Motherhood Sucks Sometimes
I recently asked other moms to fill in the blank, "Motherhood is _____". Answers included things like "...long days and short years", "...one giant game of throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. #aintnomanualforthat", and "keeping me on my toes". Summed up, motherhood is a huge gift, but it is freaking HARD. It's messy. Some days, it's a complete train wreck. And everything is on fire. And there are sharks. I'm not sure why, but they're there. And they have grenade launchers, and the grenades are full of poop. Motherhood is rewarding, but it is not always enjoyable.
That brings me to something that's been on my mind for a while now. I want to preface this by saying I am hesitant to even go here, because I truly can see both "sides" of this topic, and soooooo many well-meaning friends and family have been THAT person with every great intention. If any of you are reading this, or WHEN you read this because I'm 100% sure at least some of you will, don't get your panties in a bunch.
If one more person tells me, especially in a moment of frustration, to "enjoy every moment", or any other combination of cliche words that essentially means the same freaking thing, I will straight up cut a donkey. "It goes by so fast". "They're only little for a little bit". "You're going to miss this". GREAT insight! Thanks! I've never heard ANY of those and gosh gee willy, now I just feel SO much better about my toddler refusing to do anything I tell him to do and my infant screaming at the top of her lungs the moment I put her down or try to wear her! Taking 2 hours to move these two small people out the door and into the car is suddenly SO MUCH FUN because you clued me into the fact that they eventually learn to wipe their own asses. I'm gonna say a prayer that this stage lasts forever, now!
Sure, I'll miss my kids being small and squishy. I'll miss them having tiny voices. I'll miss them running to mommy the moment they bump their knee/arm/head/hair/fingernail. I'll miss tucking them in each night. You know what I will never miss, though? The moments when I want to pull my damn hair out, when I literally feel like my skin is crawling, when I cannot leave the room for more than 10 seconds flat just to pee without having someone scream or worrying about their safety, when I'm scrubbing shit off a toddler and his clothes, when I get massively spit up on literally more times each day than I can count, when my showers being only 4 days apart is a WIN, when the thought of anyone touching me any more by the end of the day makes me physically ill, when my sleep tracker tells me my sleep quality that night was a whopping 47% and I'm like "Oh sweet, that's better than the last two weeks!".....should I continue? Or does that give you the picture? Cause I could totally write a book about the less than enjoyable moments if anyone doubts their abundance..
I love my kids. Like really LOVE them, more than anything, and I make sure they know that multiple times a day. Motherhood is NOT enjoyable every moment, though. Hell, it's not even enjoyable every DAY! Not for most people, at least...I mean, maybe for those who are on some really strong drugs, or were literally born and destined to raise children and do NOTHING else, or who day drink (I think I could totally get on board with enjoying every moment if I were drunk every moment...maybe...still not sure how I'd feel about feces...), or who had nannies and/or cleaning ladies and/or other family members who took care of all the shitty (literally) stuff, or whose husbands did EVERYTHING while they just went out and did fun things with the kids (does that even exist? Isn't it called a "wife"?), or who got lucky and had unbelievably easy kids, or I don't know...maybe are now old enough to have completely forgotten the kind of hell those days with little kids brings. There's a strong trend there, if I'm being really honest. I have not had a single person with young kids tell me to "enjoy every moment" or any other similar nonsense. It's ALL been people whose kids are grown and out of the house. Here's something to think about: I have friends who struggle with infertility, who have lost babies, who are the ONLY people who should EVER be allowed to say "Don't take your kids for granted, enjoy every moment, don't for a second forget what a blessing they are", and THEY EVEN KNOW THAT IT'S FREAKING HARD TO PARENT KIDS, no matter how thankful you are for them. When I vent about a hard day with my kids, those friends SHOULD feel resentful, and SHOULD be telling me to shut up and be thankful and enjoy having kids here to struggle with, but they don't. The only people who are allowed to say this, the only people who would truly give anything just to have toddler poop to scrub out of their carpet one day, the only people who SHOULD be saying this, don't say it.
