This is my second in a series of posts I’m calling “Mom Confessions” I think as moms, we keep a lot of things inside. Things we’re too afraid to say out loud because of the judgement we’re sure to receive as soon as we say them. Things like, “I co-sleep” or “sometimes I want to run away” or “sometimes I dream about life before kids”
I know this because I have had the above conversations with many a friend. We’re (mostly) all thinking it, but just too damn afraid to say it. Even though we LOVE this mom gig and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Having these feelings don’t make us bad moms either. It makes us human. I want to share these because even if they help one mom feel less guilty, it will be worth it.
My second confessions – It took me a really long time before I loved being a mom.
This was a hard one for me. Growing up, there weren’t many things I was sure of. For example, my sister has known she wanted to be a vet pretty much since she knew what being a vet was. There was never any doubt in her mind that’s what she wanted to do.
Me, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I waffled from teacher, Broadway performer back to teaching then, criminal psychologist and then eventually landed in Marketing. However, the one thing I was sure of was I wanted to be a Mom. I have such clear memories of playing with my dolls, pretending to be a Mom. It was my destiny.
When I found out I was pregnant with O, I couldn’t wait. Literally waiting for him to be born was torture because I couldn’t wait to begin my journey as a mother. This was what I was born to do. Everything was going to be perfect.
And then…he was born and something just didn’t feel right. When he arrived, of course I loved him, but I didn’t feel that immediate connection that you hear so many mothers talk about. I didn’t cry with joy when he was born. If anything, I was in shock.
As time went on and breastfeeding didn’t work (something I’ve talked about 1 million times now) I think there was a small part of me that resented him. Even though it was obviously not his fault, I felt like my journey had just begun and already it was nothing like I had imagined.
As time went on, I was still missing that “feeling” Other Moms would say to me “Don’t you just LOVE being a Mom” and I would fake a smile and go “Oh yea, it’s so great” when all I wanted to do was run away.
I think part of it was that I felt like I was doing everything wrong. I was so caught up in what I thought I “should” be doing and that I wasn’t doing those things. Instead of focusing on what I was doing right, I focused on everything I thought I was doing wrong.
I constantly looked at other kids O’s age and wondered why he wasn’t like them. Other babies went easily to other people where O was completely attached to me and would freak out when I left the room. I was FOR SURE doing something wrong.
It also didn’t matter what people told me. My amazing friends and family told me that I was doing a great job, that I was a natural. Externally I smiled and said “Thank you!” but internally, I felt like a phony. Every day felt like a little bit of a struggle and there was a part of me that felt trapped.
When I went back to work, I found some relief. If being a Mom wasn’t the end game for me, at least I could return to the workplace and contribute there. I could still have conversations with adults and use my brain for things other than motherhood. I still felt the guilt of being excited to go back to work – something I discussed in a past post. What mother wants to leave her children with a (then) stranger and work all day?
Then, W was born. I don’t know what it was, but something clicked into place. Maybe because I no longer had the emotional energy to worry about what I was doing right and wrong. Maybe because my sweet new baby had to be taken to the NICU immediately after he was born and I realized I had much bigger fish to fry. Maybe because I FINALLY realized, nothing is forever and the hard moments pass and everything works itself out.
I was finally able to step back and appreciate the beautiful family I have.
Of course I still get frustrated and overwhelmed and exhausted. Of course I still feel like I’m screwing everything up and that I’m doing nothing right…but those feelings are fleeting and just come with the territory. I take a deep breath and remind myself that everything is going to be ok.
So, to the Momma reading this, sitting on your couch, wondering if this motherhood gig is for you…hang in there. It gets better. So much better. You’ve got this. And until you feel better…know that you’re not alone.