It was exactly what I needed to hear in the moment. It had been a rough morning and I was questioning myself and my capabilities as a mom, wondering what was wrong with me because I didn’t feel the motherhood bliss I was supposed to be feeling. To be fair, there’s a whole spectrum when it comes to motherhood and feelings, and we all land somewhere along the continuum at different points in time, but sometimes, at least for me, it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one struggling.
And I was struggling.
Sitting at my desk at work, feeling burnt out and exhausted, and so guilty because, although I love my daughter with all my heart, I so miss my “me time”. I miss being alone and not having anyone to answer to. I miss getting in the car without having to carry a heavy car seat, and a diaper bag, and an extra blanket, and my pumping bag, and a stroller. I miss vegging out on the couch (more than I care to admit). My days are no longer about me, and I realize just how selfish that sounds, but I miss it nonetheless.
So, as I sat at my desk, feeling grateful and also guilty to be at work, I put on one of my favorite motherhood podcasts, “Coffee and Crumbs“, hoping to hear some encouragement and host, Ashlee Gadd, said something that hit the nail on the head for me.
She said, tearfully and shamefully, “sometimes I think I’m not enjoying it as much as everyone else.“
I hit the pause button. I went back 15 seconds and listened to her say it again.
That was exactly it. The comparison. The comparison can absolutely kill you. That’s true for most areas in life, but I’m finding it’s especially true in motherhood. I am guilty of comparing myself to everyone else and worrying that I am not enjoying being a mom as much as I “should”. “Should-ing” is another thing that can seriously mess you up.
I was so grateful to Ashlee for admitting that thought. She verbalized what I wasn’t aware I was feeling. But that was it…I was afraid I was not enjoying it as much as everyone else. All the other moms who love motherhood.
I find it really difficult, especially lately and my daughter is a joy, she really is, but I still find it difficult. For some reason, I thought I was the only one. I’m not sure why I came to that conclusion.
Maybe I’m not enjoying it as much as everyone else.
The guilt that comes with that thought. The shame. The other thoughts that follow…
Am I bad mother? Do I not love my child enough? Am I weak? What’s wrong with me?
And the pressure to enjoy every single moment because you know, they won’t be little for very long, which is so true but also so stressful to think about. I don’t want to miss it but at the same time I want my independence back…Does that make me a bad mom? A bad person?
The spiral happens. I go down these dark roads in my mind when, all along, I’m not the only one to worry if I’m enjoying it enough.
Other people, other moms feel it it too. Motherhood is hard. It stretches you and challenges you in ways you were completely unprepared for. It’s boring sometimes. It’s frustrating when your time is not your own anymore. It’s physically strenuous. I don’t know about you, but before I had kids I didn’t go around carrying a 22 pound weight all the time.
It. Is. Hard.
Then, she’ll crawl over to me, because that’s the stage we’re in right now, and she’ll grab my leg and pull herself up and she’ll reach her free hand up towards me and she’ll look at me with her perfect blue eyes and smile at me with her 8 front teeth, which all came in at once, and I’ll reach down and I’ll scoop all 22 pounds of her up, even though my arms are tired and my shoulder aches, and I’ll bring her soft little cheek up to my lips and I’ll kiss her and breathe in her sweet, baby smell and I’ll think how lucky I am to have this little girl in my life, this absolute ray of sunshine.
I’m reminded I don’t have to love every moment.
But I do love some, and man, I do love her. I want to keep her this small forever and I also want her to be more independent and I want my time back and I want to be with her all the time and I adore being her mom and I hate some aspects of motherhood and I love the sound of her laughter and I feel stir crazy in the house playing with the same toys over and over and I love reading her books from my own childhood and I am covered in spit up sometimes and we are all sick for the fifth time this year and I cheer and feel pride like never before when she learns to roll over or crawl or says “mama” for the first time and I’m exhausted at the end of the day…
And all of this is ok. And none of that makes me a bad mom.
And I am not the only one to feel or think these things.