Motherhood (or, a few things that I’m ashamed to admit)

3 Nov

Sometimes I wonder if I was meant to have kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Theo. I really, really love him. He is the greatest. I mostly can’t imagine what my life would be like without him. So let’s be really clear on all that stuff right now.

But sometimes I just wonder if I’m really cut out to be a mother. Like, I think I might just have the wrong personality for it?

It’s not that I think that I’m a bad mother; I think that I’m a loving, attentive parent. When Theo’s around, I spend my time interacting with him, reading and playing and doing puzzles. We sing songs and give each other high fives and plan our imaginary trip to France (or at least, Theo points out France on the globe and yells out Mimi! Mimi!, the name of the French teenager who used to babysit him, while I tell him how great the shopping and dining are). It’s fun, I guess, but I’m just not sure I really get enough joy out of all this. I mean, I am supposed to enjoy it, right? Not just endure it?

I do enjoy some of it, of course. But a lot of it is mind-numbingly boring. Are mothers supposed to find their kids boring? Jesus, I mean, I sound pretty awful here, don’t I?

In many ways, this age is a lot easier than when Theo was an infant. But when he was pre-verbal, I could at least pretend that we were interested in the same things. Lecturing him about feminist rhetoric or telling him long, complicated stories about my favourite historical figures would earn me the same look of wide-eyed interest as reading Goodnight, Moon or singing him the alphabet song. As long as I kept up that sing-song baby voice, or used funny accents, I was golden. The Second Sex, in case you were wondering, sounds great when you alternate between a crisp upper class British dialect and a slow southern drawl. Now that Theo is talking, though, he has definite opinions on what he does and doesn’t like. For instance, he’s really into tractors; unfortunately for me, he’s not so much into Henry VIII.

I tell myself that it will get better. It’ll be easier when he’s older, when I can really teach him about the things I love, like history and science and bad 80s sitcoms. I like that kind of thing; even now, I love taking him places where he can learn something new. For example, he’s probably the only 21-month-old who can point out the lute at the local museum. As soon as he sees it, his eyes light up and he starts shrieking, lute! lute! like a maniac. We talk about how the lute is a lot like Matt’s guitar, and how people used to use it to make music; he seems to understand, and my heart swells when I realize how many new things I help him learn on a daily basis. I think I’m good at that kind of thing, you know? I mean, lute-splaining in particular but also teaching things in general.

Much of the rest of parenting I just find to be grinding and dull, and I feel like I spend a lot of my time alternating between trying to find ways to keep Theo entertained and following him around saying, no, no, no, stop as he attempts to destroy my house. Mealtimes and diaper changes often turn into a power struggle, and by the time they’re over I nearly always feel like a total pushover, and then wonder whether or not my tendency to give in way to easily will result in my kid being a spoiled brat. When I’m home alone with Theo, more often than not I’m counting down the minutes until Matt walks through the door. On weekends, when my friends are making all kinds of fun plans, I’m envious of their freedom and spontaneity. When Monday rolls around, I’m thrilled to be able to pack him off to daycare, and I celebrate by having a quiet coffee all by myself.

One thing I hear a lot about mothers who have nannies for very young children, especially live-in nannies, is, why did she even have kids if she doesn’t want to raise them herself?

I wonder what they would say about me if they knew the truth.

I always thought that I wanted more than one kid, but now I’m not so sure. I’m not sure I ever want to be pregnant again, and I dread the possible recurrence of postpartum depression. And to be honest, I found having an infant really fucking hard all on its own; I honestly can’t imagine what it would be like to have an infant and a toddler. I get tired just thinking about it. I know friends who have done it, friends with two or even three young children, and they make it seem easy. When I look at them, though, I think, better you than me, buddy.

I guess I might just be too selfish to be a mother, or maybe too lazy. It’s possible that I value my quiet personal time way too highly; it’s possible that I flat out don’t have enough patience or endurance for this type of thing. Whatever it is, it’s something that’s wrong with me, not with Theo.

I love Theo with all of my heart. I love him so much, often more than I ever thought possible.

I just don’t always love how he’s changed my life.

33 Responses to “Motherhood (or, a few things that I’m ashamed to admit)”

  1. Jeni November 3, 2012 at 3:44 am #

    Kids are awesome and, yes, kind of boring at times. Why aren’t we allowed to tell the truth about that? If we only loved the constantly fascinating … man … that would be exhausting.

