If You're So Unhappy Being a Mom, Why Should I Be One?
At least ten of you have sent me the link to the I Hate Being a Mom Secret Confessions site by now, and I’ve been avoiding it. Sort of in the same way I’ve been avoiding seeing The Exorcist. Because although I know these horror stories probably wouldn’t happen to me, they’d still scare me to death.
I was right.
If you have the emotional fortitude to read through these stories and be unaffected, then by all means, clear your calendar for an evening and settle down with some sweatpants and a bag of Pirate’s Booty, and really dig in. If you don’t have the time or the Seasonal Affective Disorder lamp required to do so, here are some of the comments I pulled out that really resonated with me for one reason or another:
- I am the mother of a beautiful, funny, intelligent 4 1/2 yr old, and I can’t STAND being around her for more than 5 minutes!
- I find myself tuning them out some days and resenting them for taking away who I was.
- I love my kids but I am exhausted and everyday is like Groundhog’s Day over and over again.
- In the morning I find myself counting the hours to nap time then after nap time I am counting the hours to bedtime!
- I can’t eat, sleep, shower, even go to the bathroom whenever I want, it’s when my baby allows me to, and hey, when you’ve lived your entire life doing the basic things in life whenever you wanted it shocks you, annoys you just a little bit.
- I have absolutely no maternal instincts whatsoever, and even when the kids are hurt I find myself going through the motions without actually caring about them much.
- On the drive to school, she bangs and bangs the top as she asks nonsensical questions. I keep thinking, “Almost there. Two more miles. Just get there.”
- I cannot stand when people cling to me. I feel like I am suffocating.
- I don’t really love my job, I’m just so happy to get out of the house and away from my child and he can be someone else’s problem until 5:00 rolls around.
- I used to look forward to the weekends…now I look forward to Monday.
- I cannot make myself volunteer for one more bake sale, eat lunch at the school, go to McDonald's or play outside when I hate being outdoors.
- No one ever told me that the minute she was born, who I was would die.
- I have never been able to identify with this type of behavior (even as a child myself) and expect my daughter to act and REACT as an adult would.
- It’s been so long since I got to indulge a hobby that I don’t really know what I like to do.
I didn’t make it through all 2,000-plus comments on the site. But I read through enough of them to be completely transported back to my babysitting days, with some of these sentiments echoing my own so eerily (particularly those about suffocating and drowning), they made me shudder. I can distinctly remember doing an elaborate dance routine in the shower before every babysitting job in the desperate hopes I would fall and smash my ankle to smithereens and be unable to fulfill my duties. The idea that I would break the shower glass and have to be found naked by my family members à la Meg Ryan in When a Man Loves a Woman never occurred to me, so great was my desperation to avoid babysitting.
I don’t, by any means, have an explosive personality, but I’d spend hours in other people’s houses feeling like I was going to scream or break expensive pottery or lose my mind or sprint out the front door and never come back. Though I would never in a million years shake a baby, I could wholeheartedly understand how it happened. In short, I felt exactly like these women on the site. The day I turned 15 and could legally take a job at Burger King was the happiest day of my life. And that’s saying something; those navy pants were terribly unflattering.
I’ve since been told roughly 4,000 times that “it’s different when they’re your own.” And I’m sure that’s true for many people. My mom is one of them. She loves (and always has loved) being a mom of three, but can’t stand to be in the presence of other people’s kids. We’ve ungracefully exited nearly every dining establishment in the greater Indianapolis area at some point or another when kids were found to be within a 100 foot radius of our table. She and many others assure me that these feelings would never apply to my own kids if I had them.
But isn’t this site direct proof that for some people, those feelings DO apply?
These are just the ones who happened to have stumbled onto the site by Googling something like “I don’t like being a mom” -- who knows how many others are out there, feeling the same way, but without even the time to Google, or feeling too guilty to actually type the words!
It’s in our nature to try and classify these women in some way, find some common denominator that can be blamed for their stark unhappiness. But read through just a few pages and you’ll find yourself unable to put your finger on it. Many seem to be quite young, with several kids before 30, but there are others who waited until their mid- or late thirties. Quite a few are either divorced or have remarkably unhelpful husbands, but some have great relationships with the dad -- or at least had one before the baby. Some are stay-at-home moms who miss the rewards of 8-5 office work, but others are the primary breadwinner or at least have jobs they love. A few have serious financial constraints, while there are others for whom money is no object. Some pregnancies were unintentional (the result of birth control failure or being strong-armed by a partner or family), but others had always dreamed of being a mother and were downright shocked to find how miserable it made them.
So what’s the common denominator here? The predictor of parenthood happiness? Because it seems like you can have a fabulous partner, all the money in the world, a rewarding career, a true desire to have a child, and you might still hate being a mom! Maybe it’s this “mommy gene” that’s been making headlines lately -- maybe that’s the one true predictive measure. But until that becomes something we can screen for, how are Fence-Sitters ever going to feel good about taking the leap when we can see how terrifically unhappy it might make us, even with all our ducks in a row?
I suppose this is where someone says something like, “There are no guarantees in life.” But these are the same sorts of people who also say, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” If you’re truly happy with your life right now, should you really risk trading it in? Maybe you’d be even happier…but maybe you’d find yourself with carpal tunnel from typing all your manifestos on the Confessions site. Is it worth the gamble?
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