It’s a widely accepted story that children are one of life’s biggest blessings. If you are a new parent, particularly a new mother, you may find this is the only narrative for your new life that others will want to acknowledge.
It very well may be that often this is what you prefer to talk about as well. It’s a given that we are strongly attached to our children, and often can’t imagine a life without them. Newborns DO have the sweetest smelling heads. They are frequently adorable. The feeling you get when they fall asleep on you, when they smile (even though it’s most likely from gas), when they laugh for the first time, when they first reach for you, when they say “mama”- it’s unmatched. It’s mindboggling to be someone else’s entire world when your own is much more expansive.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the joy were ever present? It would, but it isn’t. There are many other sides to being someone’s mother. So why are we discouraged from talking about the full picture?
You are allowed to notice the monotony, the isolation, the messiness, the relinquishing of control, the endless compromise. It’s healthy to talk about it. It doesn’t make you ungrateful, and I know it is made very clear that when you are a mother, you are to be grateful. You are supposed to exude gratitude, even on the days you haven’t showered or eaten an actual meal. You are to be grateful for the poop in your hair and the sour aroma of spit up that has soaked through your shirt. Selflessly nurturing and caring for others full time is an innate skill and what you were designed to do, right? Why aren’t you smiling?
You are human and nurturing is a learned skill. Your female body was not supposed to come with the unshakable capacity to sacrifice and only feel fulfillment in doing so. Like the rest of life, motherhood encompasses many experiences and many emotions. Why would we expect it to somehow be different?
When we allow ourselves and other parents to be honest about our full experience, we can begin to release ourselves from antiquated and unrealistic expectations.
Release yourself from the ideal of savoring every moment. Savor the joyous and tender moments, and let yourself feel the rest without shame. You are worthy of all your humanity. When you need help, ask for it. When you need a gentle ear, make it known, and be that accepting listener to someone else.
Here’s to parenthood in its fullness. We won’t question your gratitude or your worth, even on dreary days.