When You Don't Love Motherhood
We were dancing around the kitchen. Jonah had a mixer blade in his hand, singing into it as loud as he could, playing his broom stick guitar, while I rocked out into my whisk and strummed my mop. Taylor Swift was on full blast and we were feeling it. We laughed and danced and ran around in circles for at least three songs and as I stopped to catch my breath, a thought caught me by surprise, "I am actually enjoying this." I laughed because why wouldn't I enjoy acting silly with my five year old, but I couldn't remember the last time that I had genuinely enjoyed being a mom. I stopped for a second to acknowledge the miracle of that moment before I jumped back into my Bad Blood solo.
For so long, I felt lost. The fog of motherhood was thick and I couldn't see more than what was right in front of me. The baby, the messes, the diapers, the tantrums, the crying... All the moms on instagram made it seem like it was so easy, with their perfectly brown apple pie crust, and their white kitchen tiles, and wicker baskets filled with wooden toys, and babies sleeping in bassinets under white crisp blankets and hand knitted hats. I wanted to be like them. I wanted things to come easy to me, but they didn't, and I couldn't understand why. What was I doing wrong? Everything I tried to do to measure up to them just made me feel like even more of a failure.
There were days when I genuinely didn't like being a mom. I couldn't tell anyone that, though, because then I was ungrateful and selfish. I'd get a snide remark here, an eye roll there, a nasty email or thirty, so I stopped saying what I really wanted to say and just said a simpler, funnier, more likeable version of what I was really feeling. It felt like transparency, but underneath my soft mocking of the struggles of motherhood was something much more complicated : I loved my kids, but I hated being a mom.
One baby, two babies, three. Motherhood was an uphill battle and I couldn't find my footing. It was like I was stumbling forward constantly, never able to catch my balance, but never actually falling either. I wanted so badly to either hit rock bottom or stand up straight, because the constant tripping and feeling off balance was maddening. And so I went mad. Depression. Panic attacks. Nightmares. Everything that could go wrong, did. I loved my kids so much and I wanted to be better for them. I wanted to be a better mom, one of those moms who has it all together, but I couldn't figure it out. I couldn't be her.
I want to say she doesn't exist, but I can't know that for sure. Maybe this picture of motherhood that I've had in my head for so many years is living in the flesh somewhere out in Utah (because I feel like all the really cool moms are in Utah) and she has no idea that her perfect life made me hate mine. Maybe she just found her groove a lot sooner than me and the only reason her life is envious is because she loves it so much. Maybe I could love my life exactly the way it is. Maybe I could love myself exactly the way I am. Maybe I am exactly the mother I need to be and all that I am ever going to be is who I am right now and maybe ... that's enough.
I can't say that there's been one single "breakthrough" moment for me, but rather a series of insignificant events that have turned dread into joy. I could write them all down, but I think they'd serve you better summed up with this : I choose to enjoy being a mom. I choose it intentionally and purposefully. It doesn't come natural to me and it's not easy for me, but I choose, every single day, to enjoy motherhood. It's not a complicated idea, but it isn't simplistic, either. I make choices throughout the day that I know will help me lean towards joy and less towards stress and anger. Those choices can be simple or they can be multilayered and affect other people or circumstances, but I own each one of them because I refuse to go back to where I was. I just can't.
This is the part where I encourage you, mom who doesn't like being a mom. Take a deep breath. Let it out. It's ok. You're not broken and we're not going to banish you. You can sit with us. WE GET IT. I'm not going to tell you how to find joy in motherhood (because it's different for you than it is for me), but I will tell you that you can find it. You're not going to hate this forever. You'll find your groove again, girl, I promise. I thought I would never stand again, but here I am. I'm not tripping anymore. I'm not in the fog anymore. I don't wake up with dread anymore. I don't fear my days anymore. I've got two feet on the ground, the sky is clear, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow. You'll get there. I promise you'll get there.