Or, more accurately – love the kids always, love the job most of the time, but often resent several aspects of the job:
1. Constant tiredness. Being a parent is extremely draining! At the end of each day, I am so tired – I never felt that tired before becoming a mom. And lest you think I’m a freak, let me share a story with you. My late grandmother Eve was an amazing person – warm and loving, much more so than I’ll ever be. She loved children and adored us, her grandchildren.
But whenever one of her three daughters called with the amazing news that she was pregnant, grandma would start crying. “Why are you crying, mom?” they would ask, assuming her tears were tears of joy. The reply? Those were NOT tears of joy, but tears of sorrow for her beloved daughter that will now face all the challenges and difficulties of motherhood.
2. Guilt and self-doubt. I know I’m a good mom. But like most moms, I often feel guilty about small, daily things (“I was so busy, I hardly talked to my kids today!) and also about big life decisions, such as choosing to have a career. A real-life friend recently told me, over brunch, that she’s one of those rare moms who do not experience guilt – at all. She works hard, and she knows she does what’s best for her, for her family and for her kids. I always respected this woman, but now I respect her even more. Guilt is such a huge waste of time and energy. I still can’t help feeling it, almost daily.
3. Stress. Relates to the guilt – kids have the ability to give us so much pleasure, but also cause so much stress and angst. Whether dealing with temper tantrums, the inherent ungratefulness of kids, or the famous motherly guilt, sometimes I think kids add to one’s life equal amounts of stress and pleasure. I remember reading an article, years ago, where scientists tried to measure happiness. I can’t remember everything the article said, but one thing that stuck with me was the claim that while having children changes a person’s life, it does not necessarily make them happier.
4. Worry. I worry a lot about my kids. I believe all moms worry to some extent, but of course those of us who tend to worry in general, worry even more. I worry about their health, about their social success at school, about their future. I worry about my own relationship with them and the many ways it will change as they grow. I worry a lot. 🙂
5. Pressure. There’s a lot of pressure on moms these days, and a lot of it comes from other moms, which is quite unfortunate. As long as we’re normal (not talking about cases of neglect or abuse of course), we’re all doing our best, and for the most part, at least from what I see around me, we’re doing a darn good job. But there’s so much pressure, so much criticism. Whatever choices you make as a mom (breastfeed or not, stay home or not, play with your kids or let them be, keep their diets “perfect” or allow them regular access to treats) – whatever you do, SOMEONE is going to think you’re a terrible mom and criticize you, openly or behind your back. Usually, it will be another mom.
Having said all of the above, I do love being a mom, and would not make different choices if I were given the chance. I will list the positive sides of parenting (as I see them) next week, so all you Mothering Police folks can relax.
In the photo: September 2005. Comforting my then 4-years-old daughter.