My daughter is only one and a half, so I have many many years before I have “the talk” with her. You know, the dreaded, anxiety ridden, sex talk in which I’ll have to explain how babies are made. I’ll have to follow up with stories of motherhood and like many mothers, we can’t help but to repeat our pregnancy or birth stories over and over. And as the years pass, we tend to focus on the best parts, the amazing memories of motherhood and pregnancy. Most moms reminisce about the feelings associated with those first kicks, the funny cravings, and the first time we held our babies. We tend to down play the morning sickness, the pain, the fear, anxiety, and stress that also comes along with pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. We tend to say things like “it was hard, but it was all worth it in the end,” or “being a mom is tough but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”My entire life, before becoming a mom, I was told cliche things just like that about motherhood. Things like “It was the most difficult job, yet the most rewarding.” When you hear things like that, it sounds amazing. It sounds kind of easy. Sure, I’ll be tired and my life will be different, but I’ll always be happy because I’ll have my sweet child, I thought. That’s what I took away from these sayings. But now I know it’s really not that simple. We’re selling ourselves short by summing up motherhood in these over simplified, sugar-coated, sayings. And worst of all, we’re not preparing our daughters for motherhood, real motherhood at least.
One day I’ll have a talk with my daughter and I want to be brutally honest. I don’t want to scare her out of becoming a mother but I don’t want to romanticize motherhood either. I want her to know that I wanted to be a mother but honestly, I hadn’t really known what that entailed. The images in the media, like movies and television, are not accurate examples of motherhood and not the way she should anticipate motherhood to be. Celebrities and social media users only share the happy moments as well. I want her to know that motherhood is life changing, and these changes are not alway easy or desired. After becoming a mom most women will be different both physically and mentally.
Sleep isn’t the only thing you loose out on when you become a mother. You can feel like you’re losing your identity, your mind, and you will lose your patience. You will lose friends and most of your social life. And though you’re over the moon about being a mother, you are also overwhelmed and anxious. I want my daughter to know, it’s not just “bad mothers” who suffer from postpartum depression or have thoughts of regret. And you’re not a bad mother if some of the changes that come along with motherhood sometimes make you sad.
Why is it so important for me to show this side of motherhood? Because I myself had a very unrealistic expectation of motherhood and it made me unhappy for quite a while. Had I known that it was normal and even very common to feel some of these emotions, the anxiety the uneasiness, I would’ve tried to seek help much sooner or at least I would’ve stopped beating myself up about it. But, since I thought motherhood was supposed to be “hard but worth it” I thought I had to suffer through these feelings and emotions because that’s what “good moms” did.
I don’t regret having my daughter and that’s not the message I’m trying to convey, but I want her to know, good moms have it rough. One day if she decides to become a mom, I want her to know that asking for help is necessary for her survival and it doesn’t make her less of a mom. I had tried to do it all. I tried to breastfeed, pump, make homemade baby food, cook, clean, and keep up with everyone around me, all on 3-4 hours of sleep. I was ashamed to ask for help. I was embarrassed to admit I had trouble keeping up with life in general. I felt terrible that I didn’t enjoy every single moment. After all, weren’t other mothers able to do the same? Didn’t moms for many generations some how get it all done on their own? I thought motherhood was supposed to be easy, and if it was difficult it only meant I was a terrible mom. But I couldn’t keep up and I felt like a failure.
I want my daughter to know that I was not perfect, despite all the of photos she will see of us laughing and cuddling. I questioned if I was good enough and sometimes I wasn’t good enough. Sometimes I had to take a “mom break” because it’s not all amazing. It’s scary. Yes, it’s all worth it but it’s a long and painful journey before you get to that point. Pregnancy is beautiful but it’s terrifying. The nausea, the endless tests and sonograms, the doctor appointments and the anxiety is a lot to handle. Childbirth is different for everyone and you never know what will happen. And motherhood, never gets easier, you just try your best to adjust. And even a year in, I’m still adjusting. I still haven’t been able to come up for air.
But now I know, it’s okay to ask for help, to not be perfect, and that real moms have a very tough job. It’s okay to admit that it was nothing like you expected and that it’s sometimes too much, because that’s motherhood, honestly and uncut.