This is something that has been on my mind lately as I enter into my third year of being a mom. Each year has brought its own challenges and hard learned lessons. And of course this year will have very much of the same. One lesson that I need to continually relearn is that things will always be changing. Disclaimer: For the sake of continuity I will be using the terms “mom” and “motherhood” but please change this to whatever term applies to you as I believe what I am writing can speak to most people in different ways.
When you (or your partner) gets pregnant, you are guaranteed to hear the phrases “its the hardest thing you will ever do” and “it is the most wonderful thing in the world”. At some point after giving birth these phrases merged in my mind to sound more like “this will be incredibly hard but in those difficult moments you will know that this is the most wonderful thing in the world”.
This inaccurate translation often left me feeling inadequate as a mother and frustrated with myself for not having the grace and patience I thought I should automatically have. And even though I expected the infant stage to be hard I figured at a certain point I would get the hang of this motherhood gig, just like I got adjusted to the previous jobs I have had.
I am more than two years in and although certain aspects of being a mother have of course been figured out, there continues to be frequent unexpected changes. And I know it might sound a little absurd since there is a ton of information out there for each stage of a child’s life, but experiencing it firsthand is completely different.
For instance, you know an infant will be awake every two hours for a feeding, but you might not realize that your toddler may have multiple sleep regressions that will have them up multiple times a night. And even if you had a heads up thanks to the internet, there is a good chance it will happen months before its “supposed” to, leaving you certain that you got the one child that is not living life according to babycenter.com.
You might look forward to when you can start giving your child real food so that either your boobs will get a break or you won’t have to wash so many freakin bottles. Then you end up with that picky kid that hates everything you make and just wants plain pasta and french fries.
Being a mother is like trying to walk down the road balancing an egg on a spoon while different objects are being thrown at you and the road keeps changing. The moment you have one thing figured out there will be some developmental change, sickness or life situation that will once more throw you into the great unknown. And you will find yourself desperately typing sentences such as “do toddlers have tantrums in the middle of the night?” (FYI: they do, that will be a separate blog post.)
And yet as moms we are constantly being told “enjoy every moment!” Subconsciously those well-intentioned words became a standard that I fell short of on a daily basis. Motherhood will have many of us question at times whether we are actually cut out for this job. We may wonder why we haven’t adjusted to the fact that things will be constantly changing. Not to state the obvious but humans have been raising humans since there were humans! It’s part of the natural circle of life, so why doesn’t it feel more natural?
I have recently been thinking about being a mom in terms of my previous jobs. I didn’t hit the ground running, there was always an initial learning curve followed by adjustments as policies, bosses or job roles changed. Now imagine working in a place where your boss changed every three months, and brought in new requirements, systems and expectations. Imagine that you won’t even be aware of the changes until your boss comes to your house at three in the morning screaming their head off at you, maybe also headbutting you in the process. I think we can all agree it would take quite a bit longer to feel settled.
So my friends, for those that can related to this article in any way, let this be a reality check. Let the weight of unrealistic expectations come off your shoulders. Remind yourself that these ups and downs are guaranteed to happen, its what we signed up for whether we took the time to read through the “terms and conditions” or not. (Does anyone ever read through those?)
And if you take time to reflect, you will most likely come to the conclusion that the good times outweigh the bad in the long run. And you might not remember those good times when your child is up for no apparent reason for the fourth time. You might huff and puff a bit and that is okay, that is natural too. Lets try to take a second in those moments to remind ourselves that we are exactly the right moms that our children need.