Friday, August 28

My Truth About Being a Mom

I'm a part of a mom group on Facebook. A few, actually. They are fun and useful, especially when I have a question about something my child is experiencing or if I just need advice on mothering techniques. I was prompted to write this post after reading many a negative or depressing comment on a couple of these motherhood forums about various subjects that I do not want to get into individually in this post, but which made me feel sad for the negative depiction of motherhood that many women choose to communicate.

Being a mom is often a roller coaster ride. There are so many fun and thrilling parts, but, as with anything in life there are also jolts, sharp turns, and usually uncomfortable portions. (That "as with anything in life" part is important--I'll come back to it).

I have my fair share of challenging days in mommy-hood. Unless excessive screaming, crying, gigantic messes, bodily fluids, and not being listened to leave you feeling calm, patient, or invigorated, hard days for the normal person are inevitable. Unfortunately, each of those things get to me, especially in large doses.

It's okay to have a bad day or two. It really is. It's okay to have a bad week even.

But when the complaining to others (and by others I'm mainly referring to other moms) becomes excessive, it just becomes annoying. It really does, and it puts an unfortunate and negative lens on motherhood that isn't entirely accurate. And then, when you--a complaining mother--stimulate that image, society believes you. Because society as a whole is not as intelligent as they may seem (or may not seem--you choose).

Why is motherhood so challenging? Is it because we as moms want to do it so well that there is pressure and stress to be the best we can be at it, and then there's the added pressure of comparing ourselves to the image of perfect motherhood we see portrayed around us? I think it is stressful because it is sacred. There is a weight of responsibility behind the act of creating a child. We know in our hearts the tremendous burden and sacrifice that it is to make and care for and raise a child. Then we let our doubts in our abilities as parents creep in and tell us we are doing a poor job. We aren't patient enough, fun enough, loving enough, happy enough, good enough. Those feelings are not of God. They are Satan's attack on mothers--shaming, degrading, demeaning us.

When I was pregnant with baby #1, there were so much advice being offered from several directions and I became frightened and felt overwhelmed by the confusing and often conflicting advice I was receiving. Do this; don't do this. If you do that your baby will become this; if you don't do this your baby will never whatever. It's okay to do this; under no circumstances should you do this. Plus, there were many, many things I had absolutely no idea about in relation to pregnancy, labor, delivery, motherhood, and I felt quite dumbfounded at the prospect of what was to come. Why would anyone want to become a mother if those things were true? I wondered.

But it's been about three years since the time I found out I was pregnant with Tenley. I have grown in more ways than one, especially in my understanding of my divine role as mother. The prospect seemed daunting to me at first (particularly the delivery part, which I feared most of all) but in the couple years that I've been a mother to two precious children, I have learned a few things. The biggest, maybe most important one of all is to TRUST YOURSELF.

That sounds silly but it's so important. You have maternal instincts. You must strive to be in tune with them and listen to them and trust them. YOU will know better than anyone else what your baby needs and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. I start with this nugget of wisdom, because my next suggestion is DO NOT TRUST EVERYTHING YOU HEAR FROM OTHER MOTHERS (myself included, though I am doing my best to be as honest and open with you as possible).

Mothers, no--women in general are funny. We think we know everything there is to know about a thing when we've had only a little taste of it. I, myself am guilty of this on many occasions. I have only been a mother to one daughter and one son, for two years and less. I may feel like an expert on what children of these ages are like, but I'm not. Many parents will do things quite differently with their own children and they will be just fine. But I hope (and pray and wish) that I am doing what's best for my own children. Sharing stories and advice is useful because it provides other mothers or moms-to-be with ideas or tactics, if you will, that they may not otherwise have thought of or been aware of. All good mothers are trying to choose the best for their children, and it's helpful to gain more knowledge about how we can do that for them.

But I feel that very rarely is excessive negativity conducive to teaching another mother. Isn't that what we want to do with other mothers, teach or instruct them? Guide them? Encourage them? I don't know how being told I'm never going to sleep well again gives me any boost of confidence or hope in the future. Especially when, surprise, surprise, SO MANY of the things I heard were wrong. They were plain wrong, and some inaccurate, but most just did not apply to me. To name a few:

