Up until around three or so years ago, I didn't want to be a parent. The idea of motherhood scared me, I didn't think I was ready to be a mother and I was afraid my toxic childhood would end up affecting any potential children I may or may not have. Then I met my amazing partner, wound up pregnant and realized that not only could I have a baby, I actually wanted to have a baby. Being a mother is wonderful, but there are things no one actually likes about parenting, too. As esomeone who didn't want to be a mom, and who is now so proud and happy and thankful to be a mom, I can safely say that I'm more than capable of unapologetically appreciating both the fantastic parts of parenthood, and the downright sh*tty parts that make me question my sanity (and my inability to take birth control on a regular basis).
Unfortunately, I think so many women are scared to talk about the parts of motherhood that absolutely suck. Personally, I think it's a result of society's messaging; the idea that procreation is what makes a woman "a woman," and that motherhood is (or should be) a defining characteristic of all women. So, what kind of woman would you be if you didn't absolutely love every part of motherhood, or didn't want to ever experience motherhood, right? Well, in my opinion, you're simply a normal one. There isn't a wonderful thing in this world that doesn't come with its fair share of downsides. I loved going to college, but I could have done without the late night study sessions or the ridiculous bill at the beginning of every semester. I love my partner and I'm so glad I have him in my life, but there are times when I just want to be alone and not having someone else to think about when I make decisions sounds pretty nice. The best things in my life are not without their "less-than-enjoyable" sides, and that's life in general, right? The good and the bad are so intricately woven together that you can't have one without the other.
So, yes, I love being a mother and I love parenthood and I'm so glad that I decided to have my son. However, there are certain parts about parenthood that I really and truly don't like, and I have a feeling most parents don't necessarily appreciate the following, either.
The Constant Worry
I don't know a single parent that doesn't worry on a fairly frequent basis. Even when we know we shouldn't worry, we worry. Even when we know there's absolutely no reason to worry, we worry. When you love someone so much it physically pains you, it's difficult not to worry about every little thing for fear they will feel an ounce of pain or heartbreak or disappointment.
Of course, they eventually will. They do pretty early on in life, actually. It's inevitable and it's part of being human and there, my friends, lies the futility of it all: worrying won't change anything, but you can't help but do it anyway. Parenthood is just the best.
The Sleep Deprivation...
Oh, how I miss sleep. While I am out of the "I have a newborn so I'm only sleeping in two hour (or less) increments" phase, I'm still not getting a complete night's sleep. Not usually, anyway.
Sometimes that wonderful, beautiful but infrequent night will roll around and my toddler son will sleep for eight straight, glorious hours. However, that's a rarity that I am not accustomed to enjoying. So, when that happens and my kid doesn't wake up and come into my bed at some ungodly hour in the middle of the night, I start to worry. Again.
...And Constantly Waking Up Early
My lazy weekend mornings when I lounged around (either in bed or on the couch) for endless hours just being an absolute bum of a human, are long gone. Now my kid wakes up every morning at at least 6:00 or 6:30 on the freakin' dot, weekday or not. That means, of course, that I have to get up and actually do things, like make breakfast and read and get him changed and dressed. Ugh. That's a lot of work to do early on a Saturday morning, you guys.
The Unsolicited Advice
I will be the first to admit that when it came to motherhood, I didn't know sh*t. I was more than happy to receive all the help I could manage to acquire, because being a new mom is scary and I wanted to do it "right" and I wanted to be the absolute best parent I could possibly be for my son.
However, the unsolicited advice (especially the advice from relative strangers who tell me "tips" based on ridiculous assumptions that are so far off base it's almost laughable) is usually anything but helpful. If only certain people could learn to save their hard earned knowledge for the moments when people actually ask them for it.
The Pressure. So. Much. Pressure.
I feel a constant, silent, palpable pressure to never, ever, make a mistake. It's exhausting. As a mother, and as a human being who is responsible for the life and well-being of another human being, I constantly feel like I have to do and be my best, to the point that anything short of perfection is unacceptable.
