If you scroll social media, you might find yourself asking the same question. Are no mothers happy anymore?
Scroll to the bottom of this post to watch a Facebook Live about my struggle to step out of the cycle of complaining and resentment, and step into true joy in mothering.
It was 9pm.
The streets in our neighborhood were dark. We were almost home.
My husband was driving, and our oldest son was in the backseat.
We’d just taken him on his monthly Parent Date, which is rare alone time we schedule with each of our 4 kids. When we get to hear their hearts without the distractions of life and their siblings.
I smiled silently, as I waited to hear what he was going to ask me. He probably had fun at the pier tonight and wanted to thank us for taking him out. Or maybe he just wanted to sweetly say “I love you” as he sometimes does.
“Do you think you’ll ever be on TV again?”
“I don’t think so,” I grinned. “Why?”
I expected him to say that he wanted to watch me on TV, or he thought it’d be cool to tell his friends his mom’s on the news.
But what he said next felt like an ice dagger through my heart.
“So then you wouldn’t have to take care of us anymore.”
My heart sank. I got a lump in my throat. I tried to rescue the conversation and ask why on earth he’d think that, and tell him I love him and his siblings and remind him that he’s so special and I love him so much, and no everything’s going to be okay and I love taking care of them.
I told him all of the things I wanted to believe about myself.
I vomited my words of love and I love you and all the good intentions.
The words were there.
But my sweet boy unintentionally made it clear that night.
My actions and attitude are not.
I felt dizzy as we rounded the last turn before our house.
My son just told me he doesn’t think I enjoy taking care of him and his siblings.
I was shocked. I was shaking. I was shook. Whatever the kids say these days.
How could this be? I have devoted my life to these kids. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for them.
I frantically searched my thoughts for something to make me feel better. ANYTHING.
We said goodnight to our son and paid the babysitter, and as we got into bed, I desperately searched my husband for validation.
Justify what just happened. Tell me I’m not really conveying that I do this job I don’t like. Tell me my family knows I love them.
My husband reassured me they all know I love them.
But he also affirmed the Truth.
“It just doesn’t always seem that you enjoy what you do. You complain a lot.”
And there it was.
All my effort. All my seconds, moments, hours, days, weeks, months, years.
All my love for my family. All the sacrifice. All I’ve stopped my career to do. All I write about. All I live for.
Suddenly it didn’t mean anything.
Because my 9-year-old told me he could tell my heart wasn’t in it.
Don’t worry. I didn’t drive my car off a bridge the next day.
But I did let that night speak Truth into my life and stand as a wakeup call to what I’m doing, and more importantly, what attitude I’m bringing to my life and to my motherhood.
I’ll be honest.
Sometimes motherhood feels like a misery competition.
If you look around, it’s just too easy to vent.
Letting off steam about a bad kid day on social media. Laughing as friends snicker about a husband’s incompetence at dishes at the park playdate. Calling your kids brats in a text to a friend. Sharing memes and GIFs about how much you hate momming today.
I hate writing that paragraph I just did.
Because it’s ugly and sad.
But I’ve done it and I’m betting you have to.
So what’s wrong with me?
Well guys, let’s dissect that one. In general terms, moms today are doing much more than moms were 40 years ago. Most moms work part- or full-time. Whether working or not, we are expected to be accessible, reachable and connected every day, all day. Thanks to social media, we are also expected to be perfect at all of the things. (I’m literally writing a book proposal on this so stay tuned!) Many of us don’t live near family, and don’t have that extra support. The cost of living and childcare are also higher. The list goes on and on.
Do we have stuff to complain about?
Are we justified?
Look, even if mothering is your dream job, you’re still allowed to have bad days.
Every job has its down days.
But how would it change your lens and your words and your thought life to know that your attitude directly impacts your children’s perception of you, and of their place in the world?
Are we choosing to see the beauty in our children, in this time, in this world?
Or are we going to be the first one at that park playdate to vent about it?
Does this resonate with you? Of course, almost everyone complains to a small inner circle. But is complaining the backdrop of everything you do? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Facebook page, or on Instagram. And, be sure to sign up to join my email subscriber list so you never miss a post!