How Could Motherhood Possibly Be This Hard?

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I want to warn you, before you read any further, that this will not be my typical, dumb humor post. I won’t be telling you some sarcastic, relatable story about a time that my kids did something aggravating, then toss in some “funny” so that you can walk away with the feeling that this is all normal, lighthearted stuff.

If you want to maintain the illusion that my life is perhaps a bit chaotic, certainly full of hard work, but at the end of the day we can all hug it out like an “aw shucks” moment on a family sitcom, you should probably stop reading now.

Because the truth is, my life is hard. Not poverty-stricken hard. Not life-threatening illness hard. I’m well-aware of my many blessings. I’m talking about my day-to-day life as a mother.

photo--How could Motherhood be this hard? Everyone says being a mom is difficult. Nobody said it was easy. But is it really THIS hard? Do other moms experience daily temper tantrums, kid

I’m talking about yesterday, when my 5-year-old son, R, refused to get up and go to church. There was absolutely nothing I could do to convince him to get dressed, so I threw up my hands and said, “I guess you’ll go to church in your pajamas.” My husband then had to carry him out to the van and buckles him in, kicking and screaming, and I had to dive into the back seat and hold him down to keep him from unbuckling and jumping out of the moving car.

I’m talking about the hour long Mass when I had to sit in the back of the church with him and physically restrain him from either A) punching and kicking me, or B) running out of the church and into the street. I’m talking about the fact that I’m calling him my 5-year-old despite knowing that he’ll be 6 in 3 weeks, because I don’t want you to think he’s outrageously immature for his age. (As if it were normal for 5-year-olds to punch their mothers and jump out of moving vehicles.)

I’m talking about a few days ago, when I stayed up late writing and consequently overslept and missed the girls’ swim practice. Nine-year-old E woke me up in her bathing suit. I jumped up, looked at my phone, and gasped. “Oh no, honey!” I said. “I overslept! We missed practice! I’m so sorry.” She stomped out of the room to inform her sister that the 2 of them were not to love me anymore. She then proceeded to scream at me, from every room of the house, for the better part of an hour. She said she wanted me to go to prison. Or die. Either one was fine with her.

I’m talking about the fact that I had to hide in the bathroom when my babysitter first arrived the other day so that she wouldn’t see that I’d been crying.

I’m talking about the fact that my daughter has a health condition that requires strict adherence to a bathroom/water/diet schedule, and I can’t get her to follow it without an enormous fight every day.

I’m talking about 2 days ago, when my 8-year-old threw my lunch across the room because I told her to go upstairs.

I’m talking about chore time, and how there has never been one single day when all 3 of them have done their chores without screaming at me and declaring that they wanted to live somewhere else.

I’m talking about the hours I spend writing, and the guilt I feel when I can hear the kids shouting at my husband while I stay locked away in my office.

There is no “but” at the end of this list. I’m not leading up to some concluding sentiment of happiness and satisfaction with my parenting life despite the trials. Yes, of course I love my children. I’d give my life to protect them, and if I could do it over again, I would still want to be a mother.

But there are days when I wonder, “Could this really be motherhood? Could it really be this hard?”

I know of no other mom who still has to carry her 8-year-old to time out because she will never, ever go there on her own. I know of no other family who can’t make it through a single family dinner without someone crying or throwing a tantrum. 

As I’m writing this, I’m imagining dozens of my friends and acquaintances reading it with furrowed eyebrows. Whoa! We didn’t know that Nicole was such a terrible mother! How did she raise such miscreant kids?

Sometimes, I bring this up to another mom, but I don’t really tell the whole story. I say something like, “Wow, you wouldn’t believe what happened today! I feel like the worst mother ever!” Other Mom always responds, “We all have days like that! Don’t feel bad!”

But this is not one day. This is all the time. Yes, we have nice moments. Yes, we have more happy minutes than craptastic ones. But it seems like every single day, there is at least one blow up. At least one moment when someone hates me and never wants to see me again. At least one raging, screaming fit.

So I’m back to my original question. Is this normal? Do other moms experience this type of utter misery nearly every day of their lives? I don’t know if I want the answer to be “yes” or “no.”

I know that people usually keep this kind of thing private. Nobody posts photos of temper tantrums on Instagram. I know I don’t. If you check my Insta feed or Facebook page, you’ll see plenty of evidence that my family is happy, healthy, and carefree. And we are. But we’re also loud, miserable, and dangling from a rescue helicopter over a crocodile-infested swamp, and our hands are getting sweaty.