    • bellejarblog November 5, 2012 at 2:44 am #

      Yeah, I feel like it’s pretty forbidden to talk about how lame kids can be. Or, at least, how lame your own kids can be. And people take it as an OMG I HATE MY KID AND REGRET BECOMING A MOM, which just isn’t true. But, like anyone, your own kids are both lame and awesome.

  2. Tara November 3, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    You are not alone. I feel exactly the same way.

  3. joy November 3, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Thank you for writing this. I was in tears last night about pretty much the very same thing, except I took the points you’ve written here and used them to judge myself an awful mother. I’m feeling a bit better this morning; but thank you for letting me know I’m not alone.

    • bellejarblog November 8, 2012 at 1:52 am #

      Oh man, no way! You are an amazing mom! I have for-reals seen you in action, and I have to say: amazing. I think it’s super tough to keep a sense of self and identity once you become a mother. Man, though, you are a great mom with a brilliant kid.

  4. eden November 3, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    Yep, this is me too. And honestly, this stuff *is* a big part of why I’m not having any more kids, and I think that is completely okay.

    I don’t want to do that again. I guess that’s selfish in a way, but I am also 100% sure that if I had another baby, both Isadora and the hypothetical child #2 would suffer from my having put myself through the sleep-deprivation, boredom and anxiety again.

    I’m proud of myself for making it through, and I’m proud of you for what a super awesome job you’re doing. It gets better and better and more fun all the time from here on in.

    • bellejarblog November 8, 2012 at 1:54 am #

      Man, you are like my mom icon, because you are so chill and Isadora is so smart and awesome. I can only hope that Theo will turn out to be as amazing as Isadora is.

      I’m not sure if I want more kids yet, but I know that I don’t want them anytime soon. Like, maybe when Theo is 12 we will have another kid. By accident. But grow to love them, anyway.

  5. Erin November 3, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    Even though I love my kid, I don’t always like him very much, and I don’t always like what having him in my life does to my freedom. Obviously I would never tell him that, but it’s a perfectly ok thing to think! It’s true though – toddlers are boring as companions, and tyrannical as housemates. It gets better.

    • bellejarblog November 8, 2012 at 2:17 am #

      Man, he IS a tyrant. Totally! And he’s incontinent. He has good taste in music though, I’ll give him that.

  6. empressnasigoreng November 3, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    It does get better. I am much more a big kid than a little kid person (as evidenced by the fact that I trained as a high school rather than a primary school teacher). My kids are now 9 and 13 and much more fun and interesting than when they were little.

    • bellejarblog November 8, 2012 at 2:15 am #

      I think (hope?) the same will prove to be true for me – that I am more of a big kid person than a little kid person. I guess we’ll see! 🙂

      • Sarah November 23, 2012 at 7:01 am #

        i know i am. I can’t wait for my daughters to be teenagers, at least they’ll yell back and i won’t feel so guilty!

  7. no shrinking viola November 4, 2012 at 12:00 am #

    I feel exactly the same way. You are not a bad mother, you are honest. Right now, my 7 year old is dancing over and over to Gangnam style in my kitchen and I want to scream. I just want some quiet time and a glass of wine. My oldest is 10 1/2 now and we can talk about all kinds of things. We have some of the same interests and we can walk around the city, looking at architecture or meander through the market. I felt so guilty about just wanting them to be older, back when they were toddlers but now I see that I was right all along. I do enjoy them more now. Don’t get down on yourself. Just find some like-minded girlfriends and have a good old bitch session over a bottle (or two) of wine. You will feel so much better.

    • bellejarblog November 8, 2012 at 2:14 am #

      Wine is definitely a good suggestion. Thanks ❤

      p.s. I bet your kid has mad Gangnam skills, though!

      • no shrinking viola November 8, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

        Luckily most people recognize the Gangnam dance or else they would think he’s insane. He does it everywhere we go.

  8. shannon November 4, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    I could have written this. Every single word.

    “Are mothers supposed to find their kids boring?” I’m at starbucks with Emma right now and she won’t stop showing me her instagram feed. Mom, look! Awww, lookit this one, Mom. Oh this one’s cute, Mom. And then she opened up a sandwich making game and showed me every single sandwich she made and explained in detailed what was on it.

