Monday was a day, ya know what I mean? We were all sleep deprived from a lively weekend that included desserts and late bedtimes. By noon I was ready to run away. William convinced me to stick around but things didn’t improve. One kid threatened to run away himself, one kid said the only person in the world who isn’t stupid is my husband, and another refused to do his school work. I posted something on social media about feeling slighted in not receiving the appropriate motherhood orientation and the response was overwhelming. You guys, there’s a whole tribe of us struggling through this thing alone. And we shouldn’t be.
Motherhood is damn hard. Like, the hardest thing E V E R. And since I feel like no one told me this, I’ve decided to compile a list of What No One Told Me About Motherhood, and by me, I mean the collective internets. (Shout out to all my awesome social media friends for this wisdom, and for taking the time to share it.)
As someone said on Instagram, support groups for moms should be a daily thing. And they should. So without further ado:
#1: Self-regulation is your biggest challenge.
Controlling your own emotions in the face of a tiny tantrumming human is a learned skill. I’m still learning it. Why is this so hard? <— not a rhetorical question. Seriously, why?
Speaking of emotions, as a mother, you now hove zero control over your emotional availability. These people assume you are available all. the. time. Someone on Instagram described this as introvert hell.
#2: Some children think they do not need you.
At all. They will threaten to run away and tell you all about how much they do not need a mother. But you will have to go on caring for their needy little mother-dependent selves. This will make you want to cuss and stop feeding them, but you can’t BECAUSE THEY NEED A MOTHER.
#3: Some kids have mental illnesses.
And you can pray and medicate and counsel and anoint them with oil… But they still have mental illnesses. And that’s just hard. For everyone.
#4: There will be days that feel hopeless.
You will come to the end of yourself and tell your husband you don’t know how to keep mothering, and it will only be noon. No other job description on the planet is as difficult.
And there’s no end in sight. Until there is and I hear it gets worse. (See #21)
#5: You may never sleep again.
My youngest kid is almost four, and still wakes up in the middle of the night expecting it to be day. I have no idea when this stops, but I imagine it will be around the time my oldest starts going out with his friends and missing his curfew. Just a guess.
#6: You will compare yourself to other mothers and question everything you do for your kids.
#7: Loving your kids is a choice.
And sometimes choosing it is hard. I know, I know, you can’t imagine it. Maybe you aren’t a mom yet or your hard is being a human pacifier and dodging blow-out diapers. Pin this for later Dear One.
#8: They are who they are.
Your job is not to change them. Also, you can’t. Their temperament is God given. It’s hard-wired. Character changes, temperament does not… no matter what you do. Your job is to call forth who God made them to be. At the end of the road, you only have control over yourself. (And trust me, that’s enough.)
#9: Kids can be @ssholes.
My Instagram friend Davi said it, not me. But for the record, she’s right. Also, so can I.
#10: There is some ugly junk in your heart.
And it will come out. At exactly the moment you need to extend grace, you will not. At exactly the moment you need to extend patience, you will not. At exactly the moment your children need to see Jesus in you, they will see your sin.
The scariest part is, that ugly junk was in there all along. It is not a side affect of pregnancy or adoption hormones, it’s a symptom of a sinful heart and frankly it has nothing to do with them.
#11: What works for one child does not necessarily work for another.
Why is this? Oh, that’s right, because they’re humans.
#12: Mama’s don’t get sick days.
AND you may be sick and taking care of everyone else while they are also sick… The days of staying in bed and having someone take care of you are over sister.
#13: If someone messes with your kid, you might kill them.
You just might. Don’t ask me how I know.
#14: We are bearing burdens for our kids as part of growing them to be able to handle their own burdens later.
We can handle life being too hard (sort of, see #1), but our kids can’t. The challenge is we have to bear their burdens AND ours, without sleep.
#15: You won’t be satisfied with just being “Mama.”
Bad news, you will struggle with identity. You will want to be something way more glamorous, rewarding, and gratifying than “Mama.” You will be frustrated by how much Mama-ing demands of you and how little there is left for sexier ventures.
Good news, you are not going to find your value in motherhood, because it was never meant to satisfy the way Eternity will. Consider this your Pass on wearing the “Contented Mother” mask. Motherhood will not fulfill you because earthly relationships were never meant to fulfill. You can bear your kids’ burdens and do this in-the-trenches work with freedom (read: not perfectly) because you are not enslaved to or dependent on it defining you. (And THAT is dang good news.)
#16: Motherhood might not happen as soon as you thought, or at all.
#17: You might not be naturally good at it.
Most of us are not naturally self-less. We just aren’t.
#18: Your heart will ache for them.
When others are mean, when their decisions have painful consequences, when hard is hard… Your heart will break right there outside of your body.
#19: Guilt and shame and fear of failure will be near constant.
Guilt and shame and fear will follow you around and threaten to steal every moment of joy. You will need to daily remind Satan that you are not his gal and where to shove his guilt, shame and fear.
#20: Nothing is more sanctifying.
#21: It gets harder… and the stakes get higher.
I have to admit, when my friend Julie left this comment on Facebook, I wanted to throw my hands over my eyes and scream NO! NO!, but then I was grateful for her honesty. And I won’t be able to say no one told me…
#22: You will never pee alone again.
Or, at least for a very long time.
#23: You are not alone.
You are NOT the only one who doesn’t have lovey dovey feelings about your kid or your role as mom all the time. I don’t know why we don’t talk about this more, but we don’t. I suppose this post is an effort to change that.
It takes a village to raise a mother.
Sometimes, being honest and encouraging feel like opposing actions. I don’t think they are. I think honesty is encouraging. I think sometimes the most encouraging we can be is to just be real.
I hope this collective wisdom from the internet gives you the courage and permission you need to be real about motherhood. That way the mamas behind us can’t say we didn’t tell them…
What’s something no one told you about being a mother?