You know, once a year we see all these commercials and sappy cards about how much mom means to us. And I do buy into it – I think the mother/child bond is a pretty strong one – stronger in most cases than the father/child bond. (Don’t get me wrong – I think dads are just as important for kids as moms, and I don’t ever want to imply that all moms are better than all dads at the whole parenting thing. I am generalizing because this is Mother’s Day so forgive me. )
What gets me is that it’s a holiday that seems to say Wow, mom – it must be hard raising kids – thanks for being so graceful at it! The truth is, I don’t know anyone who feels very graceful at it. And I think the hard work involved gets kind of glossed over in the name of making us feel like a crappy card and some flowers once a year makes up for all the pain & sacrifice. And since we already know all the reasons why motherhood is worth it, I’d like to make up a list of some of the more painful truths of motherhood that not everyone may realize (hello fathers/husbands – listen up!):
Your body gets weird. Losing the weight from having babies is HARD. And unless you’ve got the money or support to get childcare and a gym membership/personal trainer/weight set to rebuild your muscle tone…..well you’re going to be all lumpy. And you will feel like your belly has become some sort of flabby empty pouch. And the boobs? Forget it. If you’re lucky, they’ll just sag a bit. Most of us end up with droopy skin sacks that look like they belong in National Geographic. Plus there’s stretch marks, and for many of us that nurse, the various bruises and welts that we will sport on our arms and chests from babies who like to squeeze and scratch while they eat. You also can’t count on getting a regular shower. So add sweaty, stinky and greasy to the list of how you feel.
Speaking of bodies….you lose your sex life. It’s hard to get intimate when you have a barnacle hanging off you all the time. Even when they’re not infants, most kids don’t understand the need for “personal space” or “private time”. Then there’s the sheer exhaustion. If all of this weren’t bad enough, many of us are insecure about our post – pregnancy bodies and don’t feel attractive enough (most men don’t seem to be bothered by our new bodies. They just want to get naked and get it on. The men that are bothered…well, they are immature jackasses and don’t deserve a baby mama). No sex equals a lot of tension in a relationship…but it doesn’t matter because you don’t have time for a relationship now anyway.
You can lose your sense of self. Your interests get subjugated to those of the family. (no, going out alone to get your hair done does not constitute “me time” anymore than managing an hour without the kids to buy groceries or do laundry does). You are, for better or worse, chained to creatures who don’t mind screaming and making a spectacle in public and will get in your way no matter what you try to do. Again, only people with money for nannies or fabulous husbands get regular “free time”. Even bathroom time is no longer sacred.
You spend great effort to clean/care for/ dress/ feed small people who will complain and fight you every step of the way. They don’t want to wear that adorable outfit from Gymboree that makes them look sweet. They want something garish and sparkly that doesn’t match, hasn’t been washed yet and most likely smells of pee. And just try to brush their hair.
They also don’t want any food you make. It’s gross. They don’t care if it’s good for them, if it’s your specialty, or even if you prepared it because you just knew they would love it. Just because they ate it at grandma’s doesn’t mean they’ll eat it at home. And if they do, it’ll stain that adorable outfit 3 seconds after you’ve gotten it on them.
Forget sleep. You’re on duty 24/7 now. You’ll spend most nights in an awkward position, one ear open and waiting for the sound of being needed. If you manage to nod off for a quick nap during the day you will encounter either your other child/ren making this almost impossible, a terrible crook in your neck, or your spouse remarking that you certainly don’t look overworked, what with all the snoring and drooling in front of the tv.
If you work outside your home, don’t think you’re getting off easy. You’re still going to come home and do all the housework and be mama all night. It’s sexist, it’s unfair….it’s unavoidable.
The house will never be clean again. Children are gross. When they’re not bringing home germs and parasites they are wreaking havoc on any sense of order you treasure. Books and toys scattered everywhere. Food spilled and smeared on the windows, couch, floor and door knobs. Crumbs and half – eaten apples under the beds. An explosion of laundry from which you’ll never satisfactorily recovery. And a nice little pair of poop stained undies sitting by the front door that you won’t notice until someone pays a visit.
Things you love will be ruined/broken. It’s gonna happen. Maybe it’s a cd, maybe it’s your necklace. Maybe it’s your Kate Spade handbag. Protect what you can, and be prepared to lose something.
Your patience and strength of will are continually under assault. You will always be worried, and you will love them so much that sometimes it will hurt. Like right now, when my 8 month old sweetie Oona is saying “Mama” and giving me kisses. Looks like it’s payday.