The truth about motherhood is that no one prepared me for this.
Have you ever actually admitted that, out loud? That you feel lost, unprepared, five years behind where you “should” be in raising your children?
I just did.
I wonder on a daily basis why God/The Universe thought I could handle four kids in seven years, and be able to meet their needs and teach them what they need to know. I am learning as I go, and hoping I get a few things right.
I was not exactly well prepared for motherhood by example. My mom had a completely different life than I do.
She had a full time job, and put my brother and I in daycare, preschool, then Catholic school. I stayed home with my baby, and then had three more children. Later, I began homeschooling the older ones. My mom worked long hours five days a week, but she never had a spouse that traveled 50% of the time like I did. She only had 2 children as opposed to my 4. She never had to struggle to keep up with the house, because no one was in it to mess it up except for two or three hours right before bed every night.
When I was growing up, my mom taught in an elementary school. She went to church or school related meetings most nights during the week, and when she got home, she was grading papers and tests until after I went to bed. I never knew any different, so I didn’t realize I was missing out on a relationship and connection with my mom. I also didn’t realize that I was not learning how to run a house or make meals while children tore up the living room, clamored at my elbows and hung on my legs. I came into motherhood totally unprepared, and have been flying by the seat of my pants ever since.
I didn’t feel comfortable reaching out for help when I was in survival mode for several years. My ex was super-critical of my parenting, housekeeping, and homeschooling, and depended on me to keep the facade of “white picket fence happy little suburban Christian conservative family” up and running. When I tried to be real with others and talk about what life was like with constant sleep deprivation and trying to homeschool with a baby and a toddler, I was essentially told had that I needed to pull myself up by my bootstraps. The women I knew, as well as my ex, would ask why I thought I was so special and deserving of assistance when other families ran smoothly without a hitch. Why couldn’t I do it all by myself? I consistently felt uncool, unworthy, unprepared, clueless, helpless, and hopeless.
One day, I had the opportunity to be a sounding board to a friend who didn’t attend my church or participate in my homeschool group. It turned out that both of us had a child with sensory processing disorder, and often faced judgment from family and friends, as well as strangers, for not being able to “control” our overstimulated children. Realizing we shared a common struggle, I began to open up to her, and she to me. I admitted my fears and failures and shortcomings as a mom. I told her how I felt about the women in my church, and what they had said to me. I was honest about my ex and how he treated me. In this friend, I found acceptance, wisdom, encouragement, and comfort. And I tried to give the same back to her.
She did more for my emotional health, and for my children, than she can possibly imagine. Not long after I began opening up to her, I started to be more authentic with other women in my life. I listened for common threads and invited them to share first. I found bravery and sought connection. And stopped trying to be supermom.
The truth about motherhood is that it’s really, really hard. Especially if you feel like you’re alone.
The truth about motherhood is that none of us really, truly know what we’re doing and we learn as we go. Do not believe the lie that every other mom has it together because they don’t.
The truth about motherhood is that because we’re all struggling. If you find another woman who is willing to be transparent about her struggles with you, it’s worth the risk to be open with her about your fears and questions too.
The truth about motherhood is that knowing my limits and my weaknesses, I can learn to ask for the help I need.
The truth about motherhood is that my kids are different from your kids, and I’m different from you, and our family’s dynamic is our own.
The truth about motherhood is that we all love our kids, and we all want what’s best for them. We need to trust ourselves to know what those things are, to do the best we can, and to resist taking others’ judgment to heart.
What is your truth about motherhood?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from Frelle, in North Carolina. Come visit her at MadeMoreBeautiful.com
Photo credit to @Doug88888. This photo has a creative commons attribute license.
Oh my, yes, this mothering business is exhausting and overwhelming at times, isn’t it?
I sought a lot of answers to my parenting questions from all aspects of knowing about humanity and now feel not so hit-and-miss in my parenting in a general sense. As far as the day to day nitty-gritty of putting it all into practice, I have my ups and downs.
So true that we are unprepared for it all! I really enjoyed your post, Jenna and wow at homeschooling four children on your own!
Thank you for reading and commenting! I’m glad to know that others feel similarly unprepared and can identify with my thoughts here. Also, I never did homeschool all four, just the oldest two while the younger two were both small. But it was still hard!
“The truth about motherhood is that my kids are different from your kids, and I’m different from you, and our family’s dynamic is our own.”