Now, like I said, I absolutely get both sides. Yeah, those people who tell you to enjoy every moment have every best intention in the world. They are walking through their own struggles with parenthood and they just want ONE day back, where their now grown kids are tiny and squishy again, with little voices, wanting snuggles, needing Mommy more than anything else in the world. I REALLY get it. I know when that day comes, when our kids are grown and moving on with their own lives, that it will hurt. I know I'll miss them. I'm sure as hell not about to go to any empty nesters and tell them to "just enjoy it", though. That would be incredibly insensitive, in spite of how well-intentioned it might be, because intentions without action mean SHIT. This is why it boggles my mind that those who are supposed to be wiser from having been through it can so easily fail to remember what it's like, or fail to see how hard young parents struggle every single day, or even worse, to judge someone for not loving every moment.
Do you know what happens when you tell a mother with young kids that she should try to just enjoy every moment? She probably already feels like she's drowning most days, in which case a sane or logical person would toss her a life raft, or just a freaking foam pool noodle at the very least, but screw logic and sanity! Why offer help?! Nahhh, let's just tell her to enjoy drowning instead. Let's get up on our high horses and sprinkle good intentions alllllll over her like the Good Intentions Fairy, without actually offering any help. After all, she isn't drowning because there is too much weight on her and she's in quicksand. She obviously just sucks at swimming, right? When you look at a mother who is in the shit-filled trenches of blow outs and spit up and tantrums and toddler sass, and you tell her to just enjoy it, here's what goes through her mind: "This is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, but everyone keeps telling me I should really just try to enjoy it, so I must just be really bad at it. Is it not this hard for everyone else? Are they that much better at being a mom than me? Why are they able to enjoy it so much more? Why do I suck at this? What am I doing so wrong? Are my kids just THAT much more difficult than other kids? Am I ruining them already? Do they just hate me? Am I that awful to be around?" This train of thought goes on and onnn, it can spiral out of control, and it only gets worse the more "seasoned mothers" tell her that she should be enjoying it more. Of course, she doesn't say anything, but instead just tries to enjoy it more because that's what the experienced "pros" are telling her to do. She CAN'T enjoy the crappy parts (no one could!), so she just believes she's a bad mom. If she's lucky, she has other awesome mom friends who have the balls to say, "No, this is awful somedays and you probably won't miss it and you are not a bad mom for hating torture", but not everyone is lucky.
Social media is also working against her, by the way. Society has somehow gotten to this creepy, sick place where instead of treating others like humans and having sympathy for them, we just judge the crap out of them and then hope whatever they're going through never happens to us, or better yet, secretly think "Thank God I don't ever have to deal with that again!" while in the same moment telling her to enjoy it. Everyone acts like any other person's problems are completely their own fault and within their control, because if we can completely control our kids that must mean we can avoid having the same problems, right? It's also really interesting how all kids in the past were completely PERFECT. "Her kid threw a tantrum? Well, she shouldn't be accepting that behavior! MY kids NEVER raised their voices or even whined. Brought it on herself!" "Her kid bolted away from her in a crowded place and got hurt? Her own fault! She should have had him trained like a service dog to stay by her side at all times without needing a leash! MY children always knew that wasn't ok!" "Oh wow, her kid decided it'd be fun to pee all over everything in the bathroom, except for the toilet? She obviously potty trained him wrong. She asked for it! MY son was trained to only pee IN the toilet!" We give snapshots of the VERY rare and fleeting, but perfect moments, while pretending that we have nothing to be mildly unhappy about. Is it really sooooo hard to just admit that with having young kids, come some horrendous things that NO SANE PERSON could ever enjoy, and that EVERY mom has been there?! No. It's not. When someone has the flu, do we tell them to just enjoy it because at least they're alive, and point out that they brought it on themselves by not building up a strong immune system? I DARE you to say that next time. Have you ever been throat punched and vomited on simultaneously? No? There's a surefire way to try something new! Next time a mom of little ones admits that it isn't all snuggles, butterfly kisses, and long naps, maybe instead of guilting her for being human, just say, "I'm sorry! That really sucks!" Go ahead, copy and paste it into a note titled "How to Not Be Awful", just in case you forget how to have sympathy between now and then. If you REALLY want to level up on the good human scale, you could even say, "How can I help?" (GASP!) I know. Try not to hurt yourself with all that humaning!