Our society has come a long way towards accepting and validating difficult emotions, mental health struggles, and so much more. And yet there are so many moms out there who are still struggling with the fact that they are not enjoying motherhood the way they thought they should.
It’s not that you don’t love your kids. It’s probably not even that you hate being a mom. It’s just that so much of what you thought motherhood would be like just isn’t matching your reality – and that’s sometimes difficult.
Motherhood is hard and it’s rarely glamorous, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t love every moment of it.
Motherhood Didn’t Love Me…At First
My hubby and I struggled with infertility for three years before we welcomed our first son. So you can imagine that in that time period I spent a lot of time dreaming and planning the perfect life with a new baby.
I would exclusively breastfeed until he was at least a year old. I was going to be a baby-wearing, homemade-baby-food-making, baby led weaning, momma.
We would skip an infant carseat and just go straight to convertible because why waste money on something we’d only use a few months? We would have the perfect nursery, we would sleep train perfectly and everything would be a dream.
And then Samuel was born. And reality didn’t match the picture I had built up in my head.
He came early because of pre-eclampsia. I struggled to breastfeed because I just couldn’t get the hang of it and, honestly, I hated waking up overnight to feed him.
I was struggling with so many postpartum hormones (which I later realized was probably closer to postpartum depression). I didn’t feel the overwhelming adoration for this new little human.
I loved him a ton, don’t get me wrong. But I just felt so selfish because all I wanted to do was sleep and I didn’t have the energy or motivation to meet his needs.
He was jaundiced which meant driving 35 minutes one way almost every day for the first week of his life to monitor his bilirubin levels. Then we discovered he had severe GERD which meant he was constantly spitting up entire feedings and needing his clothes changed.
Because he couldn’t keep food down, he was struggling to gain weight and so we spent much of the first few months of his life back and forth to the doctor for weight checks, tests, labs, x-rays, and specialist visits to try to find a solution to help him stay healthy.
Because of his reflux he wasn’t a great sleeper and cried a lot of the time. He choked once too, which sent me into a panic. My husband and I fought more than we had ever fought before because I just wasn’t coping well with motherhood.
And just about the time that I finally started settling into my new role and finding my groove, I found out I was pregnant again – a pregnancy we hadn’t planned for so soon after our first.
When It All Changed For Me
It was around four months after Sam was born that I finally broke down and sought help for myself. I just couldn’t continue on in the mental state I had been in. It wasn’t healthy for me or anyone around me.
So I started seeing a therapist, and then a psychologist, and I got on medication. And the darkness lifted almost immediately for me!
Of course, it was only a few weeks after starting my new meds that we found out I was expecting baby #2 and I had to quit taking my meds. I was surprised, to say the least. It’s not that we didn’t want more children, we’ve always wanted a big family.
We just didn’t expect it to happen so quickly.
Because it took us 3 years to get pregnant the first time, we opted not to prevent pregnancy thinking it was likely that it would take that long the next time too. And our doctor agreed.
And so when that positive test came up it was a shock and it took us both some time to get excited again.
By God’s grace alone I was able to make it through my second pregnancy with little to no complications with my physical or mental health, even though I wasn’t able to be medicated for my depression.
I found other ways to cope that helped me manage the symptoms while we awaited our second precious son.
And since our little E man was born, I’ve been happily plugging along and loving my role as momma to these two amazing little boys!
But that’s not to say I love every moment of motherhood…
The Lies I Believed About Motherhood
Before I had kids, there were some things I believed needed to be true in order to be a good mom. But as I’ve grown into my role as mom, I’ve learned there is no such thing as absolute truth in parenting.
There are some lies we believe that make us feel like we’re failing when in reality, we’re totally crushing it! So let’s talk about those lies (and the truths that they are hiding)…
The Lie: I wasn’t meant to be a mom
I vividly recall one night not long after Samuel was born that I just was an emotional hot mess. My poor husband, God bless him. I don’t even remember what happened.
What I do remember is sitting in the living room holding my baby boy bawling my eyes out and telling my husband we should have never had kids while apologizing over and over to my sweet baby boy for not being good enough.
I believed I just wasn’t cut out to be a mom and that my family deserved better than me.
That was mostly just the postpartum hormones talking, but the deep fear those beliefs revealed is that I wasn’t meeting the expectations I had for what it tooks to be a good mom.
I was failing my son and my husband. And surely everyone would be better off without me.
The Truth: You are exactly where you’re meant to be
As humans, we make all sorts of mistakes. Maybe you didn’t plan to become a mom when you did. Maybe you didn’t plan to become a mom at all. Maybe you realized too late that your partner isn’t the person you want to raise kids with.
Maybe you feel like you made a mistake by having kids. But God doesn’t make mistakes. You were chosen to be this precious soul’s momma, with all of your flaws and doubts and struggles.
But also with all of your strengths and talents and victories. You were meant for this. I was meant for this.
You know, a pretty well known author shared in her book that, “you can’t fail a job you were created to do,” in reference to parenting.
I disagree. I fail every dang day. But the good news is that God chose me for this. And as long as I am turning to him and doing my best, he will guide my path. Will I still fail? Most definitely!
But one of God’s greatest strengths is his ability to redeem even the most epic fails.
