While fumbling through my bedside table last night, I came across a book I had purchased about 3 years ago.(yes, I read on occasion) It is titled "I Was A Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids." This might quite possibly be the best book I have read about modern motherhood.
A little back story here: I was married for 7 years before we had children. Then my boys were born 15 months apart. For all you moms out there, you understand the anxiety you have about everything while going through this time. I was always looking for something to validate me & what i was feeling at this time. I was exhausted, depressed, overwhelmed & desperate. No one ever warned me about this. "They" had failed to mention that on top of being so sleep deprived, nursing & fat..I would be a raving lunatic. I thought they would hand me this baby & I would be in love and all would be right in the universe. Um..nope. That did not happen for me. Now, I absolutely LOVE my children, don't get me wrong here. But it takes time to grasp the idea of children. That you are "mommy" now. ME? I'm someones mother? I am responsible for properly raising these perfect little creatures? God help them..& me!
The book was written by two moms who interviewed thousands of mothers. It is broken down into chapters that cover topics like : guilt, choices, judgment & expectations vs. reality. Basically the keywords in the mothers handbook. This is not some doctor or psychiatrist telling me how it should be done or how I should feel. These are REAL women in real life. Women like me. And for the first time as a mother, I felt OK. This book saved my sanity.
Throughout the book they have little excerpts called "Dirty Little Secrets." I just love these. Let me share some of my favorites:
"I don't know how to ask for help. I just know how to scream at my husband."
"Sometimes I think..I gave up nine months of drinking for this?"
"I would give up my husband for a housekeeper."
"I lost my job but still dropped my son at daycare and pretended to look for a job while I got a manicure."
Reading these things made me laugh. The made me feel normal. I wasn't the only one out there not living up to the "expectation" of motherhood? I think the pressure we put on ourselves as mothers is soul-crushing. You cannot have & do it all. There are trade-offs, everyday. It is making peace with your own choices that gets you through it. We spend our whole lives trying to be better, prettier, skinnier, more balanced (what the hell is that?) while losing a little part of ourselves, everyday, in the process. I'm still trying to figure out who I am.
This book was like the Mommy Confessional. I then started going through my own process of acceptance. We all need to do it. Go ahead. Try it. I'll go first....
I tell my kids I am working on the computer when I'm really playing scrabble.
My favorite time of day is 8:30am. When I just got the kids on the bus for school.
I throw out a lot of birthday party invitations & don't tell my kids.
I have a babysitter booked every other weekend, whether I have plans or not, so we can go out.
Does this make me an awful mother? NO! Am I selfish? Maybe, a little. But my sanity depends on these things. It is my way of getting ME back. We are told how a mother should act, look like & feel. The expectation is so unrealistic. What is important is that we recognize this & accept that it is unattainable.
I always wanted to be that mom who was perfectly put together, calm, poised & had color-coordinated cupcakes at birthday parties. The one who had the spotless home, the laundry done & dinner in the oven while reading stories to the kids. I got news for you. NOT. EVEN. CLOSE!
It took a long time for me to admit out loud that I did not LOVE being mommy. That I was sometimes resentful and longed for life that I no longer had. That my biggest accomplishment during the day was cleaning the bathrooms. And don't give me that crap about "being a mother is the most important job in the world." In real life, if you don't get paid it is not considered a job. It was really hard to admit. But I did. I am also lucky enough to be married to a man who gets that. Who gets ME.
I guess I am writing this because though those "infant" years I was really struggling with the way I felt inside. No one ever told me it would be this hard. No one told me the way I felt was OK. So I am here to tell you it is. You have to do your best to make peace with what kind of mommy YOU are. I did & I am a better mother, wife & women because of it.