Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Confessions of motherhood

There used to be a time, not so long ago, when you couldn't really talk about how hard it is to be a parent. Motherhood, especially, was cloaked in fantasy and illusions and assumptions and judgments. All you heard were words like "rewarding" and "wonderful" and "miraculous."

Fortunately, that is no longer the case. Women are speaking out--through blogs, books, articles, even musicals--about how hard it actually is. We know the truth: motherhood's not glamorous. And despite what some women wanna make you believe, it's not all glorious and totally fulfilling. We are finally being honest with each other about those days when you want to run away--the days when the kids are fighting and the laundry's piling and the bills are late and the baby refuses to sleep and everything is going wrong.

But what about the other days?

What about the ones when everything is relatively calm (we all know I'm using this word loosely) and we still feel like maybe, just maybe, we could run away anyway?

I've come to realize that I hate about 50% of parenting.
Even on easy days.
Cause here's the thing: there are no easy days.

Parenting is tedious. Parenting is exhausting. Parenting is stressful.

I don't enjoy giving my wiggly, whiny, tub-hating toddler a bath.
I don't enjoy convincing my strong-willed, opinionated 5-year-old to share his "special toy" with his brother.
I don't enjoy trying to figure out how to make semi-healthy school lunches night after night.
I don't enjoy emptying and cleaning said lunchboxes night after night.
I just don't like the every day monotony of parenting two little kids.

So this is where I interrupt this regularly scheduling ranting to pop in the usual cliched disclaimer: I love my kids. I love their wet kisses and their squeaky voices and the way they smell like saliva and Cheerios and boy sweat all mixed together. But I don't like parenting.

So the other night, when I was scrubbing my kid's hair in the tub and he was wailing that the tear-free shampoo that was not even in his eye was making his "eye hurt! eye hurt!" I was just like: "Man, I hate this." And then I was like: "Oh, man. That can't be good." I mean, it was a typical night. No real drama, no major parenting problems to tackle, just a regular day. And yet, there I was: little patience, exhausted, annoyed, and resentful.

And guilty.

Really, really guilty.

Because, c'mon, what kind of mom am I if I want to run away on the "normal" days?

Then, of course, I make myself feel worse by telling myself that I'll be sorry one day...that I should be enjoying them more...that one day I will miss the days of tear-free shampoo and Scooby-Doo lunchboxes.

And then I feel worse.

Cause now I'm not only beating myself up for hating this, but I'm stressing myself out because I'm hating this and then I'm wishing I could just be responsible for washing only my own hair and then I'm looking at this fat little face and he's stopped crying and I'm feeling guilty-er cause really, shouldn't a mother enjoy washing her little angel's strawberry blond curls and what the hell is wrong with me, anyway?

We are finally at a point where moms are being honest. We're admitting that no, sorry, but the stretch marks probably won't ever go away after you have the baby, and hell, yes, the labor hurts like crazy, and no, having a newborn around really wasn't what I thought it would be, and no, being a mother isn't enough for me... So I thought that maybe it'd be okay if I could just admit that, even on the pretty good days, sometimes I struggle.


  1. And the guilt is what makes parenting so non-enjoyable sometimes. Because it just piles on, even if we are in an age of admitting our struggles. It's still in our minds that we should be the perfect mother for our children.

  2. Amen! You couldn't have said it better! I often feel soooo guilty about the things I don't enjoy about parenting and then even worse because I'm a single mom - and the only "parenting" my kid gets each day. I sometimes think that I wasn't "blessed" with the parenting gene (on those really rough days!). But, like you, I love my son more than anyone in the world and the million and a half things about him that make him so sweet and special and MY baby!! Great post!!

  3. Hello. I really applaud your honesty as no matter how many monthers nod in agreement to this there will still be some who don't relate. I want to be like a fairy godmother who waves a wand and does two things. Firstly, take away your guilt; motherhood is all wrapped up with guilt because of our society of 'perfection' so anything less = failure and failure = guilt. Secondly, I felt JUST LIKE YOU when my kids were babies/toddlers. Now they are 9 and 5, so OK the 5 year old can still be extremely trying, but having the older one as an example makes all the difference. I no longer have those wretched bath times - they manage showers on their own and the eldest washes the youngest's hair. It does get better I can't stress this enough. I realise that motherhood is not ONLY about the struggles and monotony of looking after pre-school children, that is just one part and it sooooo passes for something else. Of course I am sure people will read this and think 'wait til she hits the teenage years, she'll be wishing for babyhood again!' and maybe so. But it's a different kind of exhaustion - more mentally challenging than physically. It's a marathon not a sprint. Anyway - epic comment but what your wrote really took me back a few years and I have to say, it's done and I don't wanna repeat that time; now is a million times better. Lou x

  4. Sometimes, it is TOO much. The monotomy of the same tedious chores that must be completed. The constant refusals to complete any request. The laundry. The groceries. Dinner. Work. Bills.

    Too much. And then guilt to boot.

    On some days, my own physical exhaustion plays a major role in how I handle stuff. It also helps to know you are not alone.

    Hang in there, girl!

  5. That what I like about you, Liz. You are honest. Being a mom IS great. Being a parent? Not so much.

  6. At *least* 50% of parenting sucks. I love my kids but I hate the act of parenting them. It's tedious, it never ends, it's often boring, you feel used and unappreciated...and so on.

    Thank God, at least, there are people out there who are honest about it.

  7. You are NOT alone and it takes a strong mother to speak the truth. Most mothers can't handle the truth. Thanks for sharing the REALITY of motherhood!

  8. I stopped washing my son's hair with soap because he carried on so much and it was so stressful. Luckily, we keep his hair super short and a rinse with water holds up well and it only gets washed on Saturday when he can lay on the counter. It works out to be a happy time. - Don't tell my Mother-in-Law! :-)

  9. The fact that you alone are responsible for the welfare and well-being of this little person or persons weighs so heavily sometimes. My daughter is a gorgeous, funny delight, but high-maintenance and even when I'm not dreaming of escape, I sometimes I wish she had a pause button or at least a volume control...

  10. Hey, first time to your blog and what a post to land on! I can relate to every little thing you wrote. All except the part about having multiple heads to wash, etc.. I have just the one daughter at home. We lost our first child (she was a baby). You think that doesn't make my guilt absolutely smash through the top of the glass ceiling?! Hmmm, it really does. Because I have this horrible "I should be thankful for all this, life is so precious" lathered on top in great heapfuls. So as well as being a guilt-ridden perfectionist in the first place, I slay myself with some ideal that I should be so grateful and capable all the time. Like the rest of the mums out there, of course I"m not.

    Phew! Thanks for the chance to purge. Needed that ;)

  11. Thank you. The guilt, the tediousness, the just sucks the wind from the sails.
    I love my kids. I don't love the muck that surrounds raising them.

  12. Never underestimate the hard work that being a parent is. I am through the woods now but boy, it gets hard in those trenches.

    Take pride in knowing that you can communicate love to those little rascals when they deserve it the least, just because you are a mum.

    It's a tough job, there is no job description and the hours are shocking - but man the rewards are great. You can build a lifelong relationship of love and trust with these super little beings. No one else in the world is their mum and the best thing you can do for your kiddliewinks is to tell yourself that you are doing an okay job, love yourself and love them.


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