Most people are quick to tell you that being a mom is the hardest job in the world, but it isn't until you become one yourself that you really understand just how hard that job can be. The responsibilities that come with motherhood are stressful, you're operating on little sleep, you're reporting to a tyrannical, illogical boss who's hard to please, and working every hour of every day takes its toll. So, when people say, ""Motherhood is hard" it's the truthiest truth to ever truth, no questions asked.
For me, personally, the hardest part of the job isn't the duties, but the job description itself. A mother is responsible for the emotional, social, physical and spiritual well being of her child. So, it's honestly the responsibility that I find difficult and, more often than not, overwhelming. I realized there were no "days off" from being a mom. I couldn't "check out," I couldn't call in sick, and I couldn't outsource my job (well you can try, if you can afford a team of nannies). Essentially and always, the buck stops with me, and that realization can be terrifying.
I know that not every family is like mine but, in our home and although my husband is awesome and a great dad, the majority of the childcare duties fall to me. I am the de facto parent — the one who organizes classes, appointments, buys clothes, books haircuts and takes on most of the everyday childcare — and it can be exhausting. So, yeah, I'm more than willing to admit that there are times when the overplayed adage "being a mom is the hardest job in the world" really rings true, including the following:
When You're Sick And Still Have To Parent
Thanks to nine months of pregnancy and 2 1/2 years of breastfeeding, where I pretty much abstained from alcohol, I just don't have the stomach for alcohol anymore. However, I also refrain from alcohol because having a hangover and a toddler is the seventh circle of hell.
When you're sick (whether it's a hangover or a horrible cold the parenting gods have "blessed" you with) and you still have to be a parent, it can feel like you're being punished.
When Your Kid Hurts Themselves And You Can't Panic
My pre-kid reaction to blood was to hide my face and yelp. Now that I'm the one in charge, I need to project calm confidence and authority in an emergency. Which means I have to take charge and care for my child, instead of flap my arms around and panic.
The first time my child hurt himself he scraped his face and was bleeding pretty badly. Surprisingly, I remained relatively calm, tended his wounds, and was sympathetic and reassuring. However, once he was fine and back to playing, I hid in the washroom and had a panic-induced ugly cry session. Hey, I kept it together in front of him, and that's all that matters, right?
When Your Stupid Mistakes Don’t Just Affect You Anymore
The first time I realized how many people could be affected by my mistakes, was the third time in my life that I accidentally locked myself out of my house. (I seem to have a problem with this "mistake," which I hope is now out of my system.)
This particular time, I had groceries delivered and was running after the delivery boy to give him a tip, when the door closed behind me, locking me out of the house. My infant son was inside napping and the panic that followed is like nothing I have ever felt before. It was snowing, I had nothing on me, I was barefoot and there was no way back in. I managed to flag down the delivery boy and sat shivering in his truck frantically dialing emergency locksmiths on his cell phone. I was locked out of my home for 20 minutes, which felt like a million years, and my son hadn't stirred from his snooze at all. I, on the other hand, lost years off my life.
When You Have To Parent Solo For The First Time
If your partner gets any sort of maternity or paternity leave when your baby is born, it can be quite exciting getting to know and raise your baby together. However, eventually they (usually) go back to work.
My parents stayed with us for the first few weeks after my son's birth, and when they left I felt quite lonely and a bit overwhelmed.
When You Have To Work After Getting Absolutely No Sleep The Night Before, Thanks To Baby
If you have to (or choose to) return to full time work outside of the house (or really do anything where adult interaction and concentration is required) after a restless night with a baby, it can feel like you are moving underwater.
I had to attend an interview a few months postpartum, and I have no idea what I said. I was seriously so exhausted, I felt like I was in a bubble.
When You Try To Do It All Yourself
I know far too many mothers who refuse the help that's being offered to them. Sometimes it's pride and you want to do it all yourself, and other times it simply feels like no one else can do whet you can do. Of course, the social pressures to be the "perfect mom" weigh heavily on a mom's mind, too. Either way and for whatever reason, trying to "do it all" can leave you completely burnt out.
I found I had to let go of some of my expectations, too. Did it really matter if my husband did things differently than I would? As long as whatever it is, is handled, I say, "No."
When You Experience All The Feels
As if motherhood wasn't hard enough, you also have a bucket full of hormones and conflicting emotions to navigate. It's awful to feel out of control, and dealing with the physical and mental changes that accompany motherhood can leave anyone feeling weepy and angry.
I found I would cry at commercials or Facebook posts and then, almost instantaneously, I would be angry with myself for being so sappy. #Feelings
When You Feel All The Guilt
Perhaps motherhood would be easier if it was just a huge change to your life, a hard job and a ton of emotion. However, on top of what is already demanding, you have to deal with an almost always-present, crippling guilt.
Being a mom certainly seems to come with a lot of self blame and angst. Whether it's internal, or the byproduct of well-meaning (and some not so well-meaning) relatives and friends that question your decisions, there's endless opportunity to feel like you're failing.
In the end, we just have to remember that we're the right mothers for our specific babies, and perfect isn't necessary (or possible). Most mistakes we make as moms don't do much lasting damage and, in fact, can benefit our children. When our little ones' see us get something wrong, only to dust ourselves off and try again, they learn how to persevere, too.