Motherhood

Shortly after the birth of my second child, a friend politely inquired “So, how are you finding Motherhood?”.  Stuck in a fog of sleep deprivation and a toddler hell bent on assassinating his new baby sister, I found it incredibly difficult to answer.

I told her I thought it was “hard work yet worth it all in the end” but what I really felt like saying was “It’s actually a little bit crap and if I knew it was this hard I’d probably be sipping margaritas by a pool in Thailand right now”.

This is the part where I tell you how grateful I am for my children and how truly blessed I am.   If you know me well you would already know this to be true – I adore them and lavish them with love and I really do appreciate how lucky I am.  I’ve recovered from the time my son threw a plastic basket at the baby capsule while I was driving, tried the strangulation method via the bassinette straps and placed an Elmo bathmat over her face.

My problems arise with talk that surrounds this supposed new trend of complaining about motherhood like it is some sort of competition.  My experience has been that it’s still unacceptable to front up to how difficult you might be finding it.  And it often begins before the baby is even born.

While spending an evening at a hair salon, the hairdresser asked me if I was excited to be pregnant.  I told her I was and I left it there but this was my first child and I was also incredibly frightened – by god was I frightened – I wasn’t entirely sure if I was up to the challenge or not.  Perhaps sensing my apprehension she decided to say “You’re not really into this are you?”  Well it’s a little bit too late if I wasn’t!  Why do we feel the need to shut down a woman any time she doesn’t slip nicely into our idea of the “norm”?

Given that Post Natal Depression affects up to 15% of childbearing women in this country it is not always as simple as “deciding” to like something either.  Many people spend years in cognitive behavioural therapy just to change a mindset.  Should we not then encourage Mothers to speak honestly, however uncomfortable that might make us?

I love hearing people speak glowingly of parenthood and I’ve made it a mission to only speak positive words to parents on the cusp of new parenthood “thou shalt not divulge thy horror stories of birth” is my new mantra – but I don’t begrudge anyone else’s feelings on motherhood.

If motherhood is defined as “the state of being a mother” then it’s probably best to avoid asking this question to the mum of a newborn who doesn’t like sleep.  But if motherhood means “the relationship between an offspring and mother” well then I think I’m doing just fine.

Have you always felt that you could be completely honest about your role as a mother?

Comments

  1. Catherine RodieBlagg says

    I really relate to this. There were times after Cerys was born that I was utterly miserable. Grace was only 19 months old and it was exhausting trying to juggle the needs of a newborn with her excessive energy. But I’d find myself saying ‘its great!’ when people asked how it was going.
    When I blog about the latest challenge I’m facing a part of me is always a little bit worried people will judge.. but then the comments come and I realise that I’m not alone. Motherhood is amazing and rewarding, but its also pretty tough.
    The photos are beautiful x

  2. Michaela C Fivefrogsblog says

    You rock. I live being the mother of my son. But motherhood? It sucks. It isn’t what I expected, because I have a child with different needs. Thank you for this post xxxx

  3. Lily Mae Martin says

    Beautiful, and so true.
    This is what I am always coming up against with my blog. I’ve been diagnosed and hospitalized with depression and people still tell me off, tell me that I am taking things for granted. I didn’t choose to struggle and people telling me that it is wrong for me to express myself are, in fact, wrong!

    Motherhood is complex and I think it’s about time we started talking about it true-fully.

  4. says

    argh horror birth stories!! When I was pregnant with my first, one of hubbys cousins came over and proceeded to tell me about her daughters horror birth, I got up and hid in the hallway until she was done.

  5. TwitchyCorner says

    No it’s not easy to be honest about motherhood. Saying it’s hard ideally would invite other confessions but is also likely to backfire. My experience is similar to Michaela’s. No one dreams of anything but regular, age appropriately developed and independent children. Despite still counting my blessings I don’t always feel like rising to the job- I often feel like just running away from it! But you can’t openly say that- because it’s not acceptable to. :/

  6. says

    Nothing changes. My first baby, like all first babies, was a rude shock. But I adjusted to motherhood, as you do, and hid my mild PND from everyone, pasting on a fake smile and just battling through the first six months. Number 2 baby was a nightmare: feeding every two hours and taking an hour to feed – I lived my life in one-hour bursts. He never slept during the day and cried constantly. My MIL came to visit and asked me if he was a “good baby”? I replied that he was a bloody horrible baby and she was outraged that I could say such a thing. Hmmph. If you don’t want the truth, don’t ask….

    I will NEVER be dismissive of a new mum’s complaints; even though my youngest is 16 now, I vividly remember how difficult it was.

  7. Babanatalya says

    Thanks for sharing x I could have written this myself. A friend of mine put it eloquently when she said ‘ I love my baby, I just dont always love being a parent’. Bloody oath we should talk about it. Why is this taboo? Ditto depression? ( it seems to be ok to alk about depression these days, but after the fact). I wouldnt talk about this in my mothers group, as supportive and great as that is…I tend to present a sanitised version of whats going on. Im scared of being swallowed up completely by the mountain of menial tasks, repeat daily. When its sometimes impossible to just get to the supermarket, its a feeling of being overwhelmed, too dependabt on others to help do those things you once so took for granted. No doubt, this is the hardest thing Ive ever done.

  8. says

    Just beautiful photos, Carli.

    I was expecting it to be so terrible that I was actually shocked at how easy the newborn stage was. Not saying it was easy, just tht I was prepared for it to be truly terrible so when it was not tht bad, it felt so easy!

    I remember having a chat in a supermarket with someone and having to lie and say how hellish it was because I felt it would have crushed her if I had said otherwise. She was really struggling, this lovely woman that I’d never met before or after.

    • says

      Oh I would have done the same thing – I think it’s so great that you found it easy but loved that you didn’t crush her spirit. I do know of people that kept quiet in mother’s groups because their babies slept through the night early on – I sang that stuff from the rooftops with my second because I knew it wouldn’t last and it didn’t!!

  9. Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo says

    I found having a second was the hardest. My first was somewhat easy – and heck, I was still a baby myself – but when the second one came along WHOA! I knew I was alive.

    And I can honestly say those first few months were the hardest I have ever had as a mother and a huge reason why I went back to work full time when she was 3 months old and let my husband be house hubby for a while.

  10. Deborah Keele says

    Great post. I’m pregnant with my second and am starting to feel mightily scared about looking after two. But I have to remember how much I love my little girl and I will love this one just as much and I have to get over the fact that being a mother is not so wonderful. Sometimes, I think we do what is necessary and sacrifice so much of oursleves out of that ridiculously deep love.

    • says

      For me I felt the fear of looking after two was probably worse than the reality – I’ve started to emerge from the fog now and it’s always easier to appreciate the good moments once that happens too :) Good luck x

  11. Renee | About a Bugg says

    Great post Carli and thank you for your honesty.
    I try not to buy into these motherhood debates. How can I? I play on a different field and the rules are all different. My contributions are hard for others to understand and I find that by being honest, it just freaks people out. So I give platitudes and reassurance and generally leave it at that.

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