In an almost serendipitous way, my husband sent me a link to a very enlightening article just as I was typing a post about how motherhood really isn’t the stuff of fairy tales everyone makes it out to be. I was going on about how it isn’t puppies and rainbows most of the time, if at all. How exhausting, mentally as well as physically, it is to raise a stubborn, defiant toddler and how I didn’t think my life would be like this with a kid.
Most importantly, I was pondering writing about how I do not like being a mother. Don’t get me wrong, I love my son to death and I would kill and die for him but, truth be told, I do not like parenthood. I don’t believe, for one second, anyone who tells me they’d rather be changing dirty diapers, wiping up messes they didn’t make or trying to discipline a toddler (or at least stop him from causing you bodily injury), etc than be spending time doing the things they really like to do. I’m willing to bet just about anything that there are millions of mothers out there who feel this way but are too ashamed to say it because they feel it makes them bad mothers. Society has created a set of rules, standards, and beliefs about what it SHOULD be like to be a mother, what a woman’s life SHOULD be like after children, how a woman SHOULD feel towards her children from the minute they are born, etc and anyone who does not fall within those standards is immediately labeled as a bad mother, a freak, a horrible person, etc. This is part of why post-partum depression, something I suffered (and I mean suffered), has such a stigma attached to it.
I don’t think wanting to have a life outside of motherhood, NOT wanting your life to be defined by your choice in reproduction matters, and NOT wanting to become So and So’s mother (after all, you DO have a name) makes anyone a horrible mother. Not feeding your children, hurting them, abusing them, allowing others to abuse them, etc DOES make you a bad mother. Things are not black and white. Mothering is not my strongest suit but I do not think of myself as a bad mother and I don’t think anyone who knows me does either. Would I rather be getting a pedicure instead of chasing a 22 month old to change his diaper? You bet. Would I rather go on a lunch date with my girlfriends (if I had any) instead of on a playdate? Yup. Would I rather go on an exotic romantic vacation instead of a toddler friendly, chaotic one? Yup, that too. Does that make me a selfish, bad mother? No, it makes me human.
Anyhow, I’m glad I read this article. It made me feel immensely less shitty about not loving being a mother despite loving my son. My favorite quote from the article is that “[children] are a huge source of joy, but they turn every other source of joy to shit.” I laughed out loud when I read that.