When people think of mothers, they think of brave and loving creatures. But there's one thing we all get wrong! Smiling moms who bake cookies and cook three meals a day do not exist, at least not in our fast-moving universe where school plays, traffic, bills, and business meetings compete with all the joys of motherhood.
Giving birth is a huge endeavour. As a result, moms look more beautiful and confident than ever before. However, there’s a hidden side of the journey called motherhood - something social media influencers and baby shower parties do no reveal.
Mothers juggle a million things at once, so it's no surprise they are often on the edge of exhaustion. New moms often struggle with self-esteem, postpartum emotions, financial problems, and lack of support. Although being a mother is one of the most precious gifts on Earth, people should get a better understanding of the invisible struggles of motherhood, and stop blaming moms for silly things like not bouncing back right after birth or breastfeeding in public.
So, here are 20 truths about motherhood these women would only tell their closest friends. The real question is: are they listening?
20 Lonely Love
Pregnancy and birth are miraculous. In fact, meeting your baby is sometimes more emotional than a mom can bear. At the same time, both working and stay-at-home moms can find it difficult to get used to the new member of the family. There’s so much to do and so much social pressure that women get trapped in a cycle of loneliness.
Mom Annie Gregory wrote on mamamia.com, "I felt I couldn’t possibly admit out loud to anyone how I felt, so I thought I would look to the internet for comradeship. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it there either… I couldn’t find anyone to relate to."
19 40 Weeks
Pregnancy is a beautiful time for every woman. However, pregnancy comes with lots of restrictions, sacrifices, and complications. While many people want to touch a woman's belly and attend a baby shower party, only friends would listen to a pregnant woman and her hidden struggles.
Mom Tia says, "The second time was incredibly hard for me. I felt like I had the flu for about two weeks. My hormones were still stabilizing more than four months after giving birth, too. I would be excited when people came to visit but exhausted when they left even though I never moved off the couch."
18 Learning All The Time
We all know that breastfeeding has numerous benefits. In fact, the WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. However, people don’t get that breastfeeding is hard and sometimes impossible.
For mom Rachel, breastfeeding was the worst aspect of motherhood, "Everything revolves around the boobs. Can't wear a shirt or dress unless I can spring my boobs from it at a moment's notice. Can't leave baby for more than a couple hours, or have to bring a pump and find a place to use it… Leaky boobs all the time. Having to pump at work once maternity leave is over."
17 Never Again
Having a child is a blessing. However, we can’t say that parenthood is easy and sweet. Some women experience extreme birth traumas and PPD, so they admit they’d never get pregnant again.
Mary told romper.com, "Personally, I'd rather give birth twice in a row than deal with all the pains of those first few postpartum months. Sleep deprivation, mastitis, and that first week where my core felt like jelly were rough… The worst part though, for me, was the paranoia."
Mom Toni adds, "I would rather be pregnant or give birth naturally a million times more than go through the postpartum period… No. Never again."
16 Black Hole
Although people do not talk about the negative side of motherhood, often exhaustion, body issues, and hormones take over women's sanity.
Shannon Moyer-Szemenyei, birth and postpartum doula, told whattoexpect.com, "Motherhood was supposed to be amazing but it was a black hole. I would stare in the mirror and not recognize who I was."
Another mother said that the worst part of motherhood was "The Roller coaster, really. One day you are like, 'Yes, I'm so good at this!' and the next day you are sobbing about how much you suck at being able to figure out this little creature and you are totally screwing everything up. Then, back up."
15 Invisible Workload
Motherhood comes with lots of joy and surprises. Nevertheless, being a mother is not a walk in the park. In fact, although many people post pictures of sweet nurseries and cute baby clothes, motherhood is more like a circus performance - led my mothers who juggle nappies, laundry, dishes, and pacifiers.
Mom Erin Pepler admits, "It’s the things we do for our families that are necessary but go completely unnoticed... The mental weight of doing it all... The invisible workload carries over to the pile of school forms and birthday party invitations... The list… never ends. Then there’s… free time which you’ll use mostly to care for others."
