Ever hear that saying “Motherhood is the hardest job you’ll ever have”? I have — many, many times. In fact, I think that is one of the most common pieces of “wisdom” that is passed down from well-meaning veteran moms to wide-eyed newbies ready to dig in and get their hands dirty.
It’s sweet when you think about it. It’s almost as if they’re passing on a badge of honor that only moms who’ve been through it can give. And I appreciate the sentiment — a lot.
But I think it falls short in really getting to what motherhood really is. Have you ever asked yourself what motherhood is? Sit and think about it for a second. I did this recently on a long drive up to Washington to visit my sister with my family. I constantly try to remind myself what it is I want to accomplish with my blog, and that brought me to this very topic: What is motherhood? I think I’ve figured it out … sort of.
All my life I have wanted to be a mom. I was absolutely certain I was going to be a Betty Crocker-type domestic diva. I had it all planned: homemade everything, no TV, no chemicals, breastfeeding for two years, no pacifiers, homeschooling and homesteading. Yep. I read all the blogs and ate up every bit of mommy advice out there. I envisioned this super close, loving family that would have no conflicts and would always be healthy because somehow, somewhere I had found the answers to all the problems the other moms were facing. *snicker*
Then, reality hit me — and by reality, I mean motherhood.
What is motherhood? I think a better question is: What is motherhood not?
Motherhood is NOT:
- A job. Jobs end. Jobs change. You can quit a job whenever you want. Motherhood is NOT a job.
- A duty. Motherhood can’t be simplified as a duty as though it were an obligation that you were forced or born into.
- A club. This one might ruffle some feathers. Motherhood is NOT a club of women who know better, do better, think better. In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite. I’ll explain more in a minute.
- A phase. Kids may grow up, but a mom is a mom is a mom. Forever. The end.
If you’re like me, you’ve never really thought of motherhood as being any of these things … consciously. However, after careful thought I realized that my perception of motherhood early on was exactly these things — though, I didn’t know it. It was a job I wanted to excel at, a duty I longed to fulfill, a club I desperately wanted to be a part of, and a phase I would enjoy while it lasted.
Oh, boy, what I wish I could tell 23-year-old Katie. Now, six years after joining the “club,” here’s what I’d say to her given the chance:
Katie, sweetie, let’s chat.
All of the things you think you know about being a mom — well, brace yourself. It’s not entirely what you think it is. Motherhood is more than just a commitment or role we play. Motherhood is a part of your identity that is closely intertwined with all other aspects of your life and character. It is a miraculous and permanent change that affects every facet of who you are — a metamorphosis, so to speak.
Motherhood does not replace who you once were; it’s a discovery of a completely different part of yourself you never knew existed. Nourish both parts of who you are. You are a woman AND a mom, forever. Nourishing one side will nourish the other. Giving grace to the one will give grace to the other. NEVER neglect yourself (woman) for yourself (mom) and vice versa, or they will be at war with one another — an internal cat fight that’ll drive you mad.
With motherhood comes some of the most wonderful, fulfilling, awe-inspiring moments that will leave you feeling incredibly accomplished. Motherhood can also be the most depleting aspect of your life. It can (and will!) dry up your reserves and leave you feeling lost and empty … if you’re not careful. Take time to grow yourself, too, not just your child.
Don’t feel guilty for not enjoying motherhood sometimes. Sometimes it’s just not fun, plain and simple — but it IS worth it, even on the days that it really doesn’t feel like it.
Don’t forget yourself. It’ll make you a better you — both the woman and the mom.
Are you struggling to maintain the balance between being a woman and a mom? Check out this post for some tips on how to stay sane while keeping the peace between the two.
Now it’s your turn. Did you have some preconceived ideas about what motherhood would be like before becoming a mom? If you could offer some love and encouragement to yourself before kids, what would you say? Leave a comment below! I can’t wait to hear from you!
2 thoughts on “4 Things Motherhood Isn’t (And What it Actually Is)”
The biggest thing I struggled with as a new mother was perfection. I killed myself trying to keep everything clean, cook healthy food, having a strict schedule and so much other stuff. Now that my kids are teenagers and perfection had been long forgotten and we are lucky to fit a vegetable in once a week, I am so much happier and so are my kids!
I totally relate to you, Amanda! The pursuit for perfection was once (and sometimes still is!) such a hindrance to my own personal joy as a mom. Thank you for offering your perspective and a great reminder to enjoy life as it is, not as it could be! 🙂 Have a great 4th!