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About that motherhood thing . . . . June 29, 2009

Posted by Judy in Musings.
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I’m two years into this motherhood thing, and I’d say I’m completely flummoxed 50% of the time, frustrated 40% of the time and feel-like-things-are-going-well the other 10%. Shouldn’t that last category have a higher number? Maybe, but maybe not. For a long time I thought that the PPD was making me feel flummoxed, frustrated and not at all put together. But, now that the fog has lifted for 4 months, I know that it’s not the PPD talking. Rather, these feelings are part of the motherhood landscape, and the feelings are fairly universal. I’m sure it seems bold to say that ALL moms experience this to one degree or another. Maybe it is bold, but it’s also true.

So why isn’t this part of the normal motherhood dialogue? Why do moms feel like they have to lie and say “Oh yeah, it’s going great! We are a happy little family!”, when really they barely made it out the door that morning? For some reason, society has made it taboo to be honest about your feelings on motherhood. I’m reminded of an Oprah show that aired about 4 years ago. She had lots of moms on talking about motherhood, and most of them expressed in one way or another, “some days, motherhood sucks.” Boy, was there a backlash! About a week later, Oprah had a follow up show where she talked to moms who felt the moms from the first show were terrible and had no business being moms and how could they say things like that. At that point, I wasn’t a mother, so I found this discussion very interesting and could merit in pieces of each viewpoint. Now that I am a mother, I think that the “follow up” moms were lying to themselves and not allowing themselves to be honest. In their defense, they’d been conditioned, by society, to think that only positive feelings about motherhood should be expressed, all others are invalid and unacceptable.

That ideaology just needs to change. As moms, we do ourselves AND OUR FAMILIES a disservice by not being honest. In the same breath, I’ll say that it’s hard to be honest because oftentimes there isn’t anyone with whom we can share that honesty. If you read my post about PPD, you’ll know that I feel that not enough people talk openly and candidly about PPD. I feel the same way about motherhood . . . . people just aren’t forthcoming with their true emotions. So rather than mommies reaching out and helping each other, we put up this ridiculous facade and we end up suffering on our own. And, I might add, inadvertently creating stress in the family.

I obviously can’t change how other people think, feel and react, but I can change myself.  Over the past four months, my “mommyness” has undergone an overhaul.  I’m still learning and changing, but I feel much better about the journey that I’m taking.  I can attribute this to several things:

1-  My post about PPD really helped me organize some of my thoughts and got me thinking of ways that I could improve my current situation (which was “I hate everything and being a mom is overrated!”) In addition, I was motivated to get some books from the library about motherhood. That post also elicited an “oh my goodness, that post totally resonated with me!” response from my friend, Julie. This was so important because it confirmed my thought that I wasn’t the only one on the planet feeling the way I was.
2 – Reading books on motherhood. The first book I read was “In Praise of Stay-at-home-moms” by Dr. Laura. Now, I’m not a fan of her radio show. I think her rhetoric is unnecessarily caustic, which is a shame since she has some good things to say. Enter . . her books. You can get the point and when you’ve had enough of her rhetoric, you set the book down, take a break, and come back later. With her books, you can get the point without the “you’re an idiot!” voice beating you over the head. But I digress. So back to the book. Actually, maybe I’ll put my thoughts on that book in a separate post. Suffice it to say that I felt very validated by reading that book and it helped me to see SAHM-dom in a different, more positive light.
The second book is “I was a really good mom before I had kids” by Alicia Noble and Trisha Ainsworth. I’m only one chapter in, but already, I can tell that it’s going to be a good and encouraging read. They also feel that moms are just not being honest with themselves because society hasn’t allowed them to do so. They also talk about how surprisingly difficult it is to be a mother. Why is it so surprising, given that you always hear, “Motherhood is the toughest job on the planet. You have to be psychologist, chauffer, chef, medic, etc.” I’m thinking we are blindsided by motherhood because we’ve heard these statements so much, that they almost have no meaning. Furthermore, the picture of motherhood presented by society doesn’t actually show us the complete picture of motherhood, so even if the statements had meaning, we’d have no incentive to believe said statements due to lack of evidence!

So where am I? I feel a bit like I’m rambling, which I probably am! I just have so many jumbled thoughts on this whole motherhood thing. But you know what, so does everyone else. So how about we get out there and start talking about motherhood — the raw, uncut, unedited version — and dejumblify (like my new word=)) our thoughts and start shifting the paradigm. Who’s with me?

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