My neighbor didn’t mean to make me feel guilty or alone.
A fellow mom, she asked me, “Aren’t you loving it?”
I can’t remember what I answered. But I do remember the guilt. “Loving it” to me meant enjoying all of it, being happy all the time.
What’s wrong with me? I wondered. Why does parenting feel so hard, so alone, so much like….work?
I loved my son (and still do), but somehow I hadn’t expected just how hard it would be to care for even a healthy newborn. The diaper changes, the crying, the sleep deprivation, spending all day with someone who couldn’t talk and tell me whether he was enjoying what I was doing. And all of that in a new city far from our family and old friends. It was hard in a way that I just didn’t get before having kids. Hard like labor, but lasting longer.
I wouldn’t have been able to put this into words, but I thought I was the only one who felt this way. That all the other moms were tripping happily through a field of daisies with their equally ecstatic children.
None of my college friends had had kids yet, and neither had my sisters. I had no idea what being a mom was supposed to feel like.
And so I felt like a failure.
Before my son’s birth, I’d talked to my one high school friend who was a mom, desperately trying to figure out what being a mom would be like. Patti lent me her maternity shirts and gave me the single most important piece of advice I ever got about being a mom: find other moms.
Now, I’m an introvert and a homebody. And I’m married to my best friend. Finding a social circle isn’t always natural to me. Nonetheless, when my oldest son was a few months old, I started attending a MOPS group and a moms’ Bible study. One day, another mom shared that there had been a day her kids were asking, “Why is Mommy in the bathroom crying?”
Oh my goodness, I thought, She thinks this is hard, too! It was like a BOB-stroller-sized burden had dropped off my shoulders.
As I got to know the other women, I discovered that it was normal to find parenting hard. That I wasn’t the sole mom who found herself moving a load of laundry from the bed to the chair and back again without putting it away.
Maybe you’re struggling to balance work and parenting. Maybe you’re at home all the time and trying to figure out how to structure your day. Maybe you’ve just moved, or you have health challenges, or your child has special needs. And maybe you feel alone, that no one feels the way you do.