I’ve really struggled with writing this post. On one hand, I want to be honest with those of you reading. I want you to know that you aren’t alone. I want you to know that it’s ok to talk about the hard things and that it’s normal to feel like a bad mom. But on the other hand, I don’t want people to think I’m a monster. I don’t want my kids to read this one day and ever think that I didn’t love them. I don’t want to come across as harsh, unloving, or anything of that nature. So, despite the title of this post, I want to address this topic delicately.
Before I had my first son, we were so excited to start a family. We got pregnant the month after we started trying. We had the sweetest times telling our closest friends and family. Our first ultrasound was like living a dream — I was actually a mom. I had dreamt about this moment for as long as I could remember. The second ultrasound was even better. I got to hear my baby’s heartbeat. Up until that moment, it was the happiest day of my life. Then came the next appointment. In a slur of nightmare memories, the memory that sticks out the most was my OB telling me that there was no heartbeat. The weeks and months following were full of tears, pain, and dozens of negative pregnancy tests. All I wanted was to be a mom, to hold and love my baby. It was the hardest year of my life. But then, God blessed us with our rainbow baby. My pregnancy with my son was a dream. It was everything I could have hoped for. Delivery was amazing, and the entire time we were at the hospital, I felt like I was on cloud nine.
All this to say that my kids were very much an answer to prayer.
They have been our biggest blessing. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t acknowledge them for the gift that they are. It isn’t lost on me that I am living my dream being a stay-at-home mom…and each night I thank God for it.
But, I want every mom to understand that you can feel more than just rainbows and butterflies in motherhood…and that is ok!
Please don’t mistake this post for the mom trend that is to complain about your children, rant about how awful motherhood is, and glorify the “drink to cope with my awful kids” mentality. In my opinion, this fad is one of the most detrimental things to motherhood today, so please, don’t mistake this post for that.
What I want moms to know is that it’s ok to look at the human that you gave life to and filled with love, and also not enjoy being around them. I remember a couple of weeks ago, I had one of those days. My two toddlers weren’t listening to anything I was saying. They were impulsively disobeying, and were being loud and disrespectful — they were being typical toddlers. I had to leave the dinner table (twice) to have a moment to sob alone from sheer frustration. That night, after I put them to bed, I had a meltdown. I cried and cried to my husband. I told him “Maybe I’m not cut out to be a mom!” which, now that I’ve had time to calm down and process the events of the day, I know is completely untrue. I felt sad for losing my temper, I felt anger towards my kids for not behaving, and I felt an overwhelming guilt because, honestly, in that moment, I didn’t like my kids. I loved them beyond words, but I didn’t enjoy being with them. I didn’t like their actions. I later got on the Chattanooga Moms Contributor team page and vented. Several of the moms comforted me, letting me know I wasn’t alone and that they had been there too.
I never knew there would be moments like this. In ignorance (and probably naiveté), I assumed I would always feel overwhelming joy and happiness with my children. But it’s not that way and that doesn’t make me or you a bad mom. I think moms need to be more honest and open with their struggles, not to see who takes the golden metal of struggle, but to comfort and encourage each other. Let moms know that yeah, sometimes motherhood is hard and not fun. But it’s worth it and it gets better. It’s not always a struggle. You’re an amazing mom. You were chosen to be your child’s mom. You are capable of overcoming hard days with your kids. You are more than your bad days as a mom.
While my kids are still toddlers and I don’t have it figured out, I do want to share four things I have started doing for moments and days like these:
1. Cuddle your kids, no matter their age. Wait until they’re asleep if you have to; climb right up beside them, cuddle them and look at their precious faces. Remind yourself that they are humans just trying to figure it out. They mess up just like us.
2. Keep a stockpile of pictures from your favorite memories with your kids. That night, I scrolled through allllll of the pictures on my phone. Just looking at all of our happiest times made this one moment seem much less of a big deal than I had made it out to be in my mind.
3. Wash their feet or hands. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I read it in an article once, so I know it’s true. Many churches do this (not just for children) as a symbol of humility and love, and the same is true in this situation. Take a moment to prioritize your child above yourself. As you’re washing their little fingers and toes remember how small they once were. How they’ve grown and matured. All of the crafts those hands have made with you. All of the places those feet have gone with you.
4. Go to mommy’s calm down corner, which is a house favorite. The past year, we’ve been working with my son to help him with his big emotions, which he gets from me. We’ve had to learn strategies to help him with his feelings that tend to be a bit more overwhelming for him than most of his peers. One thing we’ve worked on is a calm down corner. This is a place where he can go to breathe, sit quietly, read a book, play with a fidget toy, draw a picture and take a moment to calm himself before making a bad choice. After several months of doing this, he asked me if I had a similar space. I was both impressed by his intuition and a little embarrassed. Since we believe in leading by our actions, not our words, we made me a mommy calm down corner. Times like that night, where I’m feeling frustrated to the point of saying something I’ll regret to my kids, I take a moment in the calm down corner. Not only does it help me, but my son can see the example living out in real time.
Moms, I want to leave you with this: while we don’t ever want to have these feelings, it’s inevitable. I don’t want to encourage you to be complacent with these feelings of frustration or unhappiness, but I want you to know that it’s normal. Know that you’re doing an amazing job and these feelings won’t last forever. Find a mama mentor, try out some of my strategies, and seek additional help if these feelings don’t go away — there’s no shame in that either!