One of my favourite instagram accounts to follow lately is @happyasamother, which is run by Erica Djossa. In a recent post, Erica discusses something she calls “motherhood myths” and I think they’re also something worth writing about here because she better explains the point I was trying to make several months ago when I wrote about how many parts of being a mom suck. I also wrote that in the middle of Alberta’s shut-down when our day home was closed and I was trying to work from home; balancing competing expectations and responsibilities is hard! (The effect of this pandemic on moms could be a whole different post!)
Erica says that thinking you will enjoy every minute of motherhood is a myth that can be especially damaging to new moms: it definitely was damaging to me. Doing things right and well are really important to me, so when I felt alone and scared and unsure of what I was doing with a little baby, when I felt foggy and exhausted and isolated and just wanted one night of interrupted sleep more than anything else in the whole world, when I was giving this little person all of my love and energy and effort, but found this “new normal” to be difficult, I thought something really was inherently wrong with me. After all, I wanted to be a mom very much. Why wasn’t this easier?
To combat those very types of feelings, Erica writes that “Not loving the endless responsibilities of motherhood doesn’t mean you don’t love your child. Not enjoying duties does not equal not enjoying being a mom.” I wish I would’ve read those words two years ago. I know they would’ve made a huge difference. Even reading them a few months ago, those words made me feel so much better, especially because I had felt crappy about some of the pushback I got over my post “What Motherhood is Really About.” I love my son more than anything in the whole world. I love teaching him new things. I love reading together. I love our adventures outside. I love listening to his endless chatter. I love his questions. I love being a mom. Finding some parts of motherhood hard doesn’t make any of those other things any less true. It just makes me human.
And, I wish someone had been honest with me about this, and other “motherhood myths” – Erica debunks “breastfeeding comes naturally” and “motherly instincts always kick in” too – because I think I would’ve been more prepared and less blindsided. This is why I want to write and share about these ideas now; if someone else can read this, someone who is pregnant for the first time and doesn’t really know what to expect, I want them to know this:
You will love being a mom.
You will feel a love for their baby that’s strong and all encompassing.
You will also cry out of frustration.
You will also get tired of being woken up every few hours.
You will be puked on. And when you change your shirt, you will inevitably get puked on again. This never stops being gross.
You will get grouchy. And stressed.
But that’s okay. That can be repaired.
Because you love being a mom.
Because your love for your baby is strong and all encompassing.
Because you’re human.
And when you can accept that, happiness will follow.