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.