Why I Write About the Unpleasant Parts of Motherhood

I recently read a blog post written by a mother who said she was disheartened by all the women who are writing about how motherhood isn’t always great. And that for her, she truly did love being a mom. She really enjoyed spending time with her kids.

When I read her blog post, I felt like a terrible mother. And I also felt that she misunderstood why women write about the less pleasant moments of motherhood. It’s not because they wish they didn’t have kids. And it’s not because they don’t enjoy spending time with their children or that the time spent with their kids isn’t important. I have other reasons to write about the less pleasant parts of motherhood, and I don’t think I’m alone in this.

When I had my first baby, my mom came and helped for a few days and my husband stayed home from work with me for the first three weeks. But I’ve never been someone who enjoyed being alone frequently, so once my mom left and my husband went back to work, I felt incredibly isolated.

When my husband left for work each morning, it felt like the rest of the world left with him. I would take walks around my neighborhood and hardly see another person.  Most of my friends with small children didn’t live in the area, and friends without children had careers. I was exhausted and usually needed a shower, so I felt uncomfortable going somewhere like the mall or even the grocery store. And since I was a new mom who was getting used to nursing for the first time, I was terrified of needing to nurse my baby in public.

So I stayed home. Just me and my baby, nearly every day. My baby was fussy and I worked really hard to keep him content (which meant I constantly walked around or nursed him, day and night), so I was always exhausted. And even though I was with a tiny person all the time, I had never felt so alone.

Those first few months of motherhood was one of the toughest periods of my life. I talked with friends who seemed like they had it together and motherhood was a breeze. I saw upbeat posts on Facebook from other young moms and I thought to myself, “Something is wrong with me. Why don’t I have it together like those women?”

And now, five years later, I think that is why I feel so strongly that mothers need to share the times when it’s tough. When it’s not perfect. When it’s not something that they enjoy. It’s not because I want to complain all the time or take my life for granted. I realize that having children is a beautiful thing. They are amazing little people who have changed me and my life for the better. Overall, I love being a mother.

But I don’t love it all the time. I can’t cherish every second. Because I’m human. Sometimes I lose my patience, just want to be alone, or feel overwhelmed. I used to feel guilty about it. But now I know it doesn’t make me less of a mother and it certainly doesn’t mean I love my kids any less. And just because someone out there has it worse than me does not mean that my personal difficult times have any less of an impact on me.

I write about the hard parts of being a mother because another struggling new mother might find it comforting to know that she isn’t alone. Because it can be really lonely. And it’s even lonelier when you think that you are the only one who doesn’t love it all the time. I don’t want other moms to feel like I did. I don’t want them to feel guilty and think that they aren’t a good mother. I want them to know that no one has that perfect life. Everyone struggles. It’s just that not everyone shares their struggle.

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Tips for Introducing an Older Child to a New Baby

hospital

When I was pregnant with my second baby, I felt horribly guilty that I was having a another child. I was worried that my first would resent his baby sister and he would feel neglected and unloved. But when the time actually came, my sweet little boy was an amazing big brother and made a *fairly* flawless transition to the role of older sibling. While each child is different and will handle things their own way, these are the techniques I used to help my first-born adjust to having a sister:

Prep, prep, prep

There is a lot of advice about not talking to your little one about your pregnancy. Apparently it’s too long of a process and they can’t conceptualize it or something like that. Well, I didn’t really care. I decided that my child needed to know why he couldn’t kick me in the stomach, so we told him I had a baby in my belly. Yes, that meant his preschool teacher found out I was pregnant from my son, but I think it was a good thing to start preparing him early. We could talk about what babies do (cry, eat, sleep) and how awesome it is to be a “big boy.” We bought an awesome book (“I’m a Big Brother”) that we would read periodically to remind him about what was going to happen when we had a baby there, too.

Make introductions at the hospital (or wherever you choose to birth) while you aren’t holding or feeding the baby

We opted to have our son come to the hospital to see the baby. Since this was the first time he had been apart from me for more than a day, it was important that I was able to greet him without anyone else interfering (i.e., the baby). So I wanted the baby to be in the bassinet when he came to my room. I asked my parents to warn me when they were coming in case the baby was nursing. And instead of being cranky that someone else had my attention, the first thing he asked me was where I had put the baby. And by doing that, HE was the one to hold the baby the first time he met her (obviously with my help).

Make the first visit extra special

We also had a gift for him at the hospital so it would feel like a celebratory day for him. Meeting a new sibling might not seem fun, so I wanted there to be another reason for him to be excited in case the first meeting went poorly. You don’t have to get a gift, but come up with something that excites your kid. Just in case. They likely won’t think a new baby is nearly as exciting as you do.

Remember that the older child knows you aren’t paying attention to them

If your baby is sleeping peacefully (or is awake and peaceful!), devote some time to the older kid. The infant doesn’t know that you’re ignoring them, but your older child does. They used to be the center of your world, and now they have to share that. So while it is important to bond with the new baby, it’s also important to not forget that your older child needs a lot from you too. It can be tempting to spend all your time with the baby, but trust me, your older child will know you are ignoring them for their sibling. Be sure to make time to hang out with them, too. (Even better if it can happen without the baby sometimes.)

I’m sure there are many techniques you can use to help your little one adjust, but if you are pregnant with your second and are feeling anxious like I was, these might help!

Good luck!