While searching an old computer for important work documents, I found some of my writing from early motherhood. Each piece was short, un-edited and so interesting. They were each quick snapshots into my emotions, beliefs and struggles from around six years ago.
Below is something I wrote in 2016, a few months after my first son was born. I would eventually re-work and re-write some of these thoughts as part of my guest post for Pregnant Chicken called “There is No Right Way to Parent.” (The link is in the blog post with the same name.)
It’s definitely not my best writing. There are grammar and flow issues. Still, I wanted to share this original, unedited piece because the words feel so raw and authentic. Having lived through this experience, I know things get better. However, in that moment, in those early months of motherhood, I was really struggling.
Being a mom is hard. I don’t know how many times I have thought that since I had my son but I can tell you, it is a lot. All I ever wanted to be was a mom. Don’t get me wrong. I am not a believer in the traditional “wife must stay home with kids” idea. I had a successful career as an intensive care nurse but still, I always knew that when I would have kids, I would want to “be home” with them. And now I have a kid and it is hard. Being a mom is hard.
My baby is amazing. He is happy and fun. Full of play and smiles. My issue with motherhood is not an issue with my son. I feel like my whole life I was waiting for my dream job and now I have it and I don’t want it anymore. I am a perfectionist and I love to make lists and get things done. Maybe this is why I was an awesome nurse but always feel like I am failing at this mom thing.
People watch me and say I am doing “so good.” But it must be pretty apparent that I am struggling because people are always telling me that I am doing “good.” But I am not doing good. I am doing terrible. We make it through each day- nurse, nap, cry, play, and repeat and repeat and repeat. I often feel like if I have to sing “Jesus loves me” one more time that I might just lose my mind.
My baby is not a good napper. Each nap is a struggle and I worry that the poor guy has spent more time of his short life upset because I am trying to make him nap than actually sleeping or playing. And maybe I am just selfish. I am just clinging to that hour where I can be a person again and so I fight for each nap. I know sleep is important for little guys and “sleep begets sleep.” So I can convince myself my struggle isn’t selfish but for his good. But I only believe this about half the time.
Six years later and so much has changed. I wish I could give my younger self a big hug and tell her that her struggle is real. I would say, “Your feelings as so valid. There is nothing wrong with you for struggling like this. What you are going through is tough. Life can truly feel hopeless and monotonous.”
Then I would want to offer her some hope and a little encouragement but what would I say? Definitely not the classic “enjoy these moments because they’ll be gone before you know it!” I was not enjoying those moments and that would only add to the stress.
Rather I would want her to know these three important things.
1. There is no right way to parent- don’t compare your experience with anyone else. Figure out what works for you and your baby and do that! Don’t add to this intense season by trying to do everything the “right way.”
2. Let go of trying to be perfect- as a mom and as a human. The more you embrace flexibility and nuance the more you are going to start enjoying life. You are good enough just as you are.
3. Life will continue to evolve. There are so many seasons in motherhood. Eventually the hard ones pass as we grow, and our kids grow. They may be replaced by other hard seasons but those will pass too. When those hopeless feelings come, just remember everything is always changing!
Six years later and there are new challenges and struggles but there is a confidence that has grown. When hard things come, I acknowledge that they are hard, try to stay flexible and remind myself that this season is not forever.
I agree with my younger self: being a mom is hard! The struggles of parenthood should not be dismissed. However, I now know by embracing freedom, flexibility and a deep understanding that things will continue to evolve, there is hope and there is joy!
Thanks for reading.