Mothering is hard work. It is hands down the most demanding and sometimes demeaning job I have ever done. Not talking about the hard parts of being a mama is what makes it even harder. There is this myth that in order to be a good mother you need to be perfect. Like the minute you give birth all your frustration and confusion will fly out the door and you will magically know all there is to know about how to raise this tiny being. Then at the same time everyone and their dog has an opinion on how you should do this or that. If I’ve learned anything it’s that trying to be perfect is a sure recipe for being miserable and accepting failure can be the most heroic thing we can do.
Here is something you probably don’t know: I got pregnant three weeks after meeting my partner Chris, I was 20 and he was 19. Were we ever SCARED. I had been working with children since I was 16 and had always wanted to be a mama- but I sure wasn’t planning on doing it then. I was in university and had a growing career in community development creating programs & art empowerment projects for rural & inner city children and youth. I worked right up until I was 8 1/2 months pregnant as a peer counselor for a youth resource center. I thought my experience with other peoples children would prepare me for having my own…after all as an inner city youth worker I had been pushed down stairs, screamed at and dealt with more messes and behaviors then you could imagine. I had also already helped birth a close friends baby, then lived with her for the first 8 months, caring for the baby part-time. My mother told me I was fooling myself thinking I had it all figured out…she was right (don’t tell her I said that). Being responsible 24/7 for a small child is unlike anything I have ever done before and I don’t think anything can prepare you for the experience.
I love, love, love my daughters and I will never regret my decision to become a parent. But sometimes it is hard work and mamas don’t usually get many days off. So I made this poster for all of us, inspired by Sark’s print How To Really Love A Child. Because loving a child and loving motherhood are two very different creatures. If you can relate to what helps me & what I need to remember when I am having a tough day go ahead and print it out. Or you can download the frame with the title to fill in yourself + if you want to invent your own or you have little ones about distracting you, print out the blank frame to doodle in.
Please also share your thoughts on how to really love motherhood in the comments. It was nerve-wracking to share my own difficulties with parenting so I can understand if you don’t, but isn’t it always lovely to not feel like you’re all alone?
Download my How To Really Love Motherhood print
Download the Fill It In version
Download the blank frame
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So sweet & so true. When my husband & I were taking our childbirth class, the nurse told us, “Remember, it’s just a phase.” She was talking about the sleep deprivation and early frustrations, but really, it applies to ALL of parenthood- the frustrating phrases, the easy phases, the exhausting ones & the heart melting ones. My son is three & I can’t count the number of times my husband & I have looked at each other and repeated that nurse’s words to one another. And so I try to take it all as it comes, knowing that for better or worse, these moments are fleeting.
Thank you Nicole! It’s just a phase is such a good motto for parenting…two is such a challenging age but its also so insanely adorable and gone too fast. Isn’t if funny how in the midst of dealing with two or three or four or seventeen (I am SO not ready for 17) you can look back and realize its flying by so quickly. That always helps me take a step back: )
Motherhood is most deffiantly a hard job! Fathers are great at turning off the daddy switch and taking time for themselves. We let them because it makes them better fathers and husbands. But as a mother I find when I take time for myself or leave the kids – i feel guilty and think I need to get back to them Fast, without enjoying the peace and quiet I left the house to find. I have to remember that doing things for myself, allowing myself breaks makes me a better and happier mama. In turn, when I’m more joyful and calm my boys usually are too. MOMS- Take the time for yourselves, your family might not thank you right away, but they’ll see the difference even an hour away will do for you.
Such an important lesson Margaret, thank you for sharing! I am a big fan of the day off but I totally know what you mean, I have taken the day off & then spent all my time feeling like I need to get back…totally defeating the purpose. I am trying to make a point of going out dancing, spending a few hours in a cafe with a good book or sending the family away so I can putter around the house blissfully alone. In our family though I do that more then Chris does…he should take some papa time too.
I was in my early 30s when I had my kids and I can safely say that motherhood is the hardest thing I have ever done. Unlike a 9-5 job, you are always on call and your vacations require a vacation.
My husband insists that I go out by myself at least once a week. He knows I need it and I have finally accepted that it does not make me a bad mother for needing that time–it makes me better!
“your vacations require a vacation” LOVE it Erika! And so so true. It really doesn’t matter how old you are or how “prepared” you think you might be, mothering is still a tough journey. Taking that time for yourself is so important-we are people first and mamas second!
