I’m now in my 10th year of motherhood. And I think it’s fair to say at this point that there were a few things missing from the books, classes, and support groups. Things that, if I had known about may have made me think a little harder about becoming a mother.
So let’s just kick it off with a real doozey, shall we?
Before becoming a mother, no one had the decency to tell me that my daughter would go through a sh*t-playing phase.
Seriously, that’s some important information.
It’s the shock of your life the first time it happens. You’re innocently walking up the stairs to get her up from her nap. By the time your foot lands on the second stair tread, you smell it – human excrement. “Oh, she’s had an accident”, you think as you continue up the stairs. The smell gets stronger. “Man…it must be a bad one!”
You enter the room, still naively assuming that she’s let one rip. Or, at worst, it’s a blow-out. (You’ll be hoping it’s a blow-out after you see what’s waiting for you.)
You approach the crib. To your horror, you see it – SH*T IS EVERYWHERE!
It’s on the bedding. It’s on the crib. It tried to get on the walls but luckily you have the crib just far enough away that it couldn’t make it. It’s, of course, all over her.
And soon it will be all over you, my friend.
There’s no getting around it. It would take a hazmat suit to avoid it. Somehow, some way – you must get that child to the bathroom and into the tub pronto, all while fighting the gagging, I’m gonna hurl feeling churning in your stomach.
Friends – this is parenting. And here’s a secret – this is NOT a one-time event.
You think it is at first, “Surely, she’ll never do THAT again.” But it happens – multiple times, it happens again. Tempting, isn’t it?
Now I’m not trying to discourage would-be parents from having children. Having children is a beautiful thing. But it’s insanely hard (the scenario above being just one in a very long line of examples). And our society has a very nasty habit of primarily sharing only the positive aspects of parenthood. But that’s not the whole story.
It doesn’t take long after becoming a parent to feel that the whole thing has been one giant set-up! Why? Because no one told you the real truth about what it’s like to be a parent.
There is a stigma in our society that says if you don’t love being a parent, something is wrong with you. Or worse, if you don’t love being a parent, your children are in harm’s way.
Why do we do this to mothers?
Would you agree to undergo an operation or start on a new medication without knowing both the pros and cons? What are the risks? What’s the likelihood of failure? What are the possible side-effects?
No, of course not. You would want all the information so that you could make an informed decision.
Well, we don’t bother to give mothers the same courtesy. We don’t tell them all the information before they make the lifelong decision to have children.
Don’t we owe it to them to be real? To tell them – “Think very carefully about this decision, because once you have that baby, there’s no going back. It’s literally the full-time job you can never quit… There is no paid time off, no sick days, no vacation, no 9-5, and no Monday-Friday. You are quite literally, stuck.”
The Odd Moms Club is all about being real, and honest, and transparent. I don’t want to be that person who isn’t honest about motherhood. So, in addition to your kid possibly going through a sh*t-playing phase, here are some other things you should know.
Odd Moms, I’m keepin’ it real here. Enjoy the baby phase! I know you’re not sleeping and that this little humanoid has taken over every aspect of your life. But for now, you are only responsible for keeping them alive…they need to eat, sleep, pee, and poop – repeat. This is the easy part! It absolutely gets harder the older they get! They start talking. Then walking. And before you know it, they think they’re runnin’ the damn show! As they get older, you now have to make sure you’re not raising an asshole – and that’s harder than you think it is.
Everything that made you, you before having children, may slowly disappear. You won’t even realize it’s happening. As mothers, we naturally start putting our children first and the things we loved to do for ourselves slip to the wayside. This can be avoided, but it takes a conscious effort. You’ve been warned.
Remember – you’re now responsible for keeping another human alive. That means you’re operating on their schedule.
All those things you did so easily before you had a child? They are now 10x more difficult to do.
You’re not going to the gym whenever you want. Or shopping on a whim – cramped dressing room with a fussy baby…good times (said no one ever).
Everything you do now has to be coordinated around someone else’s schedule.
Would you work 24/7 at your day job? Even if you love it, you need a break, right? That’s normal. That’s healthy! Without breaks, we get burned out. From burnout, we can experience exhaustion, depression, high levels of stress, and even changes in our physical body.
All mothers need breaks. Allow yourself this. Give yourself permission to make time for yourself.
Eighteen years, right? You just have to make it through 18 years. Then they’re gone. You cast them out into the world to forge their own path.
But what if they never leave? Or what if they leave and then come back? Are you prepared for that? Are you prepared to be lifetime caretaker?
Are you prepared for that? Are you prepared to be lifetime caretaker?
Are you prepared to be a lifetime caretaker?
Don’t be fooled…they absolutely know what they are doing. This is a deliberate attempt to drive us crazy. And most of the time, they succeed.
Personally, I have a low tolerance to noise. Especially repetitive noises, like a pen clicking. Drives me up a wall. I don’t know what it is about my anatomy but even in a room full of people and lots of activity, my ears will zero in on that one sound. And it will literally be the only thing I hear.
Imagine my agony when it’s my child doing this and there’s only the two of us in the room. There’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.
This is a hard one because we all want to go it alone. “I don’t need any help!” “I’m fine!” “Life is GREAT!”
You will know when this isn’t true. And when you realize it, you may fight it. I did. It took me a very long time to admit that I needed help in the form of medication. I felt like a failure. I thought, “I bet most mothers don’t need meds to get through their day.”
And then I stopped thinking about everyone else and looked at what was happening to me, my daughter, and our time together. It wasn’t good. Our relationship was suffering.
I still have my down moments, but I’m happy to say that things are much better than they used to be.
If you think medication will help, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor. It will be hard and painful in the moment you do it, but it will be worth it.
“No, no”, you say. “Hate my child?! That will never be me.” Oh, my friend, you are still looking at parenthood through your rose-colored glasses.
I have news for you – there will come a time, when you’re exhausted, when the stress has you almost broken, that your beautiful child will do something, anything, at the exact moment when you are at your lowest. Your patience has run out. Your tolerance is gone. The well of empathy we draw on every day to nurture our children has run dry. And in that moment, you will think to yourself, “I hate him”.
Don’t be scared by it. As quickly as the thought comes, it goes. You will collect yourself and get back to work.
For some women, this comes very early on in motherhood. For others, it may be a few years in. Regardless, this, as well, is a natural feeling.
You are experiencing something many, many other mothers have felt.
And it’s ok! It’s ok to feel like you’re not cut out for this job.
The truth is, none of us are perfect.
And whether or not we admit it, we’re all just figuring it out as we go and trying to do the best we can.
If someone tells you differently, they are lying and you don’t need them in your mom tribe.
Your feelings of guilt will clash with your feelings of love. You will have an ongoing internal battle with yourself. One day you may feel like mom of the year. The next, you’re wondering how the hell you ended up here.
I have often wondered if I made a mistake having my daughter. If someone had told me all these things, would I have made the same decision? Who knows. But I can tell you, it is time we stop shaming mothers who don’t love the job of parenting. They are not bad mothers. Their failure to find pleasure in an often unforgiving job is not their own. They simply didn’t have all the information.
Parenting is a hard-ass job. It’s time we start talking about it. And it’s past time we start supporting mothers who struggle with it.
Are you a mother who is struggling with the job of parenting? What help do you need? How could you be better supported? We can make a difference. Please share!