I’m not looking for advice. I’ve talked to friends, family members, and professionals. I’ve read every parenting book and tried every “method.” This isn’t happening because I don’t know what to do. The opposite is true. I don’t know what to do because this is happening.

If you’ve never had to deal with a problem like this, I’m happy for you. I mean it. I’m really happy for you. But if you’re like me, and you’re wondering how everyone but you seems to have their motherhood shit together, please know that it’s not everyone but you. You’ve got at least one sister-in-arms. Let’s drink wine together.

 

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50 comments

  1. Oh Nicole, I know I’m a dad but this blog makes me miss my kids , Oh the wonderful times we had being horrible parents, it’s just like it was yesterday, my boy is 31 and daughter is 29 and have their own families And turned out pretty good , So you and your husband are doing all the right things , it’s not hard , it’s life !
    Your blogs are always so good and make me laugh ! thank you and God Bless You and your Family !

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi! I found you on #TwinklyTuesday! I have 6 kids who are now all adults. I didn’t have any with medical conditions which must add to your stress. But, I remember that in different phases of the raising years the screaming and fighting seemed constantly there and during other times it would be better. I learned that it helped if I screamed and cried less! And when we would take time to have quiet times all together with our family to pray together and tell our children how much we love them always helped to set a better tone in our home. Hang in there! Now that my kids are adults, we all still love each other and they are awesome!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you for your comment! It really does help to hear from parents whose kids have grown past this stage! It really does feel like a constant struggle. If I’m looking at it objectively, I suppose we do have some periods of calm too. It’s just that right now it feels like this never ending, miserable struggle.

          I’m trying my best to scream and cry less! And I take as much advantage of those quiet moments as I can! Thanks for commenting!

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  2. Yes! Parenting is the hardest, craziest but most wonderful experience! I have 2 teenagers now and it is not easier as such…..just different. Each stage has it’s challenges and it’s wonder. I remember my almost 5 year old son having the mother of all tantrums and I had to carry him across a very busy street under my arm as he was trying to scratch my eyes out basically! Thats hard with a child this age as they are so strong and it hurt. I locked him in the car and he trashed it whilst I sat on the pavement sobbing. It was awful! But, he eventually calmed down and everyone went on to live another day! He is now a delightful 15 year old. 6 foot 3 and the most calm and mature boy! Good luck! I enjoyed reading your site too. #TwinklyTuesday

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! It’s nice to hear from parents who have been there, especially since you’re kids are older and presumably all of them are still alive! I keep thinking about my son getting to be that tall–mostly in terms of “how will I ever carry him to time out when he’s bigger than me???” Oh dear God. Please tell me I won’t have to carry anyone to time out after they’ve outgrown the weight of my workout dumbbells. Maybe I should do more pushups.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I only have a two year old, so we’re not quite at the stages you’ve described yet, but I think you’ve hit the nail on the head when you say that it’s more about people not sharing it on social media, or even in conversation. I bet you’re doing a much better job than you think you are! #DreamTeam xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I honestly think that this is way more common than it seems – social media allows us to portray the best and hiding the worst. Zach is almost 5 and honestly the last few months have been hard. There is barely a day when I don’t end up screaming at him. You are not alone lovely. Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Totally echoing everything above! Social Media is the devil for comparison. I have to say that we have periods of really truly awful behaviour from our 9 year old. It comes in waves and I suspect it is to do with her own development. But you have three extra kids and if they’re all going through ‘stages’ at different times, it means you have the awfulness more often than not. Are they all awful together? I bet they’re not. Keep going lady. You will get through this- it just feels like complete and utter hell right now. Wine definitely helps. So does time to yourself. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Alisa! Yes, it does help to think of it from that perspective. Statistically speaking, if you’ve got enough kids, one of them should probably be screaming at any given moment.

      Yes, people don’t share everything on social media. (I don’t!) I really wish I knew: What does a “normal” family look like? Probably the answer is: there’s no such thing.

      Like

  6. Great post. There are few bloggers who would bear it all as you have here. As parents we all have these times. We are having a complete nightmare with our 2.5 year old at bedtime. It can take us a couple of hours to settle him. It’s stressful. Our 5 year old daughter goes out of her way to wind us up. We do love them, but at times I’ve wondered why!
    #DreamTeam

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me! As I said to a friend earlier, I’m not glad that you’re going through something like this, but it is comforting to know that my family might not be abnormally horrible. I think my daughter tries her best to make us angry too. It’s like she’s thinking, “They’re trying not to yell at me, but I bet I can make them lose it!”

