I don’t enjoy being a parent. And that’s okay.

As I am trying to write this, 3/4 of my children are screaming.  Sometimes I am so tired of hearing it, I crank up the music and pretend I don’t hear them.  Sometimes I yell.  Sometimes I put them in their rooms and close their doors.  Occasionally, I handle it in professional-mother fashion with a calm, yet stern voice and diffuse the situation.  Sometimes I have to hold back tears of frustration.  It seems that in these days of toddler and preschool-hood, the stress and frustration of parenting seems to overpower the joy 95% of the time.  It didn’t feel that way with the first child, it seemed to multiply with each one.  I know other moms with large families.  And not only are they content and happy, but want more children!  They are the person I wanted to be.  Maybe even the person I thought I was.

Instead, I’m exhausted.  I work, I come home, I feed them, I try to get them to play in the toy-room until the moment the clock strikes 8:00 and I can put them to bed as soon as possible.  Sometimes I can’t even wait that long and I put them to bed early just so I can have some peace and quiet.  I love my kids, I truly do.  I want nothing more than for them to have happy and fulfilling lives.  But I want that for myself too.  And I thought that because motherhood didn’t end up doing it for me, that I made a mistake.  My children are great children, and they deserve a mother who loves being a mother.  I have since, through some soul searching and a little therapy, come to the realization that loving motherhood is not universal.  It is not a given, and it is not a requirement.   It turns out, you can love your kids with all your heart, and not love being a parent.

It turns out, this is much more common than we are lead to believe.  But being inundated with social media images of pinterest projects, organic lunches, play-dates, and moms who appear to be fully engrossed in motherhood and loving it, can make it awfully hard to talk about.  No mother wants to admit out loud that she doesn’t enjoy being a mother.  And the internal guilt and shame that I have felt has worn on me immensely.  But, eventually, I got to a point where I couldn’t keep it in any more.  And you know what I found?  I was not alone.  It doesn’t mean we don’t love our kids, and it doesn’t mean we aren’t good moms.  It is okay to get our fulfillment from things outside our kids!  

I want to encourage every mother, do what makes you happy.  If that means putting the kids to bed early so you can read, craft, or watch trashy TV, that’s alright.  If that means leaving them with a sitter to go snowboarding, or on a hike, do it!  Heck, have a girl’s weekend, and get away.  Maybe even a kid-free tropical vacation.  Some people find satisfaction in life through parenthood, some through experiences, some through career, some through productivity.  Find your source of fulfillment!  Just because you are a mom, doesn’t mean that has to be your source of joy.  I am hear to tell you, you don’t have to love the mom-job, and that’s okay.

People tell me I am a great mom because I have four kids.  They see all their cute pictures on Facebook and think I’ve got it all together.  Well, I’m saying, even yelling, it; I don’t!  I survive.  But maybe that’s all it takes to be a great mom.  They are fed, they have shelter and clothing.  Their hair and teeth are brushed, and they know they are loved.  And for now, that is as much as I can give.

More Than Mom

There is this universal culture of “Moms” right now.  We drink wine.  We want a bath.  We like tacos, apparently?  We have messy buns and wear yoga pants.  We are EXHAUSTED.  We sacrifice self-care in the name of motherhood and are proud of it, but at the same time despise it.  We commiserate with other mothers about sleepless nights, potty training, and tantrums.  We survive by our mommy-friends, or we are mom-dating and crying about not having mommy-friends.  Because if we don’t have mommy-friends, we are alone.  Because that’s what we are.  We are moms.

We seem to acknowledge the losing of ourselves that happens when we become mothers.  Yet, the mom community thrives on it.  We are united in our mom-identity.  All we know how to talk about is our kids.  The only plans we make are play-dates.  Of course our kids are the most important thing to us.  But we are more.  We are wives, lovers, friends, artists, dancers, writers, musicians, athletes, crafters, hikers, music fans, and a thousand other things that we seem to let fall by the wayside.

After four children, I hit a point where I decided that motherhood was something I did, and not who I am.  And I am sure there are those who disagree, and are content with it.  After all, raising children is the most important job we will ever have.  But I am also sure that there are those feeling drained, and lost, and wanting more out of life.  Those who are wanting to be more than “mom.”  Ladies, I am right there with you.