14 Limited Mobility
Your life doesn’t end when you have a child, but we have to admit that things can get really tough. Limited mobility, for instance, challenges many moms. Breastfeeding in public, naps, financial struggles, and exhaustion. It’s even harder for parents of kids with behavioral problems.
Didi says, "Why or how is this supposed to be enjoyable?... My son has an oppositional defiant disorder and he hits me and says he hates me. What am I supposed to do, say, ‘Yes honey, I understand. You must be very frustrated.’... Fighting with him is exhausting; I would rather be doing almost anything else… Am I a bad person?... I could possibly be the worst mother on earth."
13 Creatures Of The Night
Caring for other people is wonderful. However, self-care is one of the most important factors for people’s well-being. It’s not a secret that poor sleep can lead to impaired self-care. And we all know that parenthood comes with exhaustion, hormones, and insomnia. Even if your baby is a great sleeper, all the physical and emotional demands of motherhood can lead to sleep disorders. Data shows that new parents get just 4 hours and 44 minutes of sleep.
As mom Cassy shared, "Feeling like you're making headway with sleep or recovery or feeding, just to run into a growth spurt or mental/emotional developmental leap and totally regress. So, so sleepy."
12 The Most Extreme Measure Of Being Alive
Becoming a mother is one of the most powerful experiences ever. Sadly, there are many struggles which may devour the joys of motherhood. So, motherhood becomes a Life duo - with Pain and Joy being the main performers.
And as mother Vivienne Borne says, "Nothing else can produce the joy or broken heart that motherhood allows. I couldn't imagine going through life without feeling that spectrum of emotion… Feeling it all, good or bad, gives my life purpose. Motherhood is walking around with all of your nerve endings raw and exposed. It is the most extreme measure of being alive."
Being a little boy’s mama is special. Mothers and sons form a strong bond, and if their relationship is healthy - don't think Norman Bates and his mother - they can plant seeds of love across the world. Many boys adore their mothers.
And as TQ Evans says, "I overheard my son say, “Don’t worry, just take it to mom, she can fix anything.”… Parenthood is the single most important role any human will ever play in the life of another. There is nothing more fulfilling than knowing that by simply living lives that are intentional and authentic, my husband and I are, in many ways, teaching our children valuable lessons in love, empowerment, compassion, and humanity."
10 Shaping A Future
Raising a girl, on the other hand, comes with different challenges and responsibilities. Mothers and daughters can become best friends. In fact, women should show their daughters that there’s more than Barbie dolls and perfumes in life.
As Kelley says, "I love being a mom, even with all of its trials and lessons. The ability to help shape a young mind and allow her to blossom as she is ready is miraculous. As an African-American mom, I also have the privilege of teaching my daughter self-love and self-respect at an early age… Literally, every choice I make… is to give her a great start in life. It’s a beautiful thing."
9 Involuntary Childlessness
Having a child is a personal choice. There are people who choose not to have children. However, there’s a phenomenon called involuntary childlessness. It’s not only about fertility issues – it’s about people whose partners are unwilling to have children or whose beliefs are stopping them from fulfilling their dreams.
These people suffer in silence, so society should stop being obsessed with women who don’t have children. As Stephanie Phillips said, "Parents will say they are fed up waiting to be a grandparent. People need to stop saying ‘the clock is ticking’. There needs to be an acceptance that not everyone will be a parent, and that some people who can't need to grieve."
8 The Mom Club
One doesn’t have to be surrounded by mommy friends to get into the Mom Club. You can spot a mama: beautiful, confident, and always rushing. It’s all joys and challenges mixed in one.
Jacalyn Stanley told parents.com, "Motherhood is knowing joy, even while experiencing the hardest trials of life. I have learned to rise to any occasion and found myself lifted to new heights while stretching myself beyond any and all limits I once put upon myself… Motherhood gives me an excuse to stay young forever, kicking off my shoes and letting down my hair while enjoying love beyond measure."
