The Heaviness Of Motherhood

by Marielle Petkoff
Originally Published: 
Marielle Petkoff

Before having kids, everyone always tells you to enjoy having the freedom to not have to worry about anyone but yourself. It’s hard to fully understand what they’re talking about. Taking care of yourself is all you’ve ever really known, after all. Sure, you have people that you care about and love and even worry about on a daily basis, but it’s not the same as having kids.

Motherhood is so heavy.

From the moment you find out you’re expecting, you literally begin to carry the weight of that child.

They place that squirming, squished-up infant on your chest for the first time and in that instant, your life is changed forever. The feeling is permanently ingrained in my memory. The moment my firstborn entered this world, I felt the heaviness. The connection, the responsibility, and the weight were overwhelming. Despite all the books I had read, forums I had browsed, and blogs I had bookmarked, I felt utterly unequipped, unprepared, and totally undeserving of the perfect little human placed in my hands.

It’s like God literally takes a piece of your heart, gives it chubby hands and scrunchy lips, and places it outside your body for you to care for. It’s extraordinarily wonderful — and indescribably terrifying. No matter what situation is thrown your way, from that moment on, you’re suddenly expected to know how to deal with it. It’s as if birthing a child gives you magical insight into how to raise one. It’s a lot of responsibility, and it’s hard, so hard. So hard. You love that little piece of your heart so much, but you almost can’t bear the weight of knowing you can’t undo this, and that it will never stop — not on the weekends, not on vacation days, and not even on sick days. There are no breaks.

You think back to the freedom of your child-free life and suddenly understand why people called it “freedom.”

Once you become a mother, things that used to seem so easy become so much work, like trying to leave the house on time or running a few “quick” errands. Things that used to feel like basic everyday tasks now feel like luxuries, like having more than five minutes to make dinner, folding and putting away the laundry, or sleeping from night until morning. Things are different when the responsibility of another human being lies on your shoulders, when someone else’s needs come before your own, when the world you once knew suddenly ceases to exist permanently.

It’s almost like there’s a timer in your head, ticking, ticking, ticking. Every time you try to get away or take a break from mothering, it taunts you. You can’t escape it. You try to take a day to yourself, to go away for a week or even just a few hours, but the ticking never stops. You can’t even leave your child with a babysitter without hearing it.

When the party starts going longer than expected, it gets louder. You watch the clock, wondering if your kids are still okay and if you can sneak out without being noticed, pushing yourself to stay cool for just 10 more minutes. Or five more minutes. Or, okay, now, you have to leave now. They probably need you. Your kids need you. You can feel the weight, pulling you back, pulling you home to them. The longer you try to get away or ignore it, the louder it gets. You look at the people around you who don’t have kids, remembering what it felt like to be them, to have the freedom to stay late after the party or to make last-minute plans.

The weight of being a mother is heavy, indeed. Some days, it feels like it’s squashing you, requiring more strength and energy than you possess. The constant and unending responsibility seems like more than you can bear. It’s a lot to carry.

But that’s the thing about lifting weights, it leads to change. The change doesn’t happen overnight; it’s not instantaneous. But slowly, over time, you begin to transform. Each day you get a little stronger, until one day, you wake up and realize you hardly feel the weight at all. The weight has become easier to carry. It becomes second nature, a part of who you are. You carry it with you without even noticing it’s there. You have transformed into a stronger, more capable, more selfless version of yourself without even noticing.

Motherhood is so heavy, but you’re strong enough to carry it.

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