There’s no shortage of comments that wax poetic about motherhood — you just need to scroll through social media, watch a few minutes of TV, or read a blog post and you’ll see things like “Being your mama brings me never ending happiness and joy,” or “My reason for living! Being your mom is the best thing that ever happened to me!” or “My world!!! I never knew what love was until I had you!”
From the moment my daughter was born, these types of comments about motherhood — that motherhood is this thing that brings women so much joy, that there is nothing more important in the world than the mothering role, that parenting brings women a happiness that they never could have imagined — made me feel as if something was horribly, fundamentally wrong with me, and made me feel incredibly alone. Because, guess what?
I don’t love being a Mom.
My whole life, I never imagined not being a mother. I grew up absolutely loving children. I babysat, I taught swimming and dance, I was a camp counselor. I was that cousin and aunt that got on the floor and played non-stop with the littles in the family. I got a lot of joy from being around children. The inevitable journey of motherhood that I knew I wanted to take even made me second-guess my career as a physician — did my lifelong love for children mean it would make more sense for me to be a stay-at-home Mom? Having kids, to me, was a no-brainer.
I had to face the realization that I didn’t find motherhood stimulating or fulfilling. I mostly find it to be boring, frustrating, thankless, and repetitive.
After my daughter was born, I waited. I waited to feel that joy, that spark, that feeling of absolute satisfaction and joy that motherhood was supposed to bring me. I made excuses as to why I didn’t connect with other women who seemed to absolutely love their role as mothers. You have postpartum depression. Once this passes, you’ll love motherhood more. Of course she loves being a Mom, she doesn’t have a colicky baby. Her baby is “easy.” She’s lying, she doesn’t love it! It’s all an act.
As the years passed, I had to face the realization that even as my daughter got “easier” and my postpartum depression lifted, I didn’t come to find motherhood any more stimulating or fulfilling. I mostly found it (and still do) to be boring, frustrating, thankless, and repetitive. Preparing meals. Cleaning up. Wiping faces. Driving. Laundry. Some more cleaning. Crying. Whining. Some more crying. Repeat. The stark reality that I didn’t find the joy or fulfillment in motherhood that I always assumed I would rocked me to my core.
I had no way of knowing this would be my motherhood experience until I experienced it. Knowing that this is the reality of motherhood for me, I probably won’t have any more children. Seeing my friends pregnant with their second (or third) children doesn’t make my ovaries hurt, or my uterus feel empty. I feel panicked and trapped at the thought of another child in my life. My smart, energetic, funny and spunky daughter takes all of my energy. I don’t have any more to give.
The stark reality that I didn’t find the joy or fulfillment in motherhood that I always assumed I would rocked me to my core.
Let me assure you — my almost four year old daughter is an amazing little girl, and has an incredible life. I promise she is deeply loved, not only by my husband and I, but by extended family and friends as well. We play games, read books, watch movies; we go outside, we go to playgroups; we run and jump; we take swimming and dance lessons. We snuggle, we cuddle, we kiss and she tells me I’m her best friend 348,374,837 times per day. I don’t regret having her.
It’s not easy, but I’m learning to accept that I’ll never be that Mom who wants to homeschool my kid, or that wants her to stay home with me when I have a day off instead of sending her to daycare. This is my normal, and it’s okay. I need my work as a physician to feel happy. I am an extreme introvert, so I also desperately need my alone time, in a quiet house. I need to recharge without a little body crawling on me, and wanting snacks, and asking me why the sky is blue, and needing me to sit beside her while she poops. Maybe the baby and toddler years just aren’t for me and as she grows, my enjoyment of motherhood will grow too. Or maybe it won’t.
It is so taboo to express discontentment with motherhood that it’s difficult to find like-minded people who might be going through similar feelings. If you’re a mom, and you don’t love it, you are not alone. Next time you see or hear other people exclaiming about how fulfilling parenthood is for them, or how happy it makes them, or how they wish they didn’t have to work so they could stay home with their kids — and you find yourself feeling guilty and terrible for not feeling the same way — remind yourself that not everyone loves the job of parenting, and that doesn’t mean you love your child any less than someone who does.