Of course, our society doesn't necessarily help in this area of parenthood. When it comes to parents making mistakes, our culture is unforgiving. At best. One slip-up, especially a public one, and you're a "bad parent" and someone is calling Child Protective Services (CPS) and you're being chastised and attacked relentlessly. Yikes.
Seeing Danger Absolutely Everywhere
I used to ignore power outlets and corners of coffee tables and toy recalls and the plastic my online purchases came covered in. Not anymore, my friends. Danger is everywhere when you have a kid, and you find yourself anxiously searching for it like you're a main character in Final Destination.
The Relentless Guilt
Granted, I have learned to manage my "mom guilt" much more efficiently, now that my son is two and I have pushed passed and/or simply learned to ignore what is "expected" of me as a new mom. However, when I was taking care of a newborn and simultaneously working, very few days didn't end with a side order of guilt.
Even now, I have days when I look back and instantly feel guilty for not spending enough time with my son or not spending enough time at work. Sometimes I'll feel guilty about not being a better friend or a better romantic partner or a better coworker or a better mother. In at least one area of my life, I feel like I'm lacking, probably because society puts so much pressure on mothers (and women, in general) to be absolutely everything to everyone.
The Need To Consistently And Methodically Plan
I miss my carefree, spontaneous days when I could just jump in the car and drive from Seattle to California without a care in the world. I miss not knowing what I was going to do on a Friday or Saturday or even Tuesday night. Sometimes, I really miss not knowing where my night was going to take me, because I didn't have to worry about getting home to someone else or waking up early to take care of someone else.
Then again, there is something to be said for a nice, comfortable routine, a pair of oversized sweats and an endless Netflix queue, so to each their own.
How Expensive Children Are
Dear. Lord. In. Heaven.
I know it's not a surprise that kids cost a pretty penny, but that doesn't mean parents are happy about it.
How Costly Certain Mistakes Can Be
When I was baby-free, the majority of the mistakes I did or didn't make would affect me, and only me. I didn't have to worry about hurting someone else (for the most part) because I was only responsible for myself.
That's not the case. Not anymore.
Now, one potential mistake can affect my son, and even the thought of my son hurting because of something I did or didn't do gives me anxiety.
How Quickly Children Grow Up
This is something parents both love and hate, simultaneously. On the one hand, you want your kid to grow up. I mean, it's the goal, right? You're acutely aware that so many children don't get the ability to grow up and grow old and learn knew things and go out into the world, so you're grateful your kid can and is and you want them to be healthy, happy, capable and kind members of society.
On the other hand, it's sad. It's just, you know, sad. You wax nostalgic on a regular basis about their tiny little hands and feet when they were newborns; how much they needed you when they were toddlers; how much they looked up to you and respected you and trusted you before they realized that you're just as messed up and flawed as everybody else. It's also scary, because the older they get the less you can protect them. It's the parenting paradox we all love to hate, hate to love, and do our best to live with because, well, our hearts have been outside of our bodies since the day our babies were born.
All The Bodily Fluids. So. Many. Bodily. Fluids.
Look, I went to college so I know what it's like to deal with people vomiting and peeing and even pooping in places they, honestly, shouldn't be vomiting and peeing and pooping in. However, my "rambunctious" college experience (and the bodily fluids that came with it) pale in comparison to parenthood.
My life has been nothing but poop and pee and puke for a little more than two years now, and there's no end in sight, my friends.
The Lack Of Support (Like Paid Family Leave)
If you're a parent in the United States, then you know what I'm talking about. We're the only industrialized nation without mandatory paid family leave, and it's the reason why mothers are returning to work way earlier than they should (putting themselves at risk and their children at a potential disadvantage). It's why parents of all genders don't get the support they need to tend to themselves and their children. It's inexcusable, and there isn't a parent in this country that should be OK with this absolute failure.
Reading The Same Book Over And Over And Over And Over And Over And...
And over and over and over and over and over and over...