I try to keep in mind that you cannot do everything you want to do in life during the chapter when you have little kids. I left a fantastic tenure track job in the humanities to stay home with my kids, and I found myself getting frustrated because there was so much that I wanted to do and no time to do it. If I keep this in mind, knowing that there are more chapters to come when I can build my business, pursue my hobbies, etc. it makes the time I spend with my kids much more enjoyable. I left my hard earned job for a reason — to enjoy my kids — and I don’t want to jeopardize that by being frustrated or unhappy.
YES! Thank you Erica! I think the idea of life having chapters & the one with your children is one you want to read every line of. I also struggle with being present sometimes & get caught up in wanting to do MORE. But then I know I would have to make the choice to not be home with my youngest & I don’t want to miss a thing. But it’s still hard some days! I have to keep checking in with myself to see if being a stay at home mom + working is what I really need & if it is best for my girls.
This is such a great post on motherhood! and almost scary for a mommy-to-be I must say! I can’t wait to to have all of this, even the difficult phase!
Thanks Marie, mamahood can be scary! But it is scarier if you’re not allowed to be afraid, you know what I mean? All the phases are both difficult & awesome & that is the biggest part of the journey. I also think they balance each other out! Congratulations on becoming a mamasita and this new adventure-it won’t always be sunshine and roses but it will always be worth it <3
A super start to the month as ever Jessika, and I think I love you just a little bit more! Thanks for opening up about your life.
Here is something you probably don’t know about me: I had postnatal depression after having my gorgeous boy.
He was born prematurely, we were both in hospital for weeks and it was just NOT how the magazines said it would be! There was no-one to write a strongly worded letter of complaint to, so I just ignored it.
I felt awful. It just got worse as I put on a mask and pretended everything was fine, then I decided enough was enough and this wasn’t right.
I spoke to a wonderful doctor who patiently listened to me – I spoke to other mummies and discovered that actually I wasn’t the only one who was struggling.
It was so reassuring to learn that I wasn’t going mad. Hurray for other mummies!
And hurray for my mum who helped me through it all.
And hurray for my little boy who makes me laugh every day. The other day my husband and I were cuddling and little one came into the room and said “Guuuuuys!” in a really exasperated way.
Bless him – and bless you other mummies too – looking forward to another cracking month on OMHG, Lucy xx
Got a bit carried away – apologies for ridiculously long comment ;o)
Lucy I love your comment! It made my month & made writing this post & pushing my comfort zone SO worth it. Thank you for sharing your story. Hurray for you & your familia and your journey! I am so happy you reached out and shared what was happening for you & found the support you needed, the support we all need no matter how our babies come into the world! Sharing our stories & our feelings about what we love is so important but it’s just as vital to talk about the things we struggle with. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!
Thank you for your sharing.
It’s so true:)
I always wanted to be a mother, and unlike you, it took many years to have a child.
Idealizing the perfect moment. I expected a better job, a bigger house … when I became pregnant, the bigger house does not exist:) and so my son was born, I left my job.
Life has changed, priorities have changed.
Suddenly I realized that to be a good mother I had to fight for a life that really made ??me happy and fulfilled.
I started working in my studio that I gradually building, I am part of my son’s life and try to pass him the enjoyment of life and fight for our dreams.
There are times that I almost go crazy, he has three years and some days it’s really hard to balance all:) and try to get a little time just for me too.
But today when I look back, I can not imagine my life differently and especially without my little prince.
A beautiful story San! Thank you for sharing: ) I really love this: “to be a good mother I had to fight for a life that really made ??me happy and fulfilled.” I couldn’t agree more! If I pass anything on to my girls I would love them to know that even though it is sometimes hard, fighting for what you love & what brings you joy is the most important work we can do. The big house isn’t half as important as happiness!
Wow, I think you hit the nail on the head here 😉 I cannot believe the roller coaster that motherhood is –nothing can prepare a person for that beforehand. I also believe that you don’t really “get it” until you are a parent yourself. A lot of my friends are still child free, and honestly, they don’t get it. Sometimes I feel really alone with my feelings. I cannot imagine how hard all of this would have been at 20. I appreciate you sharing your story, and sharing such a truth. Some days are so hard, and others so perfect.