YES YES YES! I love this post and I didn’t feel prepared at all because I am not parenting my children like my mother did or running my house like she did.
My truth about motherhood is that no one has the answers and don’t believe them if they do. NEVER be afraid of asking for help and saying this is too much I need a break. The truth about motherhood is it is irrational to think we are super women. We’re doing our best and our best is hit and miss. But we are trying!
I love your post.
Thank you so much for your kind words, mamab! I’m glad to know what part of my post resonated with you. I’m sorry you felt similarly unprepared but grateful to know you understand me 🙂
Jenna, I’m sending you a HUGE hug!! Thank you for having the courage to write what most people feel but are too afraid to admit!! You are 100% absolutely right about motherhood – no matter our background and circumstances we’re all different … and so are our children! What works with one seldom works with the other. We’re all doing the best we know how, and when we know better we do better.
I think I can give you hope. I had to spend some time in a Psychiatric Hospital for Depression when my kids were still in Primary School, and for the past 9 years or so I’ve been dealing with chronic pain and fatigue caused by Fibromyalgia. My son and daughter are now respectively 20 and 17 years old. We have a great relationship, despite the fact that I’m the furthest thing from a “June Cleaver” you can get! My son is working with his father in the IT field and my daughter will graduate High School next year.
If you’d told me when I was struggling with post-partum depression (compounded by a colicky baby who projectile vomited every. single. feed. for 2 years) that 18 years later he would have grown into this totally healthy, intelligent and generally awesome (although lazy) young man, I probably would have told you that I didn’t believe he’d live long enough to get to pre-school!!
The truth about motherhood is that WE are the EXPERTS when it comes to OUR children! We MUST trust our instincts and do what we know is best for us and our families, despite what anyone else might have to say about it.
Thank you, Simona, and I think your words are so true about how we are the experts on our kids. Im encouraged to know that you are happy about how your children turned out despite the struggles you had as a young mom. I struggled with PPD and anxiety and had horrible sleep deprivation and am not proud of several years of my parenting.. and I already see that I have not damaged my resilient children as much as I thought I did during those dark times. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Im grateful to know you!
Oh wow, this is intense! I so agree with you! I had the police called on me because the lady had never seen a child behave like mine (scream and fight), and so she thought I must have been abusing them. How about minding her own business? I was doing my best at that time. I just had my second baby, was too tired to think and my big girl turned two. I contacted expat organizations, and met wonderful, inspiring fellow moms. I felt at home with them and just couldn’t be greateful enough! I also think moms should help and support each other, not judge.
Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Olga. I have had a similar experience with authorities being called on me for a misunderstanding, as well as having well meaning and not so well meaning onlookers be very vocally judgmental about my parenting. It was devastating and those are difficult memories to recall. I just wanted to tell you I’ve been there too. I’m glad you found community with other expat moms and can encourage others!!
The truth about motherhood is that it doesn’t always go how you envisioned it. We are not the drivers of this bus called life and we must ride the bumps from time to time. Sometimes there’s hurt and sometimes there’s joy. And that’s the reality. Thank you so much for honest and touching post.
Thanks for reading and replying, Carol, and I appreciate your encouragement so much!
AMEN Frelle! I could not agree with you more. Motherhood is a wild roller-coaster and there are ups and downs, but you learn to be able to hold on tight and enjoy the ride as you go! 🙂
Thanks, Maman Aya! I’m so glad you came to read and comment. I always appreciate the validation when something resonates with others in a post!
I LOVED this post Jenna. You captured SO many of my truths about motherhood! But you said it best here:
“The truth about motherhood is that we all love our kids, and we all want what’s best for them. We need to trust ourselves to know what those things are, to do the best we can, and to resist taking others’ judgment to heart.”
Now that is the truth! Thank you 🙂
Thanks, Eva!! It really is the truth. It took me a long time to have confidence in that truth and really believe I was doing my personal best with my specific kids, comparisons be damned. No one else is me, with my experiences and my heart, and no one else’s kids are just like mine, responding to me with their own unique personalities. I do want whats best for my kids and I try really hard to parent the best way I can, and that may look a lot different to bystanders sometimes, but I believe in my parenting. I hope other moms can believe in themselves similarly. Thanks for the encouragement.
Another difference between the kids your mother raised and the ones you are raising is that there is a heck of a lot more info cominng at them be it from TV, the internet, radio school….everything. We are inundated by stimulus.