I Am Not in Love with Mothering

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When I saw this blog post title in my Reader, I was intrigued: “Am I Still in Love With Mothering?” I like this post, and it’s stayed with me, not because I feel the same way, but because I don’t feel the same way, not at all.

Just going by her blog, I’d say Jess is the kind of mother I wish I were, but am not, and in the end I’m okay with not being like her. That’s one of the personal growth-y hope-y change-y things that I’ve come to reconcile myself to in the two-and-a half years that I’ve been a mother.

love

I love my kids, I am glad I’m a mom, I love my life, I’m happy. But I am not in love with mothering. For me, mothering just doesn’t come easy, it seems. It challenges me every day in ways that I was wholly unprepared for when I first decided to have child. I think I am a good mother -- whatever that is -- and I know my husband would agree. I hope someday my children will agree. I love taking care of my kids and I am so grateful that I get to be home with them while they’re little. I still just can’t say that mothering itself is something I love, because it’s so. Damn. Hard.

I’m not talking about the baby bouncing and nursing and changing diapers and dealing with tantrums… yeah, that stuff is hard at times, and definitely exhausting. But what’s really difficult is the whole being a mother stuff itself. The worrying, the feelings of inadequacy, the irrational fears, and most of all, butting up against the parts of myself that I just don’t like -- my anger, my insecurity, my inability to put things in perspective when stupid things upset me. Children expose your dark side like nothing else can, and it’s painful to have to look at it, just stare at these raw parts of yourself that you otherwise would be happy to blithely ignore forever. Or maybe that’s just me? I certainly feel that happening, often.

I remember that in the early days of my relationship with Mike, we had our rocky times. We had to work on ourselves and work through some baggage. The thing is, when you do that with a romantic partner, you’re doing it with an adult, an equal. They carry it with you and you help each other. Children also make you work through your baggage, but in a new way; a way that’s so tricky, so colossally exhausting sometimes because you have to hold that baggage and protect them from it while you work. Your children can’t hold it for you. You don’t even want them to see it.

I’ve been struggling a little with Miles lately. It’s all totally ordinary stuff. He’s two-and-a-half. He has tantrums, he gets cranky, he doesn’t nap anymore but sometimes he’s tired during the day, he doesn’t always eat well because he’s a picky toddler. He doesn’t like to be told what to do, he wants to control everything, he’s selfish and headstrong. Normal normal normal normal.

But then there’s me… engaging in power struggles, losing my cool, slipping into bouts of worry-induced insomnia, Googling myself into Cuckoo Town. I don’t want to be this way; I want to be cool, laid back, patient, gentle, unflappable. I am not. But I have to just accept myself, the way I accept Miles for who he is, and work it out. Keep working on it.

I often think of myself as having growing pains, going through just as much upheaval and change as Miles is -- and maybe I am just in the toddler stage of motherhood. I know it will probably never be easy, and I’m not going to become a different person,< but I do still hope (and believe) that it (and I) will smooth out the rough edges a little eventually; that, like my marriage, motherhood will settle into something that feels like a safe and happy space. One that still needs constant tending, but not one that needs constant major renovations.

 

Photo Credit: krubel@sbcglobal.net.

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