  • For one thing, my children are mostly (and surprisingly) great sleepers. I feel very blessed in that regard. I actually sleep pretty well unless I stay up late or screw up my kids' schedules. 
  • Breastfeeding was a pain at first with BOTH babies (I thought by two I'd be an expert), but it was great when I got the hang of it and now I love and cherish it very much. 
  • We co-sleep with our babies and I love it! I don't have to get up at night, breastfeeding is convenient because they're right there by me, and most importantly, our babies are happy and I love snuggling and kissing them through the night. They are only little for a short time and I cherish that peaceful time together. 
  • Despite believing my child wouldn't dare try to get away with misbehaving (read: running screaming down the aisles of the grocery store or through the maze that is IKEA) with me for her mother, I was introduced to harsh reality (kind of like getting a cold bucket of water in the face) when I found out, Wow, children don't do exactly what their parents want them to when they want them to...even if you raise them "right." Fancy that. 
  • Feeding toddlers can be, and in my case has been very stressful. Tenley seems to like every food--but it depends on the situation and the day. She'll love one thing one day and have zero interest in it the next. On the other hand, she'll refuse to try something and then eat a plate of it when she sees another kid eating it. I'm constantly worrying about her getting the nutrients she needs and I would tentatively say I have a choosy eater. 
  • Potty training--don't get me started. It's not a race, okay? The only part of it that is a race is racing to get your child out of diapers so you don't have to deal with that anymore. 

There are a lot of things (like these) that ended up being so different than what I was told they'd be like and I'm quite certain your children and experiences will be different than mine. (Hopefully, for your sake, your children sleep well, nurse easily, and your babies never throw a tantrum in public.)

I share these things with you, because it is important to me that future mothers understand that they don't have to be afraid. There will always be moments of fear in your life, whether you become a mother or not. And if you do become a mother, frightening, upsetting things will happen. Your heart will drop in anguish at your child's cries of fear or pain. Life is full of hardships and disappointments, regardless of what path you choose. One thing you can be sure of, life rarely goes according to plan. BUT (and this is a big but), I believe in a loving Heavenly Father who has planned for all of these things to work out for our good if we choose to use them to make us better. Like the joyful and positive LDS prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley stated when he was alive: "I am asking that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight."

No matter our life choices or circumstances, we can choose to seek out the negative or look toward the positive. Would there be no hard days for the mother who chose a career? Or for the woman who chooses not to become a mother? Absolutely not. Trials will come regardless of our decisions. We must decide how we will manage them, whether with a heart of positivity or the alternative. I choose to seek out the good and try my best to bring hope to women who are scared of what is to come in the journey of motherhood.

Finally, when you look at the conflicts in the world, motherhood is the least of our problems and probably one of the last things we should be complaining about. There are women whose hearts are aching to become mothers but have no opportunity, whether because they have remained single, cannot afford adoption or other means of having children, or because they are physically unable to. As touched on before, every one of us has bad days--difficult parenting days are unique to no one. But I think it is an unfortunate thing that society is satisfied to dwell so much on the negative when the joys are much sweeter. The task of motherhood will seem daunting to those who are venturing in, but I have confidence that you can do it.

I'm writing to tell you that motherhood is a wonderful thing. It is special and tender, messy and stressful, tiring and emotional, but above all, it is wonderful and important. Do not be afraid, young women, ladies, moms-to-be. You, like trillions of women before you, can do it. Have faith in yourself and be excited for what is to come. The immense joy you will experience will outweigh the fear and frustrations, I am sure of it!

Love from your mommy friend,

If you have questions, or want to share anything you felt while reading my thoughts, I'd absolutely love to hear from you:)


  1. i love the positive perspective!!! devin and i just watched "Friends with Kids" which is a hysterical comedy/commentary on people without kids' perspective on people WITH kids. like the "omg why would they bring a toddler to a nice restaurant" turns into "wow those people are trying to enjoy family time at a restaurant they used to always go to." i'm not sure i'm ready for that cold bucket of water to the face good thing it'll take a while till my kid is running from me down the aisles of target ;)

    1. Thanks, Julie! Haha k I want to watch that. It's so true though...I totally used to be like my kids will not scream in public. UGHHH there is no controlling them! I totally sympathize with moms having a difficult time (unless they don't seem to be caring about their child's behavior). Ugh and we used to bring Tenley to the movies and she was awesome, but now that she is an active toddler with a short attention span, we can't bring her. We made that mistake once...(luckily there were only like eight other people in the theater) and after we were like NEVER AGAIN. I love this hysterical video by Story of This Life:

  2. Thanks for this post! I love your perspective on motherhood, realistic but not negative. I'm soon going to be a mom to two under two and you make me excited for it :)

    1. Oh good, Courtney! I am so glad you liked this! That's awesome that you're having another baby soon! It's going to be so much fun! Messy, but fun!

  3. Thanks for letting me read this!! I'm so glad you said something. I love hearing people's perspectives. It's nice to hear that even among the bad and challenging days, motherhood is worth it and a good thing. I'm excited for my baby to get here so I can experience it!

    1. I know this is forever late, but thanks for your nice comment! I am not sure if you've had the baby yet, but congratulations! Being a mom is so much fun! You'll have so much pride in that little one you've made! I hope you are doing well, mama! :)


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