Being a mom is hard. Well, duh, right? Pregnancy, birthing children, and then raising them all while trying to hold onto your sanity is really hard work and also is incredibly emotionally and mentally challenging.
I’ve discovered first hand in the last ten months just how hard it can be. And I’ve also found that there are people that will even shame you just for saying that it is hard to be a mom (insert facepalm here).
It’s about more than the tantrums, no sleep, pooping with the door open, and well, just poop…lots of it. Being a parent (either a mom or a dad) is difficult, but there still are some injustices that seem to continually be served up only to moms.
Being a Mom is Hard, because of…Sexism
As much as things have changed surrounding motherhood and what it means to be a woman, there is still so much stays the same. Dads still get a gold star if they change diapers or “babysit” their own children. Moms on the other hand, get the bulk of the criticism for every parenting choice that they make (or don’t make). A lot of people still don’t understand why women choose to go back to their careers instead of staying home with their kids (even though I’m a stay-at-home mom currently, I certainly do). And those same people don’t understand why there are moms that don’t love being a mom all the time. Example of said people, graphic below. All moms have to deal with the still pervasive logic that they are moms first. Many moms have been asked the question when they are not with their children, “Oh and who is taking care of the kids?” I bet there isn’t a dad in the history of the world that has been asked that (except for perhaps single dads, and I’m not even sure they would be).
It has been documented that most moms will never recover financially, and sometimes their entire career track suffers, from taking maternity leave (if they even get maternity leave) or time off to stay home with their children. When they return to work many face anti-mom bias in the form of being passed over for promotions and new job opportunities, difficulty being able to pump as needed, and more. It has become another form of gender discrimination in the workplace.
Being a Mom is Hard, because of…Mommy Wars
This lovely graphic via the Transformed Wife illustrates a right-wing example of the most common mommy war: stay-at-home moms vs. working moms. Obviously this is an extreme example that does both working moms and stay-at-home moms a gross injustice, but the truth is that moms who make either choice, or are staying at home with their kids while working, often are hit with criticism from the opposite camp. Honestly, I don’t even like the terms “stay-at-home” and “working” moms, but for lack of better descriptors currently, I’ll just have to go with them.
Stay-at-home moms are “lucky” or asked what they do all day. Working moms are criticized for wanting to leave their children at daycare or “prioritizing their careers over their children.” The truth is that many women have the choice made for them, whether they can’t afford to not work, or as is becoming a more frequent occurrence due to the rising costs of childcare, can’t afford to work. Other women go back to work because they want to or stay home with their kids because they want to. Whatever the motivation, I wish that as moms we would give each other a break. We truly don’t know what it is like to live a day, a week, 18 years in another mom’s shoes, so let’s stop criticizing. Moms need allies in other moms, not rivals.
Unfortunately I’ve already seen how moms can be so quick to judge each other for their parenting choices, as I wrote about in my post about feeling like a bad mom. And it makes being a mom incredibly hard when you feel like that the women who you are supposedly supposed to be able to reach out to and gain support from are constantly out to get you.
Being a Mom is Hard, because of…The Mental Load
Have you ever heard of the mental load? It is a term that was developed from a fabulous cartoon drawn by cartoonist Emma. Here’s an example from one of her strips:
The mental load is the planning and organizing that makes everything in your household happen or essentially being the “household manager.” It’s making sure you don’t run out of toilet paper, paying the babysitter, signing the kids up for their summer camps and making their doctors appointments (and then taking them there). This load falls almost completely on women in relationships. Women are tuned into the things that need to be done around the house while often their partners often don’t even see them. And most women will keep on in this role because if they don’t they find that things just don’t get done. This is true of both working and stay-at-home moms.
While my husband helps a lot around the house, the mental load definitely falls solely on me. And since I’m a SAHM I almost feel it’s something I should be responsible for (ugh, SAHM guilt is as real as working mom guilt).
Being a Mom is Hard, because of…Mom Guilt
Speaking of mom guilt…I’ve felt it for accidentally snipping my daughter’s finger with a nail clipper. For passing on an illness to her. For having postpartum anxiety and depression. For not getting her out of the house “enough.” For choosing to formula feed instead of continuing the torture of breastfeeding. For not coming up with more creative activities for her to experience during the day. For leaving her with her father to go to Target to buy diapers or to go to the chiropractor.
Most of this probably seems ridiculous, but if you’re a mom you’ve probably had similar feelings. We shouldn’t have to feel guilty for our life choices. We shouldn’t have to feel guilty for doing the best we can to parent in often less than ideal circumstances. We definitely shouldn’t feel guilty for leaving our children with someone else so we can go to work or even go to the doctor’s office.
How is being a mom hard for you?