Finding the Strength: Being a Mom Is Hard
As moms, we don't get much acknowledgment or appreciation. Day in and day out we work hard to care for our families and our homes: cleaning, cooking, preparing, planning, educating and even disciplining. We not only have to keep everyone's world running smoothly in our homes, but we are responsible for the next generation. Many moms even have to work inside or outside of their homes on top of all of this just to pay the bills, not to mention all of the brave single moms and dads that have to be both parents.
Unfortunately, much of the world doesn't understand. I have heard it all, even from other women. I should be thankful that I get to stay at home, I should be grateful that I have it so easy, thankfully I don't have to work hard like my husband. I have even gotten the dreaded, "What have you been doing all day?"
I don't know which is more difficult to bear, the lack of support from your spouse and family, or the mom bashing. Just when you think your job can't get any more difficult, then you have people you care about not supporting you, or you have others that should understand calling you names, treating you down, and at the worst, threatening you. All you have to do is hop online to see how awful many moms are treating each other.
I remember being bullied endlessly for the first 6 months of my first child's life because I was apparently screwing up so badly in the other parent's eyes. Honestly, I just wasn't doing this like they would have. I just remember crying all the time and being so stressed. This isn't at all what we need. Moms need encouragement and support so bad.
To start with, most moms are seriously deprived of sleep. Children are a 24/7 job. There's no forgetting about them at night when it's time to go to sleep. Whether you are up handling nightmares, bathroom accidents, giving extra snuggles or glasses of water, caring for a sick child, or simply up worrying or praying for your kids, you don't get much sleep. This doesn't leave us super mentally, emotionally, or physically prepared for the responsibilities awaiting the next day.
Not only is your fuse short because you're tired, but parenting comes with a serious emotional burden as well. Most moms, I think I can say confidently, want the best for their kids. We are concerned with feeding them healthy food, caring for their educational needs, teaching manners and good qualities, and even taking care of their emotional needs. Just this emotional investment is exhausting, not to mention trying to keep the house clean, expenditures down and trying to take care of yourself.
Being a mom is also lonely. Obviously you are not literally alone, as you have one or more children physically in the house with you. But you are very much mentally and emotionally alone. Every mom deals with various issues, likely unique from one another, that she doesn't know confidently how to handle. Maybe it's another tantrum, or an illness, or a discipline issue you've been struggling with for months, or even just trying to get out of the house to get everyone some socialization.
On top of that, the only people you have to talk to all day either don't talk themselves, or you are telling to get the toy out of their butt. Many, if not all, moms have no intelligent conversation all day, and then don't feel less they can share their problems when they finally get it. Here's where that lack of support from a spouse, family and other moms comes into play.
I've been told from many individuals, even from my husband, "Isn't this what you wanted? You shouldn't have had kids if you didn't want them." Even when other adults are around, it feels like no one understands you, or is even trying. You feel all alone.
If you're a stay at home mom, you work hard all day, cleaning, feeding the kids, trying to challenge their minds without losing yours, and maybe you're trying to squeeze in naps and work from home as well. I've always loved using the saying, "Trying to clean up after kids is like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreos." It's futile. While you're picking up in one room, they are trashing another. And you still have the laundry, dishes, and regular cleaning to do, like the bathrooms.
Some days are better than others and you feel like you might be getting the hang of this parenting thing, and then your husband comes home from work late. The kids are cranky because they are tired, it's almost time for bed, and you're tired because you've been working hard for the last 12 hours, and you get criticized because the house isn't perfectly clean and the kids are being disrespectful.
Well, when he's gone during all of the better hours, he doesn't get to see the kids at their best. He sees them tired after a long day, and he wants to play. They're whiny and he complains that they need some discipline. Or even worse, he does exactly the things you've been trying to get them to stop doing, and allows them to do the same, like throwing balls in the house, or hitting someone in the face. You try to stop it and you're uptight. Really! Unfortunately I've heard the same exact story from many other frustrated, tired moms.
I can only imagine that being a mom also working a job outside of the home has it's own frustrations, and a unique set of criticisms from others that would go with it.
Without the sleep you need, the break you so desperately desire, the support that is so critical, and the understanding that you are working hard and doing your best, many moms fall into a deep depression. They are not appreciated or respected, and can't do anything right. No matter how much effort they put in, they are asked to do more, having to give up their own self-care to do it.
After days and weeks of tangled, matted hair, little sleep, crying kids, and no break, to be criticized, second guessed, or asked to go visit a mother in law that badgers you or is always disappointed in you, there aren't too many women that wouldn't crack. Unfortunately, all of this constant negatively steals a woman's joy, motivation, and sometimes even desire to go on.
Finding the Strength
Of course we want our children, and we love being mothers, but that doesn't mean we aren't human. Everyone needs and deserves to feel loved and appreciated. Everyone needs support, encouragement, and understanding from those around them. Withholding these from a mom is like asking us to live without water. How can we be expected to keep filling the cups of those around us when ours is empty?
But somehow you have to find the strength.
- Look into your children's eyes, soak up the sweet hugs and small kisses, and cherish the precious moments when you can cuddle up and read a book together, cook together, or even do a craft.
- Talk to your loved ones about how you feel. They need to know what the lack of understanding and support is doing to you and how it makes you feel.
- Find the time to take care of yourself. I know this is easier said than done. Maybe it's just getting yourself a hot cup of tea and taking a moment to savor it. Enjoy your favorite cookie, or make your favorite meal. Ask a friend, an older lady, or a babysitter to come watch your kids for 30 minutes so you can take a hot shower in peace, or for an hour so you can take a nap.
- Begin a hobby that you really enjoy. Maybe your kids can do it with you. I love cooking, canning and doing puzzles. Thankfully my kids do too. This is my stress relief.
- Try to find other moms that can relate to you. It's critical to your well-being to have other adults to talk to intelligently and to feel understood.
- Tell those that are criticizing you to keep their opinions to themselves. Their comments are not helpful. This may be a good time to decide if some people (or groups) are worth having in your life.
- Consider keeping a journal. At least you'd have somewhere to share your thoughts and feelings without judgment. This can be very therapeutic and may make you feel surprisingly lighter.
- Set goals for your future that will motivate you onward. Maybe that's a business venture, a dream, or whatever else motivates you. We want to someday have a farm of our own. Many of our activities revolve around preparing for that day, like growing a back yard garden.
- If you need to, reach out to a professional. Maybe you could benefit from some counseling. There's absolutely no shame in it. There are some great Christian counselors out there that can work out a payment plan to help you pay for your appointments if you need it.
Remember That You Are Worth It
Parenting is hard enough, you certainly don't need others making it harder on you. It's really a shame that others can't be more understanding. But this is not a reflection on you. Stand strong momma and know that whatever you decide for your home and your children is what is best for them.
If you really feel like you need some guidance, there's nothing wrong with doing your research and talking to other moms, but in the end, trust your gut. You are the only one that knows your kids and your situation. Even more importantly, you are the only one that has to live with your thoughts and feelings. Please don't let others bring you down.
Find people to surround yourself with that will encourage you and lift you up. Find a hobby you enjoy, that maybe you can get your kids involved in with you. And create a routine that works for you and your family. Honestly, it doesn't matter what others think, not even your extended family. No one's negativity is worth your happiness. Find a hobby, some inspiration, a bond with your kids and other friendly, loving adults around you. Find the strength to go on. You are worth it.
© 2019 Victoria Van Ness