Recently a reader landed on my site by Googling the phrase “Is motherhood hard?”
Maybe she’s hoping to be pregnant soon and is wanting some insight before she takes the plunge. Maybe she is pregnant and wonders what in the world she has gotten herself into. Or maybe she’s already a mommy and all she sees are happy, perfect moms. And she wonders “Am I the only one who thinks this is hard? Am I doing something wrong here? Why is it so hard for me and easy for everyone else?”
If I could sit down and have a cup of coffee with her, or with you, or if you were a part of my local MOPS group and we were talking about real life in one of the discussion groups, then this is what I would tell you.
Yes, motherhood is hard.
Like, hardest thing you’ve ever done in your entire life kind of hard. One of my friends, a fellow teacher, said it best after she gave birth to her first child. She said something along the lines of this: “We’re capable women. We’ve had these careers, we can manage a classroom full of teenagers, and we can earn our master’s degrees. Yet sometimes, we just can’t get the baby to stop crying.” Yeah, I know that feeling.
Motherhood is pretty stinkin’ hard.
I remember taking calculus. That was hard.
I remember juggling graduate school and teaching high school full time while helping out with the youth group at church. And that was so hard.
And I remember learning to ski for the first time. I was mad at the instructor for his lack of patience with the southerners in the group and I just couldn’t get it. I felt like I never would. And then I did. And I made a pizza, snowplow, whatever you want to call it with my skis and I slowly skied down that mountain. And I got it.
But motherhood? You don’t really get it. You never arrive and master it.
You can hit your stride, gain some confidence, and learn how to focus on the important stuff, walking in obedience to the Lord and serving your children. But it’s still going to be exhausting and draining at times. And kids are always changing, so you have to adapt as you move along. Seasons of motherhood change and we have to respond to the ebb and flow, the hills and valleys.
And then there are the heartbreaks of motherhood. Disobedience from children. Losing patience with them again. Wondering Will they know the Lord? Will they walk away for a time or forever? I always think that we moms of little ones have it hard, but then I see my friends who are older and they struggle with different things. Their children can choose for themselves and maybe those choices aren’t quite what mom would want them to be. And all they can do is pray. That’s hard stuff.
There are the scary situations, like sending your baby to the operating room with no idea if he’ll come out OK, much less ever be “normal”–whatever that is. I remember an anesthesiologist sitting me down so that I could sign away my permission for lung surgery for my baby boy. She said, dramatically “Your baby could die in surgery.” And I cried, but what choice did I have? Surgery could go wrong and he wouldn’t make it, but without it, he had no chance. And he’s normal now, but I had no idea that it would turn out this way. Parenting is full of blind curves.
Parenting means making tough decisions on all the minutiae. Before I had kids, I thought everything was cut and dry, black and white, like balancing equations in chemistry or an algebra problem. Input x and your output will be y. Introduce solids at this age and breastfeed until this age, and you’re guaranteed to have healthy children, free of all food allergies. Too bad that’s not real life. Or at least it’s not my life.
And today’s moms are bombarded by information and we have to figure out what to do with it. Suddenly, the type of container your food is stored in matters, as does the tooth paste you give your kids. It’s enough of a challenge to make healthy meals without Pinterest telling you that it has to be cute too and Instagram-worthy. And let’s not even talk about mommy wars and vaccinations and other fun stuff like that. We get to make these decisions and then suffer the consequences in our social circles if we don’t measure up to their standards of being a good mommy. I’m so over the mommy wars.
Yes, motherhood is hard. I have heard the baby cry at 5 am, and groaned at the mere thought of nursing him again because I saw every. single. hour. on that clock last night. And a toddler would be up at 7:30, ready for breakfast and playtime.
Completely exhausted, yet I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Motherhood is so hard.
And it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
It grows me, challenges me, and pushes me to be more like Christ. With every baby, more “waste” is cut back in my life. The stuff that doesn’t honor God has to be tossed out or I’ll never survive this crazy hard life that is exactly what I want it to be.
Motherhood offers a chance for us to see things through their eyes, the opportunity to teach our children and cultivate their precious little hearts. Motherhood is full of joy.
Don’t miss it, mama. Don’t let the hard stuff eclipse the joy. Often, there are only about thirty seconds between the two.
Motherhood is full of snuggles, belly laughs, and that smell. That baby smell they have.
There’s the one year old who wears a stethoscope on his head and declares it to be a hat. The two year old who puts his chubby arms around my neck and says “I’m looooove you, Mommy.” The five year old who announces that she can’t wait to be a mommy one day too. I can’t wait either, baby girl, but let’s slow down a little. I want to enjoy you–your games, your laughter, your flair for the dramatic and your love for all things pink and sparkly.
I’m sure she thinks motherhood is easy. I won’t tell her differently if you won’t.
What about you? Is motherhood easy or hard for you?