This feeling arises when I least expect it.
It’s dependent on many factors; how I’m feeling that day, how the kids are behaving, if everyone’s slept through the night, how busy I am with work or how busy they are with activities. I can’t predict when I’ll hate being a mom, but I can predict I will hate it at times.
I remember the first time I did. My eldest daughter was about four months old. All I wanted to do was shower but she didn’t want me to, so I clipped her into her bouncy seat, brought her in the bathroom and showered while she screamed.
“I hate this,” I thought. “I love her, but I hate this, being a mom. I’m completely responsible 24-7 for this other person with no reprieve. What about me? How selfish am I? I just want to ‘do’ me sometimes, is that so wrong?”
These feelings have strengthened in intensity and frequency over the past eight years, because like every parent, I didn’t know this was how it was going to be. I wasn’t prepared for this, not to mention there’s no one who can teach you how to take care of another human life; you have to teach yourself.
I didn’t know there would be days I would want to quit because, although motherhood is a blessing, it’s also a job. There’s no job description or responsibility chart to consult prior to employment. You have absolutely no idea what to expect and if you don’t like it, that’s too bad because this is the one job you can’t quit, even if you try.
When you become a parent, you become the boss of unruly employees who think they’re your boss and live to test your patience and your sanity. They will threaten to fire you because you didn’t give them another cookie, or you took away their favorite toy because they hit their sister.
The part of the job I didn’t know I would resent the most is not all of the above, plus the lack of sleep, the attacks of poop and vomit, the vein baby/souvenir of childbirth known as the hemorrhoid, or the hearing loss from the blood curdling tantrums, nope—it’s the ‘I didn’t know I could love someone this much it hurts and consumes my every thought’ part.
When they hurt, I hurt. When they suffer, I suffer.
Whether they are with me, at school or with their dad on the weekends, I think about them constantly. I worry about their every need. I feel guilty I’m not doing enough or I feel guilty for doing too much.
I hate how my happiness is dependent on their happiness, and their happiness is dependent on mine. To be this intertwined with another, to carry the weight of this responsibility—I cherish it, but I also hate it.
Sometimes, they make me want to jump out of the moving car and/or I fantasize about throwing them out of the car (even though I never would) and sometimes, I love them so much, I want to eat them so I can digest the love I feel for them.
Either way, whether they drive me insane in good way or in a bad way sometimes, it’s just too much, it’s overwhelming and I find myself hating it. Especially now that everything has changed since I’ve found something, myself.
Most of us become mothers before we become ourselves. We don’t grow into our minds, hearts or bodies until our thirties when we’ve already been parenting for years.
Here we are, finally falling in love with ourselves, discovering our purpose and passion in life, but it has to wait because we have to find the yellow crayon someone was using even though there are three more in the container, and someone else is crying because they just wanted one more yogurt squeeze.
Discovering your purpose when you have children is like buying a brand new sports car you’re only allowed to drive in the driveway (unless you occasionally sneak out to the racetrack knowing you will face a consequence when you return).
I know, because I’m this mom—the mom who found her calling and tries relentlessly to do it all and avoid the consequences. I try to ignore the exhaustion, frustration and trailer of guilt, but I can’t. I always end up in a fishtail of resentment.
I feel like I’m failing as a mother most of the time and I’m not succeeding as myself either.
I feel selfish for opening a second studio and teaching. There are many nights I feel disgusted with myself because I’d rather be writing in my room than sitting with my daughters while they play.
I find myself at an impasse frequently, as though the standoff must end at some point and one must surrender to the other—me or motherhood? Do I need to fail at one to succeed at the other?
When I consider this, I know without a doubt I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone else’s. I love my children not just because they are my children; I genuinely appreciate and love them as the people they have become.
However, I would be lying if I didn’t admit sometimes, I wish they would disappear—transported to a safe, loving planet where Mary Poppins clones await, holding trays of fresh baked cookies made of spinach (but that taste like chocolate chips). A place where rainbow looms grow from trees and a shortage of rubber bands doesn’t exist. Where an endless table of arts and crafts sits eager to be destroyed with glue, paint and eraser debris I don’t have to clean up. A place they can go so I don’t have the burden of worry. I could let go of the responsibility and just ‘do’ me for a bit.
I’ve wondered (often), what would it be like if I wasn’t a mother?
I could sleep until seven a.m. without the poke of my cheek at three a.m., “Mom, can I go watch cartoons? Can I pee in your bathroom? Can I have cheerios? I had a nightmare mommy, a giant fly punched me in the nose, will you get him out of my room?” I could sleep through it all and wake up well rested without the need for a caffeine boost.
I could write at all hours of the day, skip breakfast, or lunch or dinner if I wanted to. I could teach yoga classes without having to consult the school schedule, or give all of the earnings from the class I taught to the babysitter I hired so I could go teach the class.
I could make it through the grocery store without finding three packages of Oreo cookies hidden at the bottom of my cart.
I could have the luxury of assuming whining was a condition listed on the DSM-IV, not the daily vocal tone of a five year old girl. I certainly wouldn’t know the torturous experience of being caught in the middle of Target, as they decide to throw a tantrum because I wouldn’t buy them the Hello Kitty stickers from the $1 bin.
I could pee without someone barreling into the bathroom with her American Doll, “Mom, you have to put this heart necklace on Donna right now, she can’t go out without it. Please, now, now!”
I wouldn’t feel guilty for ignoring the PTO or volunteer emails from their school because I don’t want to help. I’d rather work, write or teach so when I do get my kids at the end of the day, I feel like I’ve accomplished something important and I don’t ‘hate being a mom’ when I’m inundated with back packs, boo boos, smelly shoes filled with sand, and a to do list that never seems to end.
I wouldn’t get stomach aches worrying about them being bullied by that girl at school, or the deep ache in my heart I feel when they have an ear infection and there is nothing I can do to make it better.
It would be easier without the responsibility, but I would miss them and I would miss me too. Being responsible for another person was the catalyst that propelled me into self-realization.
I’ve become myself, because of them.
They’ve inspired my growth just as much as I’ve guided theirs. What I thought was a stalemate in life’s purpose, is actually a state of compromise and balance. I can’t do it all, but I can try to do my best with it all. I can be a mom and I can be myself.
Part of being myself is accepting my humanness—my thoughts of discontent, the guilt, the worry, the feelings of failure mixed with my desire to fulfill my dreams. All of these feelings are natural; they are a part of the job.
It’s ok that hate this job sometimes, how could I not? It’s the hardest job in the world that no one is ever prepared for. I just need to remember if I try my best, it is always enough. Sometimes, my best is a compromise between meeting their needs and honoring mine. Some nights, I will leave them to play on their own as I write in my room, because although they are my responsibility, I am my responsibility too. If I’m unhappy, they will be too, so being ‘selfish’ and taking my sports car to the track is the best thing I can do for all of us. It will inevitably make all of us happier.
My kids have been away with their dad this week and I’ve had the opportunity to just do me. I’ve been productive—fulfilling my purpose, but something’s missing, that feeling. I realize, I would rather know what it is like to hate being a mom sometimes, than not know what it’s like to hate it at all.
Right now, I’m craving the whining, the maple syrup spills in the morning, the juggle of my classes and my writings, because without it all, life is purposeless and so am I.
By Rebecca Lammersen
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Editor: Cat Beekmans
Photo: Courtesy of the Author / Pixoto