7 Don’t Tell Me To Be Quiet!
Birth is messy and sadly not many people care about people’s birth stories. Many women fear birth and more and more mothers feel judged if they’ve opted for an epidural or had a c-section. However, moms should open up about their birth experiences.
As writer and journalist Suzanne Moore wrote, "While babies may be beautiful, let’s not pretend birth is. Why deny it? Who knew that once the baby comes out you still have to deliver what looks like a massive internal organ – the placenta? Who actually wants to be stitched up in the most sensitive part of your body, while being told you don’t feel it, even though you do?"
6 In A Fog
Pregnancy, birth, and motherhood are like a cocktail of hormones. Stats show that 80% of moms experience baby blues; 1 in 7 suffer from PPD, and 1-2 women per 1,000 have postpartum psychosis. Nevertheless, depression is a taboo that moms are ashamed of, something they rarely talk about with their friends.
Author Jennifer Rodgers is not scared to talk, though, "For me, PPD was a heavy feeling of dread coupled with general anxiety about most things, especially sleep… Most of the time, I felt like I was in a fog. When the sun started to go down, I would dread the long night ahead. I didn’t feel like myself, but I didn't know what was happening."
5 Social Family
People often associate motherhood with poor social life and low satisfaction. The truth, however, is that new moms travel, work, and laugh. Also, many social influencers are moms. For instance, in the US alone, there are 4.4 million mommy bloggers.
Sometimes family dynamics are more energizing than other social events.
As Sonia Smith-Kang says, "As an Afro-Latina woman married to a Korean dude and mama to four multicultural, multiracial, and multilingual children, we call our mini global citizens, one of the best parts of being their mama is passing our rich culture and heritage to them in an intentional way: through familial stories, books, dolls, toys, music, food and fashion."
4 We Survived
Books and armchair philosophers bombard new parents with silly advice. The truth is that only parents know how to cope with their baby and all the frustration that comes with parenthood. Although we post cute pictures, clever comments, and funny videos, parenthood challenges our survival. Exhaustion, breastfeeding, hormones, and financial struggles add an additional burden on new parents.
Mom Ani is not scared to share her story, "My firstborn was a super screamer. She cried non-stop for four months. She slept in 45 minute chunks, and then would scream for hours. It was amazing. Looking back, I'm surprised we survived it. She turned 13 last weekend."
3 Post-Baby Positivity
There’s no "normal" when it comes to postpartum health. Each mother is different and unique, so social pressure should stop being a factor in motherhood. In a world where women compare themselves to celebs and moms judge each other, many women suffer from emotional issues.
bybrittanynoon's posted on Instagram, "FINDING SELF LOVE. ... It is about learning to love and respect your body for being the vessel that allows you to go on the journey that is life... Anything that you love to do is because of your body carries you there... By finding self-love… it's crucial to me to ensure a body positive attitude that is reflected on to my daughter."
2 Brave Face
Sadly, people often hide their true feelings. Mothers, in particular, rarely talk about their struggles. And trust us, there are many invisible pains.
As Paula says, "Trying to show a brave face that maybe I knew what I was supposed to be doing even though I was screaming and terrified inside… Crying because breastfeeding didn’t come easy and I had no idea how hard it would be… Not being able to sit down properly for a few weeks. Leaking from everywhere. Scared to look at myself down there in the mirror. Throw in lack of sleep and it’s really a wild ride. Worth it, though, when you're on the other side of it."
1 Overwhelming Love
Nevertheless, love and joy overcome all the struggles and pains that come with parenthood. Overwhelming love mixes with childhood innocence.
As Tonya Cary says, “At the age of 33 I can fly a kite, blow raspberries, act like Scooby Doo, look forward with childish excitement to the Smurf's comeback… sing-along with Elmo while stopped at traffic lights (with the windows down!)… decorate sidewalks with chalk… run through public sprinkler systems… observe ants, play tag, build cities in the sandbox… and laugh hysterically at Sponge Bob without looking stupid."
In the end, mama, you still keep the child within you alive. Enjoy it!