I almost wrote a really nasty post the other day. About my children. And I was actually planning on publishing it. On Mother's Day.
Yeah. Suffice to say, I was having a rough time with the whole motherhood thing.
It was one of those days when the only languages my 18-month-old twins seemed to know was Fusseese and Whinelish. The strain of being home with them all-day-every-day was about to result in a Jen-shaped hole straight through the front door. And I seriously considered the possibility that there might be some kind of conspiracy in place that was designed to trick women into reproducing. Because, I reasoned, surely if I have been made aware of how hard motherhood was going to be, I would have gotten myself sterilized years ago.
And while The Crazy inside me eventually cleared a bit (after a three-hour nap and a glorious hike through the woods), I still think part of my theory is true. The part about not knowing how hard being a mom was actually going to be because no one really told me.
There are days when I feel completely alone in my struggle with being a mom. Why is that? Is something broken in my mom heart? Do I not love my kids as much as other moms? I wonder sometimes when I read sugary-sweet descriptions of motherhood in books and blog posts. When moms recount for me the swell of unconditional love they felt the moment their child was placed in their arms and I just can't relate.
In all honestly, it took me a number of months to experience feelings of love towards my twins after they were born. It was just so incredibly hard to be a mom and no one had even mentioned to me that I might not feel the warm fuzzies and indescribable joy often associated with becoming a mother. What I did feel was indescribable exhaustion and inadequacy, and frankly I was shocked and frightened by the lack of affection I felt for my babies. I'd never had someone tell me that in those early months, those feelings were okay and - for some women - even normal.
I don't hate my kids - truly. I love their smiles and laughter, their emerging personalities and sense of humor. I love seeing the sparkle in their eyes when they understand something for the first time. I enjoy playing with them and helping them discover knew things. But most of the time, I can't relate to the poetic sentimentality that many moms use to describe motherhood. And when I really think about it (calmly, minus The Crazy), I don't think I'm broken or alone. I just think we moms don't share our struggles with the kind of transparency that communicates the deep doubts and difficulties of being a mom. We hear about the squooshy, mushy love (which is important to share certainly - I'm not saying we should constantly complain about our kids - there is a whole lot to love about them!). We'll share a crazy, funny story about the things our kids do or say, or that time they threw up all over the car on the way to a new friend's house. But rarely do we talk with each other about the really hard stuff.
Hard stuff like the loneliness of being home alone with children all day, or the guilt of not being able to be at home with them. The frustration over discipline, the feeling of wanting to run away, the strain of daily putting yourself aside for the benefit of someone else. And the doubts and pressures that come with the responsibility of raising a little human. Whether it's because of pride, lack of vulnerability, fear of judgment, or what-have-you, we don't talk much about the hard stuff and we end up feeling alone. And there is very little that is as debilitating as feeling alone. We suffer as a result and our children do too. All because we can't (or won't) share with honesty the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly of being a mom.
I'm not asking that women bemoan their role as mothers - it is a privilege and a gift to invest in and mold these little people that God has placed into our care. I'm simply asking that we be a little more honest with each other and ourselves about the struggle. Not with complaining or bitterness, but in a way that results in us encouraging one another. Letting other women know that, yeah motherhood is incredibly difficult at times, but you are not alone in those feeling. Let's not allow pride or fear of judgement keep us from being honest with each other. Let's allow transparency in so that loneliness and guilt fade, and (hopefully) joy and encouragement can start to take their place. This will make us better moms, not pretending we have it all together while we waste away inside. Motherhood is a great gift, but it can quickly become a burden if we feel we are alone in the struggle.
Because sometimes motherhood feels like this:
And other times if feels more like this: