Oftentimes when it comes to mothering we see and hear about all the moments of fleeting love and happiness. Rare is it that we hear about the raw experiences that make us want to give up on everything all together. Erasing the feelings of guilt about struggling as a mother is truly the next step for the parental community. Raising a child is not a piece of cake, so why not talk about the negative experiences. Life really isn’t about constant happiness, but more about the ebbs and flows. You have to go through hard times to get to the easy ones. You have to cry a little if you want to laugh. You have to sacrifice if you want to gain as a parent. I want to talk about the things I wish I had known before coming a mother.
Motherhood looks like being taken directly to your breaking point and right before you break, getting a gasp of air. Your child may run you ragged all day, take the last bite of your meal, make a big mess when you have no energy to clean it and test you until you fold. Then, in the midst of a breakdown, they will come over to you and stare with the most gentle eyes and extend a hug that erases all they’ve done. Motherhood looks like forgiveness and waking up each day, letting it be new. Yesterday never matters as a mother.
There’s the days where you feel like you don’t have enough time, money or effort for your child. The days where you know they need more of your attention, but you just don’t have it to give. Those times when the days melt together and they’ve been entertaining themselves because you’re swallowed by adulting. Noone speaks about the process of spreading yourself really thin in order to touch all bases of your responsibilities. The flip side of those days looks like having a little extra money to spend because you worked a little extra. When you’re riding in the car and you can see your childs’ happy face through the mirror. They’re holding the toy you just bought them but dozing off from a day filled with activity and the time you couldn’t give them the week before. Those are the moments of joy and accomplishment that follow sacrificing times.
The two things that satisfy me the most is seeing my child smiling - enjoying himself and seeing him eat and indulge in good meals. Those are the moments I feel like a good mother. When he shows me he learned something new or says something I’ve never heard him say. My moments of gratitude are usually rooted in his growth in some fashion. Those are the moments you forget about the struggle and catch your balance in the mom game, but this is only temporary! Resilience is something that is shoved into your life when you become a mother. Because, once you have that title - you can’t erase it, its with you forever.
THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE HAVING A CHILD
I wish someone told me to ask for help without feeling guilty. I spent so much of the first year of my sons life trying to do everything on my own. When you first have your baby - everyone wants to see the new baby and help you. But then, that help fades and people get back to the natural schedules of their lives. As a new mother you will feel like people have forgotten about you. You will literally sit there in a mental war, and become so bitter at the loneliness and lack of communication. You feel so vulnerable that you can’t understand why people are not reaching out to help more, but you have to ASK. Having a baby is a big deal, but people forget how big it is until it’s them with the baby. Do not sabotage your experience as a mother but letting your ego or guilt stand in the way of receiving support- just ask.
All of your relationships will change. Your relationship with your partner will change because now life is demanding a different version of the two of you. It’s not just about you and that person anymore, now it’s about the baby too. It’s very complicated to navigate a relationship with a new baby because the challenges within the relationship are still there. Now you have all the same obstacles, but now with a baby on top. I wish someone warned me about the mild resentment you have with your partner for getting a little more rest than you, or for not having to produce milk for the baby. I wish someone had told me things would go back to normal and be patient with all of my relationships.
I wish someone had told me to enjoy eating more. I don’t know what it looks like to eat a meal and not share with my son. I should have appreciated using the bathroom in peace, or taking a shower without hearing phantom cries. Noone told me to appreciate getting in and out of the car freely without dealing with car seats and strollers. One thing I really wish someone had shared, is the struggle of getting out of the house and how hard it is to be on time. The list really does go on and on but these are just the surface struggles. My advice to anyone who wants to start a family is to just enjoy the small things - even when you’re pregnant just enjoy yourself. These are the last moments that it’s all about you.
At the end of the day, being a parent is no joke. In the day and age of social media, there’s such a misconception when it comes to motherhood. While everyone has a different journey and experience, one thing that is universal is that it gets hard. Being a parent gets hard way more often than most people admit. Becoming a mother was a big dream of mine, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Being a mother has made me such a selfless, responsible, fiery machine of a woman. I’ve been shown parts of myself that I didn’t know existed. My respect for women and mothers grew enormously. Now when I see a mother in the grocery store with her two kids, the brief eye contact we share is a quick surge of appreciation. Only in a magical motherhood community do you naturally hold space for someone just because you understand the struggle.
HOW TO COPE DURING HARD TIMES
A mantra I revisit again and again as a mother is “ This Too Shall Pass”. The moments of doubt and frustration are temporary but also endless. It’s so pointless to get overwhelmed every single day about the tiny things because there will always be something new to be upset about. Acceptance is key to facing the struggle as a mother. Accept that you may not be on time, accept that you may not look AS presentable as you wanted to. Accept that you may not reach everything on your to-do list. Accept when you don’t have enough time or money for something. As long as you’re doing the best you can, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Make sure you take time for yourself. Try not to lose sight of who you are underneath being a mother. Do the things that make you happy and bring joy to your life. Carve out time to be a human being and provide yourself with self care. Give yourself opportunities to grow as a person outside of parenting. Understand and live with the concept that life is not over- it is just beginning. Take that drive and determination that manifested through motherhood and use it to fuel something with purpose in your life, because you deserve it.
I hope that we can normalize and embrace the struggle sometime soon. That struggle is the catalyst for so many beautiful things that most can’t see yet. The next time you’re having a hard time as a mother, let this be a reminder that you are not alone.
Chloe’ Flowers is a mother, freelance writer and educator based in Dallas, Texas. You can find her on IG at @discochlo or read her lifestyle blog at www.chloejflowers.com