When Motherhood Gets The Best Of You (And You Feel Like Giving Up)

by Jennifer Craven
A mother holding her baby in her arms and her toddler sitting next to them and eating an apple
SolStock / iStock

You know those stories you hear on the news where a woman disappears and is later found to have been alive, living another life the whole time? Her reason: She just wanted to escape the weight of motherhood.

Selfish, you say. Cowardly. How could a mom ever leave her children?

But I get it. And the reason I know is because yesterday I fantasized about running away. Of course, I would never do it because at the end of the day I love my kids and my life with every ounce of my being. That’s what a fantasy is — a daydream.

So yes, there are times that I imagine what it would be like to escape the constraints of being a mom. Not forever, just a couple days, a handful of hours even.

Yesterday, motherhood got the best of me. It was one of those days when the job of caring for three tiny humans simply overwhelms you. A day full of whining toddlers, bickering siblings, and an infant whose serious case of FOMO means he won’t sleep in more than 25-minute stretches. It was 12 solid hours of listening to tattle-tales, wiping snotty noses, comforting cries, and rocking a fussy baby. Where a 2-year-old wailed if I wasn’t in the same room as her, a 4-year-old melted down because I gave her the wrong color spoon, and a 2-month-old had a serious aversion to any sort of baby seat or swing.

My arms were tired, my mind defeated. My head hurt from the endless shushing and bouncing that in the end were to no avail. The imbalance of give and take in the parent-child relationship was too great.

You win, motherhood. I give up.

So I fantasized about my life before kids and longed for the autonomy that accompanied it. While I aimlessly stirred the butter into the mac and cheese, I remembered what it was like to have a quiet house, take a 15-minute shower, and go a full day without being touched by sticky hands.

Sounds like I’m complaining, huh? Yep, you’re right. I am. Does that make me a bad mom? I sure hope not. What I hope it makes me is human. And honest.

Parenting is the hardest job on earth, so why do we have to pretend that it’s full of unicorns and rainbows all of the time? There are days you just don’t like your kids and you just want to throw in the towel, and the only thing that’s keeping you in a semi-sane state is the fact that regardless of the torture they put you through, you love them so you do it anyway.

Before all the sanctimommies come out of the woodwork to express the appalling nature of my sentiments, let me say this:

I don’t feel this way every day. In fact, these moments are few and far between. My typically calm demeanor is usually capable of trumping the desire to wish it all away. Becoming a parent is a choice — one that I consciously made three times, and I consider it my greatest role in life. I know I’m blessed to have healthy children, a helpful husband. But that doesn’t mean that parenting is not exhausting and that there aren’t days that flat-out suck.

Yes, I know that “this too shall pass,” “someday they won’t need you,” “it goes so fast,” and “they’re only little once.” But on days like yesterday, those well-meaning phrases aren’t the right kind of fuel to get us all to bedtime.

When I’m in the middle of chaos during a day that feels like it will never end, I crave acknowledgement from someone who gets it. A commiserating text to a fellow mom in the trenches goes a long way to feeling like you’re not alone in the parenting crusade.

If I were the praying type, I would probably ask for more patience and fortitude. But I’m not. So until the day when my life feels like my own again, I’ll enjoy the good days and barrel through the not-so-good ones, doing my best not to end up on the nightly news.