The Lie: There’s something wrong with me
When I didn’t immediately love motherhood, I was convinced it was me that was the problem. What kind of cruel horrible person would not absolutely adore everything about this beautiful, sweet, little babe?
Obviously I must have some issues.
We get this idea in our minds that being a mom is all sunshine and roses. I mean, of course we know that babies cry and poop and sometimes spit up, right? We know they don’t sleep through the night right away.
We have all the head knowledge. But when it comes down to it, motherhood is rarely like we expect it to be. And that makes us feel like we’re missing something.
The Truth: Motherhood is hard and you’re totally normal
For most of us, our expectations of what motherhood will be like are impossibly high. Even though we know the reality, experiencing it is something entirely different.
Listen, when you become a mom, it means you worked hard to get to that point. Labor isn’t easy. Adoption isn’t easy. Fostering isn’t easy.
All of those things take a ton of work and energy and there are lots of fears and anxieties wrapped up in all of it. So the fact that you made it through that deserves some recognition, momma!
And then once you bring your child home, it doesn’t get any easier. From sleepless nights to toddler tantrums to learning how to navigate all the fears and anxieties and stresses in your child’s life.
And then as they get older trying to navigate all these complex things, much of which we never had to deal with (social media anyone???)
It’s hard y’all! Like, I know it’s cliche, but these kids of ours didn’t come with a user manual. We’re literally figuring it out as we go. Sure, there are parenting books and loads of expert advice.
But there’s no consensus on one right way to do it. And every child is different. What works for my oldest just causes more problems with my youngest.
It’s all just trial and error and we often get it wrong more than we get it right.
The bottom line is, there’s nothing wrong with you. Being a mom is hard work, and just cause you don’t love every task of being a mom doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids.
The Lie: I can’t do this
Going back to my story about my emotional break down – the reality of the matter was that I felt like I was failing as a mom. I felt guilty that I gave up on breastfeeding too soon.
I felt guilty that I didn’t have more energy and more enthusiasm. I felt guilty that it was my husband that spent most nights up with Sam so I could sleep. There was just so much guilt.
I felt like I was never going to be enough. And because of that, I believed I just couldn’t do it.
I struggled to look past the moment I was in and recognize that the moment would pass. I couldn’t imagine the next day being any better, let alone think ahead weeks or months or even years. I was just surviving in the beginning.
And now that my boys are 3 & 2, I still have days where I just feel like this isn’t working. They fight, I yell. My husband gets mad at them and I jump in to mitigate. They whine and scream and beg and climb all over me.
They constantly need my attention. And then I just lose it. I’m human after all. But then the guilt sets in and I think, “Nope, I just can’t do it.”
The Truth: I can do this with help
The truth is, we can do lots of things we never thought we could do. We do hard things all the time. I gave birth in a tub of water without pain meds. Talk about empowering!
I was so nervous and there were many times I was ready to throw in the towel. But I did it!
(I also gave birth after two days of induction, had a needle shoved in my spine for an epidural during peak contractions, and made it through that. No shame to all the mommas who did birth the way that works best for them!)
Sure there are hard days. There are times when I’m at the end of my rope and all my patience is gone. There are days when I’m sick or tired or sick and tired.
There are days when the boys are extra cranky and I just can’t seem to pull it together and get through the day.
But in reality, it’s not that I can’t, it’s that I don’t. When we fail at something it’s not because of lack of ability. It’s because of lack of education, training, or support.
With the right tools in our toolbox, we can do almost anything. It just takes time and practice. You can do it. I know you can.
The Lie: My child deserves better
I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve thought my kids would be better off if I wasn’t there momma. Those moments when I totally blow a gasket over their behavior even though I know in my head that they aren’t trying to cause a problem.
My emotions get the best of me more often than I’d like to admit. And then I feel like a big fat failure because I know my words and actions may cause lasting damage that I can’t take back.
Every time I yell or punish or even the couple of times I totally lost it and smacked my oldest son’s butt because I didn’t know what else to do in that moment and I just needed the struggle to stop.
Yea, I’ve been there just the same as I’m sure you have. The mom guilt is real.
The Truth: Your children need you and no one can take your place
In those moments of upset when everything feels wrong and I feel like I’m the biggest failure in the world, that’s when I want to give up and I tell myself they’d be better off without me.
But then I’m reminded just how wrong that belief is when they still come to me for comfort and love even after I’ve let them down. When they are so quick to forgive even when I know I don’t deserve it.
No matter how much I screw up, my kids still want me. They still need me. They still love me. I can’t explain it, but it’s my reality.
That’s not to say we can’t work on doing better in the future. For sure, even children in abusive homes still turn to their abusers for comfort. But the fact that you’re here is a pretty good indication that’s not your situation.
The reality is that God put these children in our lives. He made us their parents. And it’s because he knows we have what it takes to raise them. To love and support and nurture them. Do we do that perfectly? Nope!
But God knows we have the capacity to do it well.
Being a mom is hard, y’all. Don’t let your temporary feelings of inadequacy or failure or even lack of enthusiasm convince you that something is wrong with you or that you’re not capable.
You are strong and brave and loving and you’re the perfect momma for your kids. God could have chosen anyone in the world to be their mom, but he chose you. And that means something.
It’s ok if you’re not enjoying motherhood exactly how you thought you would. Most of us aren’t. Welcome to the club! 😉