I used to volunteer with a youth group. And occasionally I would just be hanging out with the young women of this group and I would feel the need to lay some truth down. One day these young ladies were discussing another teenager who had a baby, and how cute the baby was and that they wanted to go buy this baby a cute outfit.
And after the danger of aneurysm had passed, I emphatically told these young ladies the following truths:
- Babies will ruin your life
- Babies may appear cute, but they are not
- Babies will ruin your life
After this particular
rant, talk, the teens seem rather shocked. Probably because I was the mother to an adorable 9-month old who I had raised since she was 5 days old in the NICU. She was my foster child, but she was my child in every other way. I loved her like nothing else in this world.
And yet I could honestly tell these young women those truths listed above. Because they are true. I further explained to my shocked teens that to really understand what it means to be a parent you have to imagine your current life ending. Over, done, no more. Not in the death sense, but in that nothing ever of your old life will remain the same. Certain elements may appear the same, but they are now seen through the lens of parenthood.
I also wanted to impart to them that yes I love my child, but that yes, it is okay to admit that being a parent can really suck sometimes. It’s not all kittens and rainbows and special Instagram photos. It’s diapers and crying and puking, good lord the puking! It’s days when you are convinced that your kid is a grade-A jerk.
And you know what makes being a mom even harder? Other Moms. Other Mom’s who feel the same way but don’t talk about it, like a comment Janelle, of Renegade Mothering, got from a reader:
“Lots of mum’s think this but no one actually says it.”
This is dangerous writes Janelle, in response to this comment:
Though many mothers experience the struggles you talk about, think and feel the same way, they have internalized the societal expectation that they SILENCE themselves for the good of their children…But check this out, my friend: How is dishonesty and lying and the perpetuation of misogynistic expectations GOOD for my kids?
Now throw in the ALI (Adoption/Loss/Infertility) lens. After struggling to have a child for so long how many of you are afraid to ever voice frustration, concern, disappointment, or even anger about your children? Because we, of ALL people, we should just be SO GRATEFUL to finally have our child that nothing else matters. And society enforces this expectation.
I remember when Stella was a few months old I was just SO exhausted. We were still having to nurse every two hours due to her weight gain issues and unbeknownst to me at that time I was suffering from hypothyroidism, low thyroid function. I felt like walking death. I made a comment about it on Facebook, how I just needed the baby to sleep so I could sleep. And I got two comments from friends basically amounting to I should just be grateful after finally getting my miracle child.
What if I was PPD (postpartum depression)? What if that was my one way of reaching out for help? We live in an ever digitized and segmented society. Often our internet interactions are our only way of reaching out, venting, blowing off steam. And two “friends” just told me to choke it down and shut up. What if someone had instead said ‘hey, I know new Moms are always exhausted, but this seems like more than just that, have you checked in with your doctor to make sure you’re healthy?’ I don’t know if that would have helped me get my thyroid issues diagnosed faster, but it would have helped me feel better. To know that I wasn’t alone, and that someone cared about my well-being, not just my baby’s.
This trend is dangerous, we need to talk as Moms. I would say especially ALI Moms because it has been proven that ALI Moms have a much higher risk of PPD or PAD (post adoption depression). And we need to talk to show our kids that life isn’t always unicorns and lucky charms. That creates kids who don’t know what reality is, that don’t know how to handle sadness and anger and disappointment. And it creates daughters who grow up thinking they can’t talk about it, who become Moms. And that is terrifying.
Stella will always know how much I love her, how much I wanted her. But she will also hear the stories of how tired I was, how she wouldn’t nap except on me or her Dad for a month straight, how sometimes I was so tired I would just lay on the floor where she was playing and talk to her, and she would mimic me by laying down too (which is hilarious).
Infertility and Motherhood do not mean we cease to exist. Check out Janelle’s honest and inspiring post, there is so much more that she writes that is spot on and needed to be said:
Comments here are closed so you can join in the conversation at Janelle’s blog, Renegade Mothering.
*Janelle, of Renegade Mother, retains all rights to her original content material. None of her material may be copied or otherwise transferred without her express permission.
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Chandra is a Mom and Foster Mom. She holds a Master’s degree in Theology and is particularly interested in the theology of infertility. Chandra grew up in the Northeast but she and her husband are raising their daughter in the middle-of-nowhere Indiana. She has 3 chickens that drive her crazy, a huge garden, and a penchant for bacon. She occasionally attempts to make sense of all those things, and more, over at her blog, MetholicBlog. She also shares embarrassing stories about her husband and unicorns.