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  7. You are a beautiful person, with loads of experience that needs to be shared obviously. And you know the kind of house you grew up in was crazy too. Hang in there. My prayer used to be. Lord, help me keep them safe until they grow up. Higher power did and you guys did too!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. By some grace of a miracle my children have somehow with behaviour much like you describe survived to their teenage years. We aren’t even close to surviving the teenage years but with the same grace we will all get through. You are doing ok and your house sounds like a perfectly normal house to me xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your wonderful comment! I actually feel a lot better now that I’ve posted this as I’m learning that other families experience similar stuff. It sucks that we all have to go through this, but at least we’re all in it together. Now the question is, are your kids aware of how amazing it is that they made it through? Lol!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I have a 3 year old, and we’re in what is dubbed the ‘threeager’ phase supposedly – yet it definitely doesn’t feel like a phase but a daily battle for the past eight months since he turned 3. An overnight switch. We have lots of lovely moments in a day as parents, and also lots of pretty rubbish ones with a lot of negative emotions, however I think the reason we mostly share the positive ones as they are the ones that get us through the day and keep us going. Parenting is seriously hard work, but you aren’t alone in that, regardless of what others are sharing. And it most definitely isn’t just your children! #DreamTeam

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    1. Thanks so much for your great comment! It sucks that any of us have to go through this, but it’s nice to know that my family isn’t abnormally horrible. I remember the “threenager” phase well. I have a 2 year old who will be there soon. Please send wine!

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  10. ❤️ I feel you. Mine is only two And motherhood sucks already. Social media makes it frustrating because people always say, whether they’ve had a good day or bad, that they love being a mom. And most of the time I just don’t like being a mom. At all. I love my kid like crazy, but don’t love actually being a mom.
    I see every emotion from him about a hundred times every day. It’s hard to keep up with. I don’t know how to deal very will with the tantrum and the anger he’s been displaying lately. I don’t know how to teach him to have a better attitude. Which makes me feel like I’m not going to be able to raise him to be a decent person. It’s scary. And so rough. I just really feel this post. ❤️

    Like

  11. This sounds totally normal to me!! Not sure if that is good?! Mine and 2 and 5 now and everything is a struggle! My daughter is 5 and gets carried to the naughty step whilst having a tantrum quite regularly. My two year old is just impossible and refuses to do anything I want him to do. We’ve not entered the ‘come back’ stage yet, but I’m greatly looking forward to it 😛 Most people say to me they’d like to say it gets better, but it just gets different!!

    Like

  12. I’ve only got one to contend with he will go through phases of being the sweetest and most helpful child alive followed by phases of just bring horrible and everything is a battle that makes me not want to leave the house. And that’s just one. #coolmumclub

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right now I feel like this is a never ending “phase.” In reality, it’s probably just that my kids are taking turns going through phases and it just seems never ending to me. How old is your little one?

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        1. Jim Gaffigan did this bit where he imagined his kids coordinating a schedule so that they could take shifts annoying him. I wouldn’t put that past my kids!

          Like

  13. There are far too many moms out there who feed into the illusion that motherhood is a nice, fun, easy thing. The truth is, no one is perfect and it is HARD. My son is only 9 months old and there are times that I don’t know how I put up with it. I don’t know why everyone around me with children doesn’t look as tired as I feel… And that’s all ok. It’s just part of the reality I suppose.
    Thank you for putting it so blatantly out there. It’s a job, it really is, to be a mom and raise our children. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Reading this took me back to last week – I rang my Mum in tears because I just couldn’t face another moment of potty training, tantrums or dinner refusal. No major things, but it had just got to me big time! Motherhood ain’t easy, not by any stretch of the imagination…
    Thanks for sharing with #coolmumclub and thank you for being so honest.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Oh dear. I feel for you. My twins are only 3.5, but one of them in particular is terrible for tantrums – screaming, shouting, hitting, slamming doors. He really really winds me up. It’s so hard to control my own feelings when he’s like this. I’ve tried all the tips, getting down to his level, hugging it out, talking not shouting. But nothing works. I find it so hard to not just say “oh just f*ck off then you little shit!”. But of course you can’t, not out loud anyway. I dread that this is a sign of the type of person he is. That he’ll always be the one causing disruption and upset. I can only hope that it’s a phase and not the future. As parents the struggle is real! It’s real life. But like you say it’s not portrayed so much on social media. It should be! Solidarity!
    Keep being as strong as you can be. Until then – chocolate/wine (delete as appropriate).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I know! I worry the same thing! What if they grow up this way?? People keep telling me that it’s normal and this doesn’t mean that they’ll be like that when they’re older, but that doesn’t stop me from worrying. And then, of course , I worry that it’s my fault, and I wonder what I did to make them this way. Ugh. Chocolate and wine it is. This is why I can’t lose weight.

