"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." -Emerson

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The truth about Mommyhood...

Today, I was on the brink of a mommy meltdown. To my defense, it was our wedding anniversary and my husband is going on a night flight until well after midnight, I am a bit hormonal and I was in the presence of a very busy toddler. I found myself a little bit annoyed (gasp!) with my child and realized that wasn't the kind of thing a "good" mother thinks to herself.

There are a lot of things about motherhood that no one really tells you up front. When you are childless, motherhood seems like this secretive sublime little club where they have their own made up language and do their secret fun activities together, all the while with a giant smile plastered across their face. Well, once I joined the club I learned that the plastered smile was to keep them from having a complete nervous breakdown.

So, I thought of some of the other "myths" of motherhood. Here goes:

Myth #1: Your skill as a mother is determined by the behavior of your child.
Fact: These little rugrats do exactly what they want, no matter how skilled a mother they had to train them. They are well, like us...fleshly little beings who have a mind, spirit and desires of their own. You can offer them guidance. You can show them the right way. But, at the end of the day, they are their own little people, even at a pint sized 21 months.

Myth #2: Showing fatigue is a sign of weakness.
Fact: Showing fatigue is a sign that you are still alive. If I see one more mom in the presence of other mothers, pretend as though she is not completely exhausted from the constantacy of mother-dom, I think I might have a mommy breakdown. Come on, ladies! This is some hard work...don't act like I am the only one who can barely keep my eyes open. Don't act like you don't know what I am talking about! PLEASE! Show some undereye circles so I know I am not alone in this battle for rest...

Myth #3: You will always like your child.
Fact: You will always love your child. Here goes my shot at mommy of the year award. Sometimes, on rare occasions like today, I find my child to drive me crazy. I just get tired of chasing and telling her to stop putting things in the toliet, don't eat out of the trash can, put the pots and pans back into every single cabinet in my kitchen, and please, please, please do not write on the wall again with crayons. Some days this is all so endearing and then some, it is a little hair raising. But, the good news is, at the end of the day you find yourself still in love with the little monster :).

Myth #4: Everyone knows what hard work it is to be a momma.
Fact: Only moms know how hard it is to be a momma. The man whom you share your hopes and dreams can sometimes be the most clueless of them all as to how tough this gig is. After all, in his mind he envisions a quiet young lady, playing on the floor with her dolls, while you lazily watch Oprah and drink a mint julep. Little of what he sees in his vision of what your day entails what truly occurs. He does not see the phone ringing, the child hanging from the rafters, you trying to cook lunch while putting in a fourth load of laundry and answering the phone as the UPS man rings the door to deliver a package and your pot of noodles boils over. No...this is not his vision of life in your shoes.

Myth #5: Motherhood is the most rewarding job.
Fact: Ok, hear me out on this one. Motherhood is the most rewarding job, I know I said it was a myth, but it is not in the way you are thinking. Rewards in motherhood are not like other jobs. When you are doing great in your career, you get high praise or a promotion and a raise. It doesn't work like that in the land of moms. There is no "Applause-o-gram," kids aren't naturally inclined to say, "Mom, you have really stepped up your mothering skills. I think I am going to give you the day off and a couple of thousand dollars for you to treat yourself. Thanks mom, you deserve it!" No, don't expect that kind of accolades. The rewards you get in mothering is usually a bit more elusive at times. It comes when she finally gets saying "please and thank you" and does it without any coaxing from you to a stranger. It comes when she asks for a kiss out of the blue. It comes when you are out in public and someone comments on what a happy child she is. Those are the rewards of motherhood. Less elaborate. Less pronounced. But, immensely more valuable than any other position on this earth.

Myth #6: Moms always know what they are doing.
Fact: We are all secretly petrified that we are doing this whole thing wrong. Why is it that when moms are congregated together they immediately begin comparing their children? Because none of us have a clue what we are doing and just hoping that our kid is at least somewhere in the middle of this thing called "developmental milestones." You can only imagine the secret panic we moms experience when we hear a checkpoint that our little Johnny has not shown, while little Susie over there, three months younger, has been doing it for weeks now. Our minds begin trying to pinpoint where exactly we have failed our child. Was it that extra coke we drank during pregnancy? Or perhaps it was when we looked away for just a second and junior tripped face first on the concrete? Mom is always thinking somehow this is all my fault.

Myth #7: Motherhood is filled with constant companionship.
Fact: Being a mom is often quite a lonely job. Whether you stay home or work, you can often find that motherhood brings a certain amount of isolation. For the stay at home mom, she can often feel bored out of her mind with such limited adult interaction so she attempts to fill her day with mommy groups, grocery trips and the like. The working mother can often feel as though she is unlike her stay at home counterparts. While she may have the luxury of complete sentences with fellow grown ups, she secretly harbors a certain amount of guilt about leaving her baby. Her stay at home friends don't quite get it and her fellow working moms, don't talk about it.

I guess my big question is why are moms so afraid to talk about the real truth of mommyhood? Why do we all just try to keep up the facade that we know what we are doing and that we aren't freaking out on the inside? Is it so we appear competent and good at our job? Is it fear of the huge amount of judgement that exists in the momma circle? I am not quite sure, and I am pretty sure I may have broken some mommy codes here, but maybe it can make another mother take a deep breath and think Phew! I am not alone!

You are not alone....

Here's to mommyhood...the real story.

Until next time,


Foley Mason Family said...

I love being a mom, but I am right there with you! Today Ryan had a totally hissy fit at Target because I pushed the cart away from the machine playing samples of kid’s music. My perfect baby who my husband and I have changed our whole lives for was having an all out hissy fit and people are giving me the condescending/ judgmental smile.
I openly have no idea what I am doing as a mom. So far I feel like I haven’t messed things up too badly (I guess I will have to wait until the teenage years to really find out the damage I have done). My kid eats off the floor, we go out when his clothes are covered in food, and he is rarely seen in public wearing two socks. I guess we just have to do the best we can and keep ourselves from going crazy in the mean time! Here is to taking it one day at a time!
Keep up the good work, I love reading your blog!

Karen, Peter, Kari, Andrew, & Joel said...

YES! I knew this was the truth. And to all of you mommies...if we are ever stationed by each other, I want to be there for you! I want to be that gma that is always there. i want to steal your kid for a few moments, so that you can have those moments to yourself.
i have nothing but admiration for all of you who take on this job. seriously, every day, i wonder how you do it.
please keep doing the best that you can, but leave it at that. you can't do everything and nobody seriously thinks you can do everything.
and for any look that i may send your way, i don't mean to be judgmental. instead, empathetic.

and amen to just being real. i wish that everyone could dare to be more real. Catherine, this blog posting was awesome! thanks for putting yourself out there. you are one amazing woman!

Semper Wifey said...

THANK YOU for sharing this! The thought of being a mommy (later on) truly frightens me when I see so many women who are seemingly perfect mothers. Seeing them makes me think that I'm not cut out for it...I get frazzled and exhausted so easily. It's good to know what they might really be struggling with. That way I won't feel like a freak when I wear my frazzle-dazzle on my sleeve!