If you ask most moms to tell you what it's like to be a mom, they'll probably limit their response to just, you know, the good parts. It’s natural to want to put your best foot forward, and as parents the last thing we want is to be judged or shamed. So we spend time trying to appear perfect, curating the best photos and applying the best filters to our lives. And we never, ever speak out truths. But there are parenting secrets moms are afraid to say out loud. Secrets we should, honestly, feel comfortable sharing with the rest of the world.
Because we don't talk honestly about motherhood, we're constantly second-guessing ourselves and our experiences. We don't want anyone to know we're not actively loving every moment of motherhood; we don't want people to know our choices are different than theirs and, as a result, might be deemed "wrong"; and we don't want to acknowledge that, yes, sometimes we have horrible parenting days that make us question why we decided to become moms in the first place. In other words, we don't want to be considered "bad moms."
The real secret that we all should be screaming from the rooftops is that motherhood is anything but perfect, and it's impossible to enjoy every second of it. We yell, we cry, and we put on a smile when we feel like screaming. We hide in the bathroom pretending to poop so we can have 10 minutes of peace. We supplement with formula, or don't even try to breastfeed, and we don't always buy organic. We sleep train, co-sleep, and drive the baby around the block at bedtime if it's necessary.
There are a million unspoken truths about motherhood; secrets us moms are carrying around with use very single day. Thankfully, these moms are willing to share them with us now:
"Pregnancy ruined my body, and having kids ruined my sex life."
"Sometimes when my mind wonders, I will envision horrible scenarios of my child being in the hospital or getting a call that he has died. I don’t know why my brain thinks of these things and every time I cry. I’d never say this to anyone because I’m afraid they might think I’m insane."
"My kids are hooked on melatonin. I don't know how to get them to bed at a reasonable hour without it."
"I am pretty unhappy in my marriage, but I don't think I could do it alone. If I left my husband I would have to go back to work, and I don't want to. So I stay, and I feel so guilty about it."
"While I wouldn't do it, I totally understand why someone would be frustrated enough to shake their baby or want to hit their kid."
"I have to smoke pot in my closet before I have any contact with my children. They are pretty much always turned up to 11 and I just can't handle it in the morning."
"I once gave my eldest half of a muscle relaxer because she would not sleep. At the time she was 9 or so, and I've debated doing it again on more than one occasion. I only did the once, though."
"I’m not above bribery. I get my kids to bed without complaint by 8 p.m. by bribing them. First one in their pajamas gets a fun sized Twix. First one with their teeth brushed (to mommy's satisfaction) gets a Twix at breakfast. If any of them do both of those things, read a book and have their head on their pillow by 8, they get a Twix at breakfast. It’s amazing what a tiny Twix can accomplish."
"I think that many parents are afraid to admit that they’ve had moments where they regretted becoming a parent. Those moments are fleeting for some and met with extreme guilt, but I think it’s normal to wonder what life would have been like without children or to temporarily regret the obligations you now have. That doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids or don’t want them, but I don’t know anyone who is willing to say it out loud out of fear of being judged. It can be healthy to explore those feelings so we can figure out how to navigate parenting in healthier ways or how to be honest about our stress."
"It's OK if you think your kid is an asshole."
"Cannabis helps me to be a more patient, calm, and fun mother."
"I wish I was single and childless at least once a day. Parenting is hard, and I feel like I've completely lost sight of who I am."
"I got so upset I called my daughter a bitch once. She was throwing a tantrum and punched me in the face. I will never stop regretting that moment. I worry that she won't forget."
"Even though you love all your children with all your heart, you might enjoy the company of one of them more than the others. Favorites are a thing."
"Parenting a neuro-divergent kid makes me suicidal sometimes. I love them more than life, but it's impossibly hard."
"Parenthood is full of judgement, so you have to decide for yourself how you want to live. Your choices are completely valid, and if you honestly shared with other parents you will find that they sometimes let the kids go four days without a bath, eat popsicles for dinner, let the baby cry in their crib, shut the bathroom door in their toddler's face so they can be alone for a minute, and 1,000 other things. We're all just trying to survive and not mess the little humans up too much."
If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.