When other moms talk about motherhood with stars in their eyes, I often feel left out. Maybe it's just me, but I think being a mom is more than just sharing a grandiose proclamation of unconditional love. I'm grateful I get the chance to be a parent, don't get me wrong, but being a parent is also draining. And frustrating. And taxing. And even annoying. So I think people need to stop romanticizing motherhood, because pretending it's all rainbows and butterflies only makes all of us tired, overworked, undervalued moms feel like perpetual failures.
Being a mother to my two beautiful kids is an incredible honor, and, thankfully, at almost 7- and 12-years-old my kids are fully aware of when I've hit my limit. And since I'm a work-from-home mom who juggles everything from preparing a week's worth of meals to taking care of bills and pets and kids home for summer break, I can hit my limit pretty quickly. I also suffer from anxiety, depression, and obsession compulsive disorder, and have my entire life, so the typical life responsibilities of a mother can also compound my frustration.
In other words, I'm aware that being a "Pinterest-perfect mom" is damn-near impossible, but that doesn't mean I didn't try my hardest to become one when I first became a mother. I wanted to fulfill the roll of mom as I had seen it on television and in movies: always happy, willing to sacrifice everything and anything for her kids, without leaving a single thing for herself or finding a source of worth outside of her family. That's sustainable, right?
Turns out, it's not. And that's the problem with romanticizing motherhood: it unfairly sets mothers up to fail, and in a way that makes them feel as if someone is innately wrong with them. So with that in mind, and because moms deserve better, here are just a few more reasons why we need to leave the rainbows and butterflies outside of the mom life:
Because It's Not Realistic
If you want to paint a realistic picture of motherhood, tell someone it won't always be easy. Say, out loud, that there will be really hard days that will make you feel like you're incapable. Admit that there will be days when your kids will scream that they hate you. They won't eat the food you've made or they'll complain about their very privileged lives just because, well, they can.
If you pretend it's all sunshine and roses all the time, you'll never allow mothers the right to have a bad day without assuming they're the Worst Mom on the Planet™. Be real.
Because It Devalues All The Work Moms Do
If you're doing motherhood right, you're working your you-know-what off. My kids aren't going to raise themselves, so of course I'm going to be exhausted and tested and annoyed and pushed to my limits.
That's why I don't want to hear that I'm supposed to love "every single second" of motherhood, because every single second isn't enjoyable. And that's OK.
Because It's Bad For A Mom's Mental Health
I had severe postpartum depression after I had my daughter, and it took me a year to climb out of it. And because mental health stigma is a thing, especially when you're a new mom who is supposed to be in love with all things baby, I felt like something was terribly wrong with me. I spent time and energy trying to keep up appearances and appear to be the mom who loves her new life, instead of reaching out for the help I needed, wanted, and deserved.
Romanticizing motherhood makes it so easy to shame moms who suffer from postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and any other mental health disorder. We need help, not an unrealistic standard that makes us feel guilty.
Because It Ostracizes Too Many Moms
To be honest, I'm afraid to join a mom's group or go to playdates with moms I have just met. I'm insecure enough as it is, so I really don't want to open myself up to judgment from a mom who buys into the whole "perfect motherhood" thing. I'm OK with wearing a stained t-shirt when I go to the store. I'm OK with walking away from a tantrum-throwing child in the cereal aisle. And I'm definitely OK with being honest about motherhood and how much it can, honestly, suck. It's just hard to find like-minded people, because saying anything negative about motherhood is, more often than not, chastised.
Because It Makes It Harder To Ask For Help
If I'm supposed to love every single aspect of motherhood, you better believe I'm not asking for help when I need it. When we set up motherhood as this perfect, always happy experience, we make it so much harder for moms to reach out for support. That's not fair, especially when, in the same breath, we tell moms that it "takes a village to raise a child." If you're not going to make that village accessible, that platitude does nothing for us.
Because It Lets Dads Off The Hook
If moms are supposed to love every aspect of mom life, and they don't need help as a result, then what is a dad's roll, exactly? We, as a society, put all the responsibility on a mom's shoulders and then tell her she absolutely has to love every second of it... essentially letting a dad off the hook and able to skirt his responsibilities as an equal parent. Hard pass.
Because It's A Lie
Motherhood is challenging and sometimes it sucks and there are moments when you'll want to quit. Admitting that doesn't make you a bad mom, though, or take away from all the beautiful aspects of motherhood, too. The good and the bad can, and always does, co-exist: just ask any mom who started a day off beautifully and ended it with a toddler tantrum. It's a raw, real, bittersweet journey that leaves you responsible for other people you love more than words can explain. It's a lot of pressure, and it's hard, but I sure as hell wouldn't trade a single second of it.