Motherhood is one of the greatest things many women experience.
For many, it also happens to be one of the hardest and longest challenges of their lives.
There’s a beauty in creating life. There’s joy in watching a child grow. And there’s awe in seeing a personality blossom.
However, we might also feel heartache, isolation, fear, and even regret.
We want so badly to be perfect mothers that often we push ourselves – and our children – too hard. We don’t want others to see our struggles, fearing we’re alone in these feelings, and others will think we’re unworthy of motherhood.
The fear of sharing our struggles, however, is the very thing that creates a cycle which can lead to many of these feelings and thoughts. Knowing these things are normal is often all it takes to alleviate stress, and allow us to work through the negative feelings. Sometimes, hearing “me too” is all we need to process them. And, at other times, we simply need more support, but we won’t find that support without being honest.
Each mother’s experience is different, and her feelings might vary during different stages of motherhood. Perhaps some or all of these things are true for you, or maybe none are right now. But for many, some of these truths are real, and hard to share.
9 Hidden Truths Of Motherhood
Here are 9 hidden truths some mothers are scared to share:
#1: You Might Regret Becoming A Mother
You might regret your timing, your circumstances, or even motherhood in general. The feeling isn’t something most parents feel most of the time… but if you’ve ever questioned your decision to become a mother – maybe at 2am when the crying Just. Won’t. Stop – well, you’re probably in good company.
Perhaps it’s when you get yet another bill, and it’s also time to buy more diapers (nappies). Maybe it’s when your friends invite you out but you can’t go.
It doesn’t mean you don’t love your child. And you might never hear another parent brave enough to admit it, but it’s normal to wonder whether you really should have become a parent.
#2: You Might Question Your Parents In Ways You Never Did Before
Having children has a way of making you reevaluate your childhood. In many ways, it helps you to appreciate your parents’ sacrifices, their slips of patience, and the reasons for some of the parenting decisions they made.
On the other hand, having kids might give you a different understanding of your parents’ choices. Maybe it’s when your baby is up crying at 2 am and you’re rocking her to sleep. You wonder about your mother’s advice to let your 2 month-old learn to self soothe, which she gave because she probably chose that for you. Or maybe it’s something big – like abuse or neglect. Having your own children can reopen old wounds.
It can also be heartbreaking and worrying, as you know you’ll make some mistakes along the way as well.
#3: You Might Have Less Patience For All Children Once You’re A Mother
Before I had children, I was a nursery volunteer, a babysitter, and even a nanny. Before having our own, we often see children as innocent beings, who are simply exploring their world.
After having children, and seeing them 24/7, you realise these little human beings are capable of some behaviour you just simply can’t understand. Why did your two-year-old draw on the wall… again? Why?
You find the patience to deal with your own toddler, but you might find it harder with someone else’s. Why? Perhaps you’re simply exhausted from your own children. Perhaps you realise just how calculated misbehaviour can seem.
It isn’t uncommon for a former Mary Poppins to find herself just a little less fond of everyone else’s children.
#4: You Can Live With Little Strangers
When you have a baby or toddler, your child is on or with you nearly all day (and often all night). As she begins preschool, then elementary school, and even later, it’s easy for you to wake up and realise you don’t really know your own child like you thought you did.
You half expect this when your child becomes a teen. You’re prepared to try to fight against it happening. But you just might wake up one day and not recognise your 4 or 8 year-old.
The days are long but the years are short is a saying for a reason. In all the day-to-day responsibilities of motherhood, it’s easy not to be as deeply engaged as you planned.
Make an effort to engage with your children, but also know that sometimes the changes in their personality and development can happen quickly.
#5: You Start To Understand How Parents Lose Their Patience
Before kids, you could never understand the ‘shaken baby syndrome’. You never understood how on earth a mother could be abusive. In fact, you couldn’t even understand why a mother would snap – even just with her voice.
After kids, you realise how physically and mentally exhausting it can be.
How the cries can be ear-piercing.
How much a toddler can really test you.
How a child can talk back so much.
As a healthy and adjusted adult, you’ll find ways to cope, that will never include abuse. But you do realise now how easy it would be for less stable parents to get to that point.
#6: Your Partner Can Easily Become Just A Roommate
You saw some of your friends’ parents divorcing as you started or finished high school.
Maybe you even saw your own parents’ marriage fall apart once the glue of parenting was gone.
Certainly, there are many reasons marriages can dissolve. But it isn’t uncommon for parents to get so wrapped up in parenting that they become nothing but roommates. It’s rarely a conscious choice; it’s something you slip into.
If you don’t make your relationship a priority, it will easily fall by the wayside when children are involved.
#7: You Might Despise Something About Your Child’s Behaviour
Let me be clear: you shouldn’t despise your child. However, you might despise something about your child’s behaviour.
Before having children, you probably couldn’t imagine despising anything about an ‘innocent’ child. You couldn’t imagine feeling rage against a child, let alone your own child.
However, if you see your child just being downright mean to her sibling, or if she lies, again, when she’s old enough to know better, then you just might despise the behaviour in a way you never thought possible.
#8: You Might Struggle With Who You Are As A Mother
We all have perfect parenting ideals – until we become parents.
You planned to breast feed until your child self-weaned. You were never going to yell. You were going to be a part of the preschool co-op. You were going to help out at every parent committee bake sale. You were going to be your daughter’s best friend.
Then you had a child.
Maybe you got tired, so you weaned your child. Maybe you just didn’t have time to be involved in the co-op, because your second child was high needs. And maybe you weren’t at the bake sale because you needed overtime at work.
Whatever your ideals were, chances are motherhood is a little different from what you planned, and you struggle with who you really are as a mother. Or maybe you’ll meet your parenting ideals, only to find they’re not as fulfilling as you expected, and there isn’t as much appreciation for your effort as you imagined.
#9: No Matter How Much You Give, It Might Never Feel Like Enough
Motherhood is this weird balance of wanting to give your children the world, but not make them ungrateful. And while you recognise your toddler can’t grasp the sacrifices you make, somehow you want your work acknowledged.
You can feel like you give, and give, and give, and no one sees what you’re doing. You might feel as though you can never measure up to the PTO president’s mothering, or find the right balance of work and home life, like your boss seems to be able to.
In reality, you give all that you can, and it is enough. It’s just not always easy to recognise, or remember, that.
There’s a beauty in motherhood. There’s joy, and there’s appreciation for having children. However, the beauty doesn’t negate the hard parts of parenthood. It doesn’t negate the dark feelings we sometimes have. It doesn’t mean we don’t love our children. It just means that motherhood has been romanticised, and we aren’t always open to learning what’s normal.
We don’t always chat about our struggles, so we think we’re alone. We create some of these dark thoughts simply by not sharing them. If you’re with a close friend, sharing some of these truths will help you to process them – often in a way that makes them no longer feel quite so dark.
BellyBelly highly recommends the book What Mothers Do, Especially When It Looks Like Nothing by Naomi Stadlen. Also be sure to read our article, 9 Ways To Calm Down When Your Kids Are Driving You Nuts for tips to help reduce some of the stress of early motherhood.