    I almost ran into traffic.

    And this: “And to be honest, I found having an infant really fucking hard all on its own; I honestly can’t imagine what it would be like to have an infant and a toddler. I get tired just thinking about it.”

    It’s why we stopped. I think I’m teetering on being okay with one, two would push me into not-okay territory.

    But god I fucking LOVE the shit out of her, too, Anne. I want to hug her into me. I want to breathe her in. I wan’t to devour her.

    I think it’s the different stages. I know the older she gets, the more I enjoy our time together.

    I dunno. Let’s just love the shit out of them and be okay that sometimes IT’S EYEBROW-PLUCKING DULL.


    • bellejarblog November 8, 2012 at 2:14 am #

      I love you. This actually made me spit out my drink on my keyboard. Thanks for this, homie. SANDWICH MAKING GAME. Oh my sweet Jesus.

  9. theyellowblanket November 5, 2012 at 3:48 am #

    Here are the facts: I have 13 years of experience with kids. As a doula, I took care of more than 60 babies, including 14 sets of twins. I have about 5 years experience being a nanny for various children. There are many, many people who would say I’m really wonderful with kids: I’m attentive, fun, nurturing, and trustworthy. And I would happily amputate a toe or two to have just one kid of my own. AND, there is nothing more boring than being with a toddler or very small child day in and day out. I have enjoyed my work with kids, but it’s boring as shit a lot of the time. You do not have to enjoy it in order to be good at it. My desire to be around children has stemmed more from a sense of duty to nurture than a need to enjoy. That’s the part where being a “good enough” mom is crucial. Do what you’re supposed to—you don’t have to like it. You’ll like it later when they start asking you crazy questions and YOU get to provide them with those earth shattering A-ha! answers.

    • shannon November 5, 2012 at 6:48 am #

      This is what a hug feels like.

    • bellejarblog November 8, 2012 at 2:12 am #

      Thanks ❤
      AND I think you're wonderful
      And ALSO I can't wait until those crazy questions come. I feel like that's something I'll be good at!

  10. only1mzhicks November 5, 2012 at 4:35 am #

    I feel your pain and if you feel like a bad mother. Don’t. Motherhood is 2 full time jobs plus overtime and I live by that motto and you right it does get better with age. I think its unfortunate that we have yo give up everything when we become mommy’s but I’m all for nannies and I would have one if I could afford it. Just stay strong.

    • bellejarblog November 8, 2012 at 2:06 am #

      Thanks. I think that if we do have another, I will definitely get the occasional babysitter for a few hours here, a few hours there earlier on. I wish I’d done that this time, because I really felt the lack of personal time. He’s a great kid though! It’s just, you know, sometimes I want to be around grownups.

      • only1mzhicks November 9, 2012 at 1:17 am #

        I understand completely. I have 3 children now and it’s so hard to get away from the chaos. You just have to remind yourself that they will get older and move out. LOL!!!

  11. greenstockings November 5, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    I’m dreading this already… I’m actually pretty glad that I’m only going to be my baby’s full time care giver for a year. Which is another thing I’m not supposed to say, you know?

    • bellejarblog November 8, 2012 at 2:02 am #

      It’s funny because at a year I was like, nooo, he’s still such a baby! I couldn’t imagine going back then (although I think most of my friends were done being hom full-time by around 9 months). At 18 months, though, I was like, okay, I am ready to be done with this.

      It’s funny how dudes are able to be like WHOA DON’T WANT TO BE AROUND MY KIDS from just about day one, and people are like, oh, haha, men! But women are supposed to want to do nothing but baby stuff.

