Society is pretty tough on moms, I'm not going to lie. I mean, sure, we have that one day a year when motherhood is "celebrated," and that's nice. However, the unrealistic standards that culture places on moms are as impossible to meet as they are detrimental and unfair. As a result, there are things every mom is afraid to get real about; Things that highlight the realistic, not-so-pretty, exhausting and downright ugly side of motherhood; Things that mothers are, sadly, judged for admitting or feeling or thinking. I say, enough.
I have learned more as a mother, a woman and a human being, when I have made the conscious decision to open up and talk about motherhood in a real, honest way. Sharing my fears, my failures and my anxieties has allowed me to connect with other mothers, learn from my mistakes and evolve as my child learns and grows and needs new things from me. Sure, I have also opened myself up to criticism and judgment, and I can't pretend that the moments when I was judged for being "real" about motherhood were easy to get through, but even in the middle of all that shame I learned something that made me a better parent. Even if that "lesson" was simply how to not care about what anyone else thinks or says or assumes.
Honestly, motherhood is difficult enough without trying to consistently perpetuate some fictitious standard that's impossible to uphold. I am too tired, too scared, too anxious, too overwhelmed, too kind to myself and too in love to pretend that motherhood isn't anything other than a crazy mess of good and bad. So, with that in mind, here are a few things no mother should be afraid to get real about:
How Hard Motherhood Is
Motherhood is usually packaged and represented as something "easy" and "intuitive" and "natural." I mean, sometimes it can feel that way, sure, but motherhood is also very hard and confusing and requires so much time and energy. It's not easy to make the decisions motherhood requires you to make. It's not easy to know "everything." It's not easy to have someone need you constantly. It's OK to be real about how difficult it can be, and create a realistic list of expectations, instead of one that you (or anyone else, for that matter) will never, ever live up to.
How Scary Motherhood Can Be
Motherhood is terrifying. Literally, terrifying. When you become a mother, you're choosing to rip your heart from your chest and watch it grow and learn and run off into the world. When your baby hurts, you hurt. When your kid is upset, you're upset. It's so scary, to know that you're responsible for another life yet, simultaneously, be acutely aware that there's so much you can't control. You're afraid of making mistakes. You're afraid of not being the mother your baby needs you to be. You're afraid of accidents happening. You're just, well, afraid, and motherhood is basically just learning to live in a constant state of fear that is somewhat manageable.
The Times They Need Help
Every mother is going to need help multiple times, if not all the time. It doesn't matter if the mother has an active parenting partner or is a single mother, we all need help. Hell, every adult needs help. Being honest about what you can and cannot handle is essential, and one of the kindest things you can do for yourself and your family. Never, ever, be afraid to ask for help. You're not a bad mom for needing it. You're not a lesser mom for having asked for it. You're a human being with needs, just like anyone and everyone else.
The Moments When They Want To Quit
Most (if not all) mothers will think it eventually and probably more than once, but rarely does a mother feel comfortable admitting that, sometimes, she doesn't want to mom anymore. We all hit a "breaking point," so-to-speak, and that point usually involves looking longingly at the front door and silently planning a potential escape. Will you run away from your family forever? Of course not. Do you regret being a mother? No way. However, motherhood is taxing and exhausting and difficult and, sometimes, you just don't want to do it anymore. It's normal. It's understandable. It's OK.
The Self-Doubt Motherhood Creates
I try to stray from making sweeping statements, but there isn't a mother in the world who feels confident all the freakin' time. Even if you've done all the research and all the reading and asked all the questions, you're going to wonder if what you're doing is what you should be doing. There's so much unsolicited advice and passionate points of view and endless parenting techniques that, well, it can be difficult to know what will work for you and your family, and what won't.
I'll never forget the moment my son was placed in my arms, and the astounding amount of self-doubt I felt. I wasn't sure that I could handle motherhood. I wasn't sure if I was capable of taking care of someone so perfect. I wasn't sure if I was going to make the best decisions for him. It was scary to realize those feelings existed and it was even scarier voicing them, but I've learned that they're normal. They're normal, they're frequent and, honestly, they make me a better mother.
The Moments When Motherhood Isn't Enough
Because society has arbitrarily decided that motherhood is somehow the ultimate definition of "womanhood," so many mothers are afraid to admit that motherhood simply isn't enough. You need more. You need more than your child, because you are more than a mother. You need friendships and relationships outside of your children. You need validation and accomplishments outside of your children. This doesn't mean you don't value your children or care about your children and it definitely doesn't mean that your children aren't an important part of your life. They are, they're just not the only part of your life.
The Mistakes Moms Inevitably Make
Every mother will make multiple mistakes, but rarely do mothers feel confident admitting to those mistakes. Sadly, mothers are judged so harshly and with such frequency, that any mistake they make is considered a direct and consistent representation of their parenting capabilities, in general. I made a huge mistake when my son was six months old that, sadly, landed him in the hospital. I was devastated and so very afraid to admit it even happened, but that mistake taught me so much and made me a better mother and a stronger woman. Mistakes will happen. You will screw up. It's OK.
How Exhausting Motherhood Can Be
When the collective "we" talk about motherhood and how exhausting it can be, it's usually packaged as somewhat of a lovable and quirky joke. Like, "Ha, oh man, I need all the coffee today and I'm never sleeping again and look at these bags under my eyes aren't I just adorable when I'm super exhausted?" Well, yes, you are, but motherhood isn't just physically exhausting. It's emotionally and mentally exhausting, and that exhaustion can take its toll. We need to talk about the exhaustion in a real, tangible way that encourages mothers to take care of themselves. We shouldn't be tiring ourselves to the point that we can't function. Take care of yourself.
How Happy Motherhood Can Make You
So many mothers are also afraid of being honest about how wonderful motherhood can be. In an attempt to avoid "bragging" or perpetuating unrealistic representations of motherhood, many mothers feel like they have to stay silent about the wonderful days they have and how happy motherhood makes them. Don't. Be proud of the life choice you've made. Be proud of your children and the awesome, amazing things they do. Be proud of what you have accomplished as a parent. I mean, it's pretty freakin' incredible and you freakin' deserve it.