This post does not contain pictures of my daughter because I don’t want anyone to mistake my admitting that this is hard as me blaming her in any way shape or form for my feelings.
I have a friend who looks at me, smiles with a smile as big as her Starbucks cup, and asks “Isn’t being a mom great?” When we aren’t together in person, she’ll ask me via text after sending a cute picture of her son all dressed up and full of smiles. Without skipping a beat I will reply: “Yeah” or “Sure” But what I want to say is “Is that how you really feel or do you just say that because you think it’s what people want to hear?”
Because having my daughter is great, but being a mom is not. Not yet, at least.
I know I’m not alone in the exhaustion of being a mom. And, as weird as this sounds, I know I’m not alone in the loneliness of being a mom. But no one talks about it. No one talks about how much this sucks. Well, I have to. I just need to be honest. This is hard. It’s good, amazing, rewarding, but like anything worthwhile, it’s challenging.
Why don’t people talk about it? Is it because we don’t want to look like we aren’t put together? Because we don’t want to look like bad moms? Is it because everyone has their life so perfectly curated on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest that we think we’re in the minority? Is it because we don’t want people to think we think we made a mistake, or have any regrets? I think all of the above. The other night I was crying to my husband about all of this. I was so tired, so exhausted, and I was begging for more appreciation, for him to tell me I was doing a good job, for him to see me and what I was doing to keep it together. His reply was “What, do you just want to give her back?” A light went off, this is why people don’t talk about this. He totally missed the point that I think so many people do. I can hate everything about motherhood without having one single regret, and I can hate everything about motherhood with a heart bursting full of love and care for my daughter. I can feel those things at the same time.
I haven’t had a full night of sleep in a year. Between the “morning” sickness, the peeing, the anxiety, the uncomfortable pelvic pain, the kicking, the eventual baby and late night feedings, I haven’t had a good night’s rest for a year. A year. There is absolutely nothing to like about that. There is nothing to appreciate about it, no way to twist it. I can hate everything about that while still loving everything about my daughter.
Here was my night last night:
- 4:15PM At work, realize I missed my last pumping session because I was so wrapped up in a project. I’m full and I’m sore.
- 4:20PM Finish project, decide to pump for ten minutes to relieve pressure
- 4:45PM Leave work
- 5:15PM Pick up dinner on the way home
- 5:30PM Get home, immediately start nursing my daughter
- 5:35PM Nurse in one hand, try to eat with the other hand
- 6:00PM Wrap up eating, wrap up nursing, play with baby
- 6:15PM Baby is drooling and gnawing at my dry-clean only sweater that I haven’t had time to change out of, a small price to pay for having such an adorable kid
- 6:30PM Put baby in exersaucer while husband watches her, change, give love to dog, try to catch my breath
- 6:45PM Baby is fussing with husband, I get her back. Nurse a little, she falls asleep/rubs her eyes
- 7:00PM I bring her upstairs to go to bed
When I brought her upstairs, she did what she does: fall asleep nursing, freak out when I try to move her, fall asleep as soon as I pick her up, wake up screaming if I try to put her down. It’s an exhausting routine that I’m thankful I have the opportunity to complain about, but still.
This is my night every night now. I go home, I nurse, I play with her, I get maximum fifteen minutes to change/go to the bathroom/sit by myself before I have a baby in my arms again. Every night I’m in bed between 7:00PM and 8:00PM, alone, in the dark, nursing. Usually I have my phone, I’ll text, check social media, etc, but I have to be careful to not wake her. It has to be silent, and the screen must be dimmed. I’ll try to move her to her pack’n’play after she falls asleep. She’ll cry. I’ll pick her up, we’ll start again. The two of us.
I can hate those nights. I can cry, beg, and plead for more sleep and appreciation while still loving my daughter and looking at her with zero regrets. I can tell people that being a mom isn’t the greatest, while still being a great mom. We all can do that. We can hate every minute of the nighttime routine while still loving our child, and being considered nothing less than a good mom.
I’m a good mom because when she calls, I answer. And as her mom, I am her answer to everything. Every night when she wakes up, it’s me she’s screaming for. It is me she will find above her, promising her it will be okay. It is me that will nurse her back to sleep. It. Is. Me.
While my husband is able to enjoy his evenings on the couch watching tv, snacking, and hanging out with the dog, (damn you, breasts!) I sit alone in the dark with a baby sucking on my boob and scratching my face. I concentrate and try to read her cues, try to figure out if I have a chance to move her peacefully. Maybe she’s fussy because she needs to be changed, but didn’t I just change her? Is she uncomfortable? Maybe I should hold her this way. Maybe she wants the other breast. Maybe if I rock her she’ll sleep. Maybe she isn’t tired, am I imagining it? It’s physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting being a mom, at least for me. And that does not/should not mean I am any less of a mom because I’m honest enough to admit it.
I love my daughter, she is the most amazing thing to ever happen to me, and I would have her over and over and over and over again, but I’m tired. I want a nap. I want a hotel with room service and a remote I can control. I want a husband who looks at me and gets it. I want a hug and a pat on the head. I want to be seen.
Just because women give birth every day doesn’t make it any less exhausting, painful, and miraculous. The fact that it’s such a common occurrence doesn’t mean it should be appreciated any less. I don’t want some special crown, but I want to be appreciated and for it to be acknowledged that I’m still not over it. I don’t want to be pressured to be this perfect, happy mom that has everything together or loves every sleep-deprived, unappreciated minute that goes by. I want to ask my friends “doesn’t being a mom suck?” with the same enthusiasm my friend asks “isn’t being a mom great?” I want people to get it.
So here it is.
Whether or not you want to hear it: I’m not over the anxiety of my last trimester. I’m not over the alien vs. predator act of giving birth. My brain has not caught up, my heart has not healed, my blood pressure has not returned to normal. My daughter is amazing, cuddly, and mine, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a year, my nipples are worn out, and my entire last trimester of pregnancy was spent wondering if this headache meant I was about to stroke out or not. I have the same bedtime as my five month old daughter because she can’t seem to sleep without me. I feel alone. I feel isolated. These feelings are the result of decisions that I have made – to be a mom, to nurse, to nurse her to sleep, to pick her up every time she cries, to nurse her on demand, to rock her to peace, to not pull my hand away when she holds it at night, etc. And guess what? These are decisions I stand by. These are decisions I do not regret. That doesn’t mean they don’t suck for me sometimes, and I’m not any less of a mom for admitting that.