      Like

  16. Hi Nicole! Oh my goodness, I feel exhausted just reading your post. You are so right about lots of parents not posting the tantrums and grumps on social media. No one really wants to see those do they, but because of that very reason, it’s makes tantrums feel even worse. Especially when you wonder if it’s just you that this is happening to. I don’t think it is. Honestly. We only have the 1, and she’s still little, so we haven’t got to this type of thing yet. But I can just imagine it for the future. Stay strong mamma. #DreamTeam x

    Like

  17. My boys have thankfully gotten through most of the meltdown stages, but I’ve been there with you. That doesn’t mean that even thought they don’t throw epic tantrums any more at 7 and 8 that one of them doesn’t usually tell me that his life sucks or that he wants to live somewhere else, every day. Now, to talk about my daughter. Yes, I would do anything for her. Adopted her on Wednesday. However, that doesn’t mean that every day is not a struggle with her over her lack of desire to wear clothing. Every day we have an epic battle on putting on clothing and wearing panties. Every day! I hate dealing with her clothing issues. She takes them off. Leaves them half on. Cries and screams every time she has to put clothes on. It is exhausting. She’s 4. I’m hoping 5 is better.

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    1. Oh my goodness! Congratulations on the adoption! That must’ve been an enormous thing to go through on its own! You know, I remember my little cousin never wanted to wear clothes when he was around that age. One time he took them off in front of my high school boyfriend, which was embarrassing! But I’m happy to report that I’ve never seen him walk around naked as a grown up. Lol!

      Seriously, though, I know what you’re going through. It’s ha d. It really is. Stay strong, mama. I’m right there with you.

      Like

  18. Motherhood really is hard, I think if it was easy there would be many many more children on this earth. My girls are only 1 and 3 so I can only imagine what it could be like when they reach your children’s ages. Our days never run smoothly either and I am lucky if we escape the day without at least 2 or 3 tantrums. You’re definitely not a bad mother, if anything, reading this makes me feel like you’re a great one. Thank you for sharing with #bigpinklink.

    Like

  19. You are not alone. I only have one daughter & I am a single parent, recently coming out of an extremely abusive 7 yrs marriage. My daughter hits me and screams at me & asks me where Dad is etc. like its my fault her Dad left us. She is violent, aggressive & literally never listens to anything I tell her to do. I am living in doubt day & night that I am the one to be blamed because whenever we are out in public she behaves same way, screaming, shouting & hitting me. And I don’t know what to do about it; other parents make judgemental remarks, which makes me doubt myself even more. I love her to bits, she is my whole world but I don’t know how to fix this problem.

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    1. First of all, I want to say that he you are brace, strong, and selfless. Thank you for taking that first, terrifying step toward making your family whole.

      The second thing I want to tell you is, this is not your fault. Please understand this. I know it’s hard to internalize right now, but it is Not. Your. Fault. How old is your daughter? It sounds like she learned some violent habits from your ex. Give her some time. She’s confused and you’re the only person available to take it out on.

      In the meantime, have you thought about counseling? Two of my kids see a counselor. I do too. There’s no shame in that. If you need help, you get help. A professional should be able to help you understand what’s normal behavior, what’s not, and give you some strategies to help make things a little less difficult.

      Thank you for your wonderful comment. I want to say, I know what you’re going through, because my kids are doing the same thing. But I didn’t start out where you did. You are a brave, strong mother who took that first difficult step toward family harmony. Someday, your daughter will thank you for it. Love and prayers.

      Like

  20. Nicole
    I went crazy every day when my now 23 year old was a boy and I had to realize that he was feeding off me. I was losing my mind and was not able to stay calm like I needed and would argue back. It would go on for hours and it was horrifying. I learned that quiet consistent responses bored them and they eventually gave up. I am a second time parent and now pray daily with and for my kids and it’s a calmer environment. (Yes I realize kids are different but still). I also became a nutritionist and recommend taking processed foods out of their diets. It sucks because it’s extra work but it dramatically changes behavior. I put together a free meal plan that I also used to throw away my wheelchair from MS and I will give it to you. I’m serious about taking the processed food out of their diet. Read labels and ignore the Dr’s who want to put them on medication. (Don’t know if you have had that happen yet but beware. Some well intentioned Dr’s have destroyed lives with ritalin; my son was one. )Your not crazy sister, this IS hard stuff and I’ve been there. Diet will help. Call or email me if interested. I’m not selling anything, I’ve just been there! 928-429-9187

    Like

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