Hi Angela! It IS a roller coaster-sometimes you’ve got your hands up in the air & others you feel like you want to get off-this totally sums it up”Some days are so hard, and others so perfect.” I understand feeling alone with your feelings-hopefully you have friends who really get it who you can vent to when you need it!
It is so wonderful to hear everyone’s stories! My oldest is 18 and going to college but I still remember those days when he was a newborn and just sitting on the couch and letting him sleep on me was the highlight of my day. I worked part-time which made me feel more present when I was home. It is so hard but also so rewarding. And I still find myself telling myself “It’s just a phase.” I have a 14 year old son too and 3 stepkids, another great challenge altogether. I admire young moms (my sister was like you), so tough to do it all…parenthood, school, work, relationship, wow!
Thanks for you comment Claudia I am just loving all the stories & experiences being shared. I wonder if we need to keep repeating it’s just a stage forever! Oh goodness 14…as long as my girls are nothing like I was as a teen I think I’ll survive it; )
Motherhood for me brings me so much joy but through that I have experienced so much loss. I have two little ones but have lost 3 in pregnancy, one of the losses in particular was at a later stage and very traumatic. To this day I miss the little boy I lost and don’t think I will ever get over it. All my children mean the world to me, they inspire me, have shaped the person I am today (stretchmarks and all!) and I try to be the best person I can be because of them.
I’m looking forward to motherhood month and to any Mums out there who have also lost a child, you are not alone.
Thank you so much dearest Isa for feeling safe enough to share your loss here. I’ve grieved with friends over the loss of a child & can not imagine the inner reserves of strength it must take to move forward. I think it is something you can never let go of but hopefully the joys & struggles of parenting your 2 beautiful children helps ease the sharpness. Glow in the Woods (http://www.glowinthewoods.com/) is an online community of baby lost parents created in part by the brilliant Kate Inglis of sweetsalty.com. It’s a beautiful loving space & I thought you might be interested. Big love to you sweetie you inspire me with your strength and awesomeness.
Hi Isa – what a touching comment (have a lump in my throat).
You must be so strong to get through losing a little one, let alone three. And you’re so positive – it’s easy to forget how lucky we are as mummies (especially when you’ve just dropped a potty full of wee onto your new trousers, as I did this afternoon…!)
:o) Lucy x
I was blessed to watch so many close friends become parents before I did, so I went into parenthood with the attitude that in order for me to be a good parent, a happy parent, I had to be a happy person first.
When you’re not happy or personally fulfilled outside of parenting, it shows, subconsciously your behavior is different and I didn’t want to subconsciously, negatively impact my girls. Part of that is having time away from motherhood (I had a child not a lobotomy, I want to talk and enjoy adults too!) so I can thoroughly enjoy motherhood.
Breathing deeply during those tough moments, reminding myself that yes, this is just a phase, part of my child’s stage of development, embrace it so they can learn and move through it.
Always remembering my words, visceral bodily responses and conscious behaviors affect my children and they will not forget the bad moments esp as they get older.
I try to remember regularly it is my job to help them grow and let them fly, not control them. As adults, I want them to look back and have an endless well of happy childhood memories and adventures that will make them smile.
I also give myself permission to not be perfect, to be angry if I am, they need to know its ok and safe to express emotion here.
I figure, one day they won’t be here, they’ll be off living their lives and I will miss the fun and the frustration. This is the young family part of my life and it is going by so quickly. That is the thing at the forefront of my mind whenever I get impatient, their childhood is going by so quickly, hold on to it for as long as you can woman! One day, not far off (time flies) we will be empty nesters with all the opportunities that brings.
Such a wonderfully written comment Tracey! Yes yes yes to everything you shared! I love to reflect on Kahil Gibran’s words on children:
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
Always helps me to take a step back when I feel like holding on too tightly.
isa~ i am so sorry for the loss of your little boy~
it is so true, our children + motherhood changes us + makes us who we are. we are being continually formed into motherhood by both the large stuggles + small challenging moments, sometimes to our dismay 😉 it is quite a ride!!! today was full of temper tantrums, never-ending whines, that did eventually end + big smiles + hugs, in the end i’m hoping it all evens out.
Hi Roseann! Thanks for chiming in-oh the temper tantrums & brutal days….but then you look at them sleeping peacefully and the love just fills you right up. I think it does balance, not always in that moment but in the long run. Hugs to you mamasita!
All you wonderful moms, thanks for sharing (looking forward to this month’s theme, Jessika)!
