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The Dark Side of Motherhood

We had a really rough morning this week. My husband was gone on a business trip and I’d woken up at 4 a.m. in horrible pain due to a sinus infection. By the time I had to get the kids up at 6:30 a.m., I was already tired and grumpy. My son did not want to get out of bed that day so while I tried to be happy and chipper, I lost it. We fought until he got out of bed. That really set the tone. After taking over 30 minutes to eat his granola, we decided he didn’t have time for his yogurt and he needed to pack his backpack. I soon discovered he was not packing his backpack, but having a light saber duel in his room with an invisible Sith. I. Lost. It. I stopped trying to salvage the morning and made all sorts of threats. I’m pretty sure the words “all your toys” and “on fire” and “some kids don’t even have food” were used. To be honest, it was pretty ugly.

Of course I felt terrible on the drive to school and tried to tell him how much I love him and how I’m sorry I lost my temper. As I walked him to the door I gave him a hug, told him I was sorry again, that I love him, that he’s a great kid and I hope he had a great day. In that moment I felt like a total failure. I was sending my son to school with bad thoughts of home. What kind of a mother was I? Kids are supposed to feel safe and loved at home no matter that. I’d failed my son on the most basic level. I didn’t deserve to have kids. I wasn’t even sure I should have a dog anymore. I’d failed as a human being.

As these awful thoughts were going through my head, another mother/son duo walked up to the door. The mom hugged her son said “Have a great day!” and then more quietly said, “I’m so sorry we had a fight this morning. I’m sorry I lost my temper. I love you.” Here is an actual picture taken of me in that moment:

That was a huge turning point for me. Everyday at drop-off I see moms and kids hugging and saying good-bye. I don’t hear anyone fighting or threatening to take away birthdays for the next 30 years. When I see that, that’s all I assume there is. That mom made me realize, moms are people too. We get angry, we say stupid things, and we have regrets. Basically, we’re not perfect.

As moms, we live under the idea that the second the doctor hands us that baby, we’re going to be perfect because any mistake will doubtlessly turn our kids into serial killers. The truth is, each one of us makes mistakes and a lot of them. If you think you’re failing as a mom, that probably means your worried about it enough and you love your kids enough that you’re actually doing just fine.

Don’t take what you can see as the full story. Take social media for example. I read a study that discovered that people who spend a lot of time on social media are more depressed. Think about what you see on social media. Kids smiling and doing chores, brothers and sisters snuggling and reading together, and pictures of school reports that have the words “My mommy is the best mommy ever” in the handwriting of a 6-year-old. When was the last time you saw a mom post pictures of three-days worth of dirty little-boy underwear on the floor? When did you open your phone and see a Facebook post that read, “My daughter failed a test today, pushed a kid off a swing and forgot to flush the toilet.” Or “I yelled at my kids again today. #siblingwar #iwanttosellmychildren #spawnofsatan.” We only see the best of people. And I’m not judging. I only post the best too. My famiy doesn’t actually spend every weekend hiking, playing games and baking together. We fight, we need breaks from each other and I sometimes lock myself in my room and stare at Pinterest for 45 minutes.

But… I love my kids more than anything. I’d do anything for them and if anyone looks at them wrong I WILL become mama bear. They are more important to me than anything and bring me joy I never knew was possible.

So remember, we’re all in this together, moms. You’re doing okay. You do your best, you love your kids and they’re going to remember that when things get tough. Give yourself a break. You’re a great mom.

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One Response to The Dark Side of Motherhood

  1. Liisa Payne January 27, 2018 at 4:14 pm #

    Great article! I totally relate and have had worse mornings than what you describe. Hopefully I haven’t done any permanent damage to my kids! I definitely glad I am not the only imperfect mom out there.

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