Motherhood is Impossible and You're Doing it Beautifully
I will just start right off the bat by saying you’re a wonderful mother. You, yes YOU, the one reading this article. And no, this is not another heartfelt opinion blog asking us to stop the “mommy wars” and all just get along because I think the “mommy wars” are almost entirely mythical. They were made up by a greedy formula company to make more money by telling you, “You’re not a bad mom for choosing formula.” When NO ONE ever said you were in the first place. Do some moms judge other moms? Sure they do just like some people judge other people. Some people are just judgmental, but trust me when I say that no one can judge me more than I am judging myself. As a mother, I fall short every day, in every way. In fact I hate motherhood. It’s absolutely impossible.
Motherhood is put on a pedestal. Mothers worshipped and revered, “it’s life’s greatest calling,” “the most selfless act,” etc. I have heard it all, all of my life. I always wanted to be a mother and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but impossible? No, no one told me it would be that. But it is that. It’s a 25 hour a day job that you do for free. It’s never ending. It’s usually thankless. Nothing you do will ever be enough. Nothing. It’s time we got honest and honestly it’s a joke. Motherhood is like quick sand. The more I do, the harder I struggle, the more I worry, the harder I try, the faster I sink.
When I became a mother I wanted to do it “right.” I was already a doula and childbirth educator so I had a pretty good idea what I wanted and hopped for during pregnancy and birth and the early newborn period. I would take care of myself, eat well, and stay healthy. I would give birth at home, un-medicated. I would breastfeed. Yes, these are the “right” things to do. Then during my pregnancy I started reading and learning about other choices I had. I decided I would cloth diaper. I learned extensively about proper car seat usage. I would practice baby lead weaning and feed my daughter whole, healthy foods. Not that processed crap in a jar. I would read to her to help develop her language skills and I would not leave her to cry in her crib. I would respond to all of her needs and babywear her to calm and sooth her. I would limit TV time and do art projects and only use organic baby soaps and lotions. Yes, I was going to do it “right,” and be a great mother.
My daughter is almost two and I sit here and I know I have failed her. In every possible way I have fallen short. I am still breastfeeding her, but not as often as some moms and I’m probably going to wean her shortly after her second birthday. I wanted to nurse her until age two. We have almost made it. I’m pretty sure we will get there with ease, but even once we have reached our goal it still won’t be enough. Some moms nurse until age 4 or 5 or more. Their babies (preschoolers) will reap the awesome benefits of mother’s milk maybe twice as long as my daughter because I’m too lazy or selfish to keep going. My boobs are tired. I have failed her. And baby lead weaning is going great! She eats a varied and healthy diet. Broccoli is still one of her favorite foods. She chooses it over pizza. She has never had a drop of soda and loves fresh foods, especially fruit, avocados, and peas. She is by all accounts a great and healthy eater, but I have fallen short there too because I don’t always feed her organic. I can’t always justify the cost. So I am just ladling in all kinds of toxic pesticides and none of the food she eats is fresh from our garden. We don’t even have a garden. So she just eats regular old store bought garbage, grown in Chechawumba.
We cloth diaper her almost exclusively, I read they are better for babies’ skin and certainly better for the environment. So I wash diapers every two days and dry and stuff and fold, but I’m cheap and we bought “cheap diapers,” made mostly in china and I just recently learned they could contain lead in the fabric dye or be otherwise unsafe. Most of our diapers are natural fibers (read: better for baby’s skin), but others are synthetic. I might as well be putting a chemical soaked rag on my baby’s nether regions. Oh and I won’t spring for natural laundry soap because it’s already pricey and to clean cloth diapers properly you have to use 2-3 times a normal amount so I use Tide, so I’m sure it leaves a residue and I am just poisoning her there too. We cloth diaper, when disposables would be easier, but even that’s not enough. I could be doing it “better” I could have done more. Read and researched more.
I read to my daughter, probably on and off for an hour a day. We’ll go through 20 books or more every day. She loves it and probably partly because of it her language skills are off the charts. She was speaking in full, complex sentences by 18 months, but I could do more. I could read to her more. Many times a day I just pull out my phone and totally zone out. I play on Facebook or read the news. Remember “no TV”? Well, she watches TV. I gave up on that months ago too. I failed her yet again. I was tired and touched out and really needed to get some chores done so I plopped her in front of the most educational show I could find. So there she sits. Her young mind withering away as I fail her yet again.
I’m almost two years in and it’s been a blur. I’m just faking it. I don’t know what I’m doing. She still doesn’t sleep through the night. My house still isn’t clean. I’m a wreck. I don’t take nearly enough pictures and I forgot to write down her major milestones. Her baby book is half way finished and my nerves are fried. I’m tired, so incredibly tired. The weight of the world has fallen on my shoulders. I am responsible for an entire human being. It still doesn’t seem real. I’m regretting almost everything I have done for her. Was it right? AM I DOING THIS RIGHT? Is there something wrong with me? Is this post partum depression? Surely if others moms were feeling the same way they would be talking about it?
So I started talking about it. Asking first my sister, then a few close friends, and I can’t speak for everyone but so many people I have talked to feel this same way, that they are failing or just faking it. So many moms feel like they should have done this or could have done that and quietly, afraid to even admit it, they say to me “I hate motherhood too,” and then they are free. Being able to admit it is so freeing. Motherhood is not some great calling. It sucks. And in this world of new research, parenting experts and new theories everyday it’s no wonder that most people think they are doing it wrong. I don’t think it’s mom on mom warfare out there. I think we are attacking ourselves with our own insecurity and inadequacy and doubt.
The more I read and learn, the more I know I could have done more. I want to be a natural, gentle, kind, engaging, educated, supportive, and generally perfect mother, and I’m not. I’m just a human being, but she deserves SO much more and herein lies the problem. You see, I hate motherhood, the expectations, the responsibility, the worry, but I love my daughter. She is amazing! She is so cute it makes my heart ache. She is perfection. I want her to have the best of everything. The absolute best! I don’t want her to have me for a mother. I want her to have a much better mother. I want her to have the best mother. Motherhood is impossible because nothing you ever do will be enough. Why? Because you love your children and you want them to have the best, and that? That’s what makes YOU a wonderful mother.