Huge Hugs, Isa!
I honestly thought I would never be a mom, since I was an elementary teacher for so long, I just considered the students to be my kids and I can gratefully return them to their parents at the end of the day…
I’m so glad that my husband and I decided to have kids (after 9 years). I can’t even imagine what life would be without my little guys! It’s not at all easy and I’m always second guessing myself – whether or not I’m making the right decisions for the kiddos.
I try to remember to take time for myself (even if it’s for just 5 minutes).
Time if flying by – these kids are growing way too fast…
Absolutely beautiful Jessika! I am so looking forward to this month’s theme. 🙂
Oh Isa, how did I miss your comment earlier? I truly believe a mother is forever changed by the loss of a child, a part of your heart goes with them, the rest of your heart stays here firmly planted to love those with you and remember as they would have wanted you to. Much love and light to you always for that path is hard, but it never has to be alone.
Jess. Kahil Gibran speaks the words of my soul in so many ways, on children and so much more!
Oh the tantrums! Goodness, I fear my youngest has my fiery nature! I am waiting for those explosive teen years with the cries of I hate you. I will always have to remember to open my arms wide and repeat ‘I love you more than this’ every single time, knowing that once she hits 21 or so, she will love me again 🙂
Thanks everyone, means a lot to know I didn’t scare you all off by revealing too much. Sometimes it can be good to share as it helps you to heal just a little bit more by talking about it.
Lucy- how funny about spilling potty wee on your new trousers! My nosy 8 month old often rushes over to see what her big brother has done in there + sometimes she makes it before me!!
You are all amazing Mothers. I’m so happy I have found such a great community here on Oh My! Handmade Goodness. I’m so proud of you Jessika, you do such a great job. I will definitely check out http://www.glowinthewoods.com and just thanks so much for letting me be a part of this great blog 🙂
You made me all weepy this morning Isa! I love that we are creating a community here of supportive friends who we can feel safe sharing our lives with. It’s just beautiful!!!! And is what inspires me to put so much time & effort into OMHG. Thank you so much for your praise, it makes my heart happy: )
Re: the potty accidents we’re potty training Sela & the accidents are darn near daily. There is nothing like a pile of pee to help with humility; )
My baby girl is 40 days old, and I just read your post while nursing her, well… I really think I’ll print and frame your words, thank you for the lovely thought! 🙂
Such a lovely image Sigrid-almost makes me miss the tiny nursing stage: ) So glad you enjoyed the print!
Thank you or this post. I just had a really rough day with my three year old and four month old and really needed to be reminded that that’s okay. And I can’t be perfect. Thank you, I’ll be printing this out!
Thank you for this free download. I’m about to embark on this journey of motherhood so I’m sure the reminders will come in VERY HANDY!! 😀
Yay! Congratulations Winnie: ) I wish you a safe, healthy & joyful pregnancy & mamahood! I hope the reminders do come in handy too when things are tough.
Thank you so much for this – I’ve been left all weepy. I also got pregnant unplanned while at uni and it’s been the most mind altering, life saving, stomach churning, heart breaking, wonderful journey. I love my children more than I ever believed possible and wouldn’t have missed this for the world but it can be hard to see their stars through all the clouds and storms they create and right now I definitely needed to be reminded to breathe. Thank you 😀 xxx
As others said, I had a rough morning with my 7 and 2 year olds….I worked HARD to be a mother (adopted twice) and still need to be reminded at times…Printing this instantly and sticking it in the fridge. Thanks for such beautiful and thoughtful work!
Just found your site. Loved this post and the print.
Thank you for all you had to say about Motherhood. It does me a world of good to hear that other moms are struggling too. I look around at the world and everyone else seems to have it all together. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one that yells at my kids and gets frustrated or annoyed by them.
I’m working so hard each day to find joy in the small things and some days I’m awesome at this other days not do good. I’m printing your amazing quote and putting it on my inspiration board so I can read and re-read it every day!
I love this comment Michelle!!!! It is not easy to be a mama-any one who tells you it is is lying!!! All we can do is take it day by day and do our best to remember that even though it is hard there is so much beauty & wonder too: ) Big mamasita hugs to you!!!!
Oh how true…. I really need to remind myself of this, especially now that my oldest daughter is a teenager. I often have to think back to her sweet toddler years just to realize I still want her around! This too shall pass….
I love it
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