfect new human who would wear them.
Maybe labor was traumatic for you; maybe it wasn’t. Either way, it was a blip on the radar of parenthood. You were more focused on what came after the hospital gown and lactation consultations. Whatever happened would be worth it to finally know this precious child, to be someone’s mother from the moment of delivery until the end of time itself.
So why did you feel like screaming when your 13-month-old still wouldn’t sleep through the night? Why did you lose your mind when your toddler did typical toddler things? Why do you feel like you can’t breathe sometimes? Why is it SO HARD? Why is something you always wanted so overwhelming? What happens after the fairytale ending, the glorious meet cute of mother meets baby — when you get everything you ever desired, and it turns out it’s really, really demanding of your body, mind, and soul?
Is it anxiety, or is it humanity? Where is the line? Do you need help? Does everyone feel this way? How do some women have six children and still greet you warmly by name and invite you to dinner? How do some women work high-powered career jobs and still run marathons and cook healthy meals? You don’t mean to compare. Comparison is the thief of joy. You know this. You believe this.
What if you were wrong? What if you weren’t really made to be a mother? What if you’re terrible at this? What if you’re not enough?
Here’s the terrible, wonderful truth: You are actually not enough.
It’s true. I’m sorry. I know it was rude to tell you so bluntly. But you need to hear it.
Think of your own story. Were all your hopes and dreams and needs fulfilled by your mother? Of course not.
You had people — aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, mentors, coaches, friends. You had so many people who invested in your life and helped you figure out who you were and what you valued.
You never expected your own mother to be perfect. You didn’t expect her to be anywhere close to perfect if we’re being honest. So why do you expect it of yourself?
Another terrible, wonderful truth? We all have different capacities — just like we are different heights and have different hair colors. Some women can genuinely handle more than you. Is that fair? Probably not. But we gave up the expectation of life being fair somewhere around the age of four, right?
Maybe you’re not as high capacity of a mother as you expected. Maybe that’s disappointing. Lots of things are disappointing.
What I’m trying to say is this: give yourself a darn break!
I gave my kids hot dogs two nights in a row, and my son declared it the best week of dinners in the history of our family. My husband and I must be home to put our 2-year-old to bed, or he absolutely freaks out, so our most recent date night was playing Mario Kart until midnight in our living room. I have so many unmatched socks piled up that I threw away an entire sock drawer and bought all new ones.
I am giving us all a break, and motherhood is starting to feel fun again. Because honestly? It wasn’t for a minute there. I was so overwhelmed and guilt-ridden by all of the things I wasn’t doing that I couldn’t be fully emotionally present for the good times.
If you’re looking for a sign to let things go and reevaluate your expectations of yourself, here’s that sign. You’re going to be okay. Some seasons of motherhood will be amazing, and some will feel like someone kicked you in the emotional shin. Some days are for climbing mountains, and some are for taking naps. Whatever metaphor you need, embrace the mindset behind it.