These pieces are really resonating with my mom friends if the number of links and shares is any indication. But you know what? They don't resonate with me.
For some reason - maybe since motherhood has become a competitive sport you can't win unless you're doing it all, bone tired, and just a little publicly resentful - I feel like I have to confess this. It can't simply be said - it must be whispered, but here I am writing it anyway.
I don't think motherhood is the hardest thing ever, unless you're raising a special needs child or you're living in abject poverty or your baby has a terminal illness or you live in a war zone. And even then there are moms who manage to raise kids for whom childhood is still utterly magical.
I'd rather be a mom than a factory worker in China. Motherhood is easier than picking crops for pennies in the heat of summer. I'm guessing it's overall less stressful than being a pediatric brain surgeon. In fact, it's not only less difficult than what I do for a living, but it's also more fun, more exciting, and more fulfilling.
When I hear someone say that being a mom is the hardest job, I sometimes wonder if I'm doing something wrong. What, exactly, am I letting slide that everyone else is working so diligently at? As I sit here assuming I'm doing a bang-up job as a mama, am I actually failing my little ones because I am not doing that certain something that all the other mothers are secretly doing? I don't know!
What I do know is that getting frazzled... there never being enough time... losing your cool... or conversely, giving your all... wishing you could do more... questioning who you are in the context of motherhood... these things are par for the course. I wouldn't say mothering is easy but it comes easily to me. I try my best, and I do what I need to do to care for my family, end of story.
Another confession: I have never felt like a bad mom. Ever. Am I saying I never have those mothering moments where I feel like I could really use a do over? Heck no. Just yesterday I was nearly bawling because we as a family had 'one of those nights' and I should have cut P. some slack because she had a hard day but instead I was sticking to my guns for no good reason.
Something new happens every day that makes me wish I could ctrl-z in real life, but that comes with the territory.
Moms and dads are people. We mess up. If we're good moms and dads, we apologize. And then we mess up again because parenting is a relationship and relationships are works in progress forever. If we're thoughtful (and lucky) our screw ups aren't too big and a little apology plus a big hug can put things right. Love can go a long way toward healing a multitude of hurts!
So here's the thing. I can't tell you what to feel. If motherhood seems like the hardest job you've ever taken on, then you must be working really hard at it and that's good.
But I hope you won't take offense if I suggest that on those days that being a mom really feels like a grind - so frustrating and exhausting and heartbreaking and never-ending - you step back. Take a look at what you're doing. Maybe you've bought into the idea of motherhood as a competition. Maybe you're trying too hard to fit into a Perfect Mother shaped box. Or maybe your kids are just being total turds that day, because that happens, too.
Could be that it's not the 'job' that's getting to you, but the culture or the pressure or even the miserable half hour of tantrumming you just endured. For the third time in one day.
Cut yourself some slack. Cut your kids some slack. Instead of wallowing in whatever is making your heart heavy, commit to making the rest of the day - even if there's just 45 minutes until bedtime - extra special. Pile in the car for a trip to the DQ. Be naughty and cuddle up on the couch to watch a show even though it's not movie night. Have a kitchen floor dance party. Get out the paints and get messy. Cuddle. Sing. Go for a twilight bike ride.
You may be surprised at how your outlook changes in the process.