I have a small confession to make: I love being a mom. I know, I know, this may seem a little shocking in a social media-driven world where you’re just not hip if you haven’t got a list of “10 things my kids do that drive me nuts” at the ready — although don’t get me wrong, my list would be way longer than 10 — but I just don’t see motherhood this way. I don’t see it as an opportunity to post endless accounts of how sleep-deprived I am, or about how fed up I am with having to go to soccer practice in the rain, or how desperate I am to get some “me time” (that ship sailed as soon as my firstborn arrived!). I also don’t see it as a competition among all my other mom friends as to who’s having the toughest time of it all. I see motherhood as a privilege.
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Yet the many posts or articles that come across our Facebook, Twitter, or preferred social media feeds seem to all have one prevailing message: motherhood stinks. Embellished with a sprinkling of curse words, and sometimes humor, to really drive the point home, we’re all too aware of the miseries of what it is to be a mom today. Take 20 Signs I’m Too Tired To Mom, a fine example of the mothering experience being so exhausting that the writer just kind of gives up on mothering. I get it, it is tiring but listing off the writer’s 20 bad parenting techniques (even if trying to be funny) left me feeling child welfare should perhaps be called in.
And the trend for sharing our parenting woes has led to every psychological and practical aspect of motherhood being scrutinized, from kids driving us crazy (did we ever expect they wouldn’t at times?), to studies being made on how kids actually ruin our lives. It seems that whatever type of mom you are, however your day is turning out, there’s a list at hand reinforcing all your hardships.
Of course lots of moms breathe a huge sigh of relief knowing they’re not alone. Sharing these concerns and problems has helped many moms, including me. But it just feels that this habit of constantly sharing all the negatives is turning motherhood into a journey that no one in their right mind would ever want to take.
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We know too well that misery loves company, and it seems that there’s a growing level of misery around an area of life which should be beautiful. Motherhood is a challenge, but it needs to be. It’s not something to embark on lightly, you’re signing up to devote your life to another being with no guarantees of anything in return — and as my mom, who has nine grown kids, says: “Children are far more worrying once they’re adults as their problems are bigger and sometimes us moms just can’t fix these problems.”
Being a mother is a vocation, and an honor. When we become a mom we hopefully become a better version of who we once were as we want our kids to inherit the best of us, and learn from our good behavior. And when we succeed there’s no better feeling in the world. However, we have to expect moments of failure.
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My eldest, at 18, still has issues holding a fork correctly — and we can either learn and laugh at these failings and move onward, or we can post them online with a touch of despair to the rest of the world. But just think, one day our kids may be able to read these woes. I bet they’ll love knowing they were such a burden and prevented us from having time for coffee, that extra exercise class, or that they destroyed our figures.
So when times get tough, try looking to your real friends and family for help. Look to those with a positive attitude about motherhood and don’t be tempted to join the “being a mom is so terrible” club. I’m not saying this glibly; my four kids have left me in tears with exhaustion, doubting my own parenting skills, and with a pretty sore back from picking up endless pieces of Lego. But as my eldest is preparing to leave home with a face full of hair and a head full of exciting ideas, my heart is slightly breaking. Soon it won’t be me he’ll be turning to fix whatever is broken in his life. So now when my youngest reaches out to hold my hand, I hold his that little bit firmer and longer … while I still can.