I’m going to be completely honest with you – sometimes I don’t enjoy motherhood. There, I said it.
Please don’t roll your eyes at me or question why I made the decision to become a mom in the first place. I absolutely love being a parent. I love my two children immensely and would do anything for them. But modern parenting has transformed in such a way where it’s required that I do everything for them or risk being labeled a bad mom.
In my 7+ years of being a mom, I find that motherhood has become increasingly relentless.
There is a monotony in parenting which I understand and have found structure in. I know that every day my life will resemble Groundhog Day in some way. Each and every day you can find me preparing meals, washing dishes, doing laundry, folding laundry, wiping butts, monitoring TV time, breaking up fights, calmly giving instructions, loudly giving instructions, screaming instructions, brushing teeth, giving baths, reading books, putting kids to bed, putting kids back to bed, and screaming for kids to get back into bed.
I also know that each and every day my life will bring me hugs, kisses, comfort, joy, a heart bursting with love, curious eyes watching my every move, new adventures, understanding, patience, and a new perspective.
My problem with motherhood lies in the constant guidance and monitoring of my children. There is an overall pressure to be a perfect parent – a parent who puts their child’s wants and needs before their own and will gladly spend an enormous amount of time and energy to do so. When my two children are not in school, they are rarely out of my sight. This is because there is an unspoken rule that I am to supervise them at all times.
We live one block away from a public park. It takes approximately two minutes to walk from our front door to the park; however, I am unwilling to let my kids walk there on their own and play freely. First and foremost, I will most likely get arrested. Secondly, they will most likely get kidnapped or bullied or swept up in something very dangerous if I’m not there.
My problem with motherhood lies in the constant guidance and monitoring of my children. There is an overall pressure to be a perfect parent – a parent who puts their child’s wants and needs before their own and will gladly spend an enormous amount of time and energy to do so.
I must always have my eyes on them. At least, that’s what it feels like.
When they are at home, I must always entertain them because society tells me I need to substantially assist in the development of their creativity and learning. I must provide educational toys and games that will help them advance in school because letting them watch TV for more than twenty minutes once a day or experience boredom is what bad parents do. I must always entertain them – that’s my job.
I also have to make sure that their lives are enriched in a way that makes them well-rounded human beings who will float effortlessly throughout life with no obstructions. Art classes, music lessons, sports lessons, math and reading tutors, cooking classes, language classes, theater classes, and STEM classes. Am I doing a good job if my children are not enrolled in at least three of these classes per term?
There is also a pressure to give 100 percent in all areas of your life outside of motherhood as well, such as having the perfectly curated home, wardrobe, career, life partner, workout routine, skincare routine, and hobbies. We must be fully immersed in motherhood yet also fully immersed in our individuality, sexuality, and quest to run side-hustles so we can be our own bosses.
Frankly, it’s all exhausting.
I fully understand that this is a somewhat privileged point-of-view. There are mothers in other parts of the world whose worries are far more pressing. However, with the rise of social media and an instant connectedness to everyone and everything, I can argue that this mindset is slowly making its way far beyond particular socio-economic circles.
This recent Instagram re-post by The Everymom, originally stated by Bunmi Laditan, really resonated with me and the rigorous culture of modern parenting:
I worry about the autonomy of my children. Modern parenting is not structured in a way that allows independence and self-reliance. Will they grow to depend on me too much? What would it look like if I parented against the grain? Will they still thrive? Will they fall behind their peers? Will they still become well-rounded, successful adults? It’s too risky to find out, so I play the game and continue the intense and consuming job that is modern motherhood.
While I love being a mom and whole-heartedly agree that investing in children is a positive thing (after all, children are our future!), I just wonder how many parents (including me) invest at the expense of their own autonomy and needs.
Does it really make a difference in the long run? Or are we creating a future society of children with no executive function coupled with burned-out parents?
I don’t know the answer. What I do know is that I don’t always enjoy motherhood.