  12. Marjie Solmundson November 13, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

    I also feel the same way.I never wanted children, and now we have two. I think thats enough for me, Im still puzzled about all of it, and mostly just winging it. But I love them to bits. Out of all of my friends I was the LAST person anyone expected would be a mommy. Thanks for writing this, I actually laughed out loud. 🙂

  13. Sarah November 23, 2012 at 6:54 am #

    God, thankyou sooo much for your blog. I’m so sick of the pc shit surrounding motherhood. I even got into sn argument with my own mother who is perfect in hindsight, was far from perfect in truth

  14. Pam November 30, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    Remember that it supposedly takes a village to raise a child? Well, some soccer coach will one day kick the ball back and forth, over and over, forever, and will love doing that. And that librarian at Story Time? That person can read stories in ridiculous voices for half hours at a time, and will love doing that. And that preschool teacher? That person can praise the goopy paint line on the paper, and can encourage your son to make another and another, all morning long. We can never be everything to one person. Cultivate as many connections as you can to do those things that make you want to kick the ball over the hedge, to hide the books and stick the paint brush in your eye. Just my two cents. (I can’t remember how I got to your blog, but I’m glad I found it.)

    • bellejarblog December 5, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

      Oh, I love this! Thank you for this comment! I totally agree that it takes a village, a concept that sometimes seems totally unachievable in a big, sometimes unfriendly city like Toronto. I’m slowly but surely making the connections that I need, though. Thank you ❤

  15. Katie April 26, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    I am reading random articles on your blog while I listen to the diminishing cries from mr 2 1/2. Mama! Mama! Mama! It’s bedtime and he really, really wanted me to sit with him till he fell asleep. I feel like a terrible mother, which is nothing new.

    I wound up on this entry after clicking PPD. The more I read, the more I thought “this is me, this is my life.” The breastfeeding business. The PPD. The non-prepared-for c-section. The difference? I have two. My first pregnancy was dreamy and my daughter was a textbook hippie mama waterbirth, except we used the hospital’s facilities (we didn’t have to clean up and the tub was bigger than our bathtub.) So far, so all-good. Then — she wouldn’t feed. Lost weight. Screaming battles that never seemed to end. Driving her for an hour so she would get enough sleep to wake up calm and have a half a tummy full of milk…and then start screaming again. (Colic, and reflux. I had a great lactation consultant). Somewhere in this fog I developed PPD, which wasn’t diagnosed until daughter was 9 months old.

    When she was nearly 2 I felt like maybe I could handle this! I don’t hate being a mom. Win! And then I was pregnant again, and I hated being pregnant, and I resented the pregnancy, and it was a hard pregnancy, and I was hard on myself. And I felt guilty for resenting the pregnancy. Etc. Of course, this time things didn’t go smoothly and I wound up with an emergency c-section after 24 hours of labour. I was a mess in the hospital and tried not to let anyone see, pretty easy as my husband was looking after our daughter and I didn’t tell anyone baby had been born, so no visitors. I was a mess because I was imagining the next six months, mentally preparing myself for the first six months of my son’s life to be like the first six months of my daughter’s. This time, though, I thought, I will have the added bonus of recovering from a c-section AND a 2 1/2 year old. AND I will have PPD AND a baby with reflux and colic.

    Know what? None of that happened. Son was a dream baby. Ate and slept and slept and ate, just like the books say. I didn’t suffer a recurrence of the PPD (I mean, I was probably still recovering from the first time — I know I was — but it didn’t get worse). Daughter tried to take over as Mom to “My brother.”

    I don’t know if this had anything at all to do with it, but somewhere along the line I learned to live in the moment. Adults live in the future; children live fully, completely in the present. I stopped basing my expectations on what “yesterday” had been like; I recognised that a good day was just that: one day. And a bad day was also one day. And neither of those things had any bearing whatsoever on what tomorrow was going to be like, except insofar as I created a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    And on a side note, your blog makes me want to write again after a hiatus of ten years. Sending you a cyberhug, in a completely non-weird-stalker way.

  16. esther January 16, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

    After reading some of your blogs about being a mother, I felt that it was so close to what I was going through. Wanting to go back to the life before having the baby, not being sure if I can be a good mom, being tired not only with the everyday demands but also mentally, the demands of being a mature responsible parent. My husband cannot sympathize because he thinks this is a selfish and irresponsible thinking. In fact I am not sure if many people around me would empathize, especially the ones who have children. I feel rather bold to admit this, even if it’s not to other people because it is honest and I think it’s somehow helping me to be honest with myself. Times when I really bond with my daughter, when she shows me that I mean the world to her and that she’s growing and learning , I forget the hard moments . And other days, I just want to be left alone, to have a break, to have a babysitter for as long as I want…and to think that she will need me for at least another 20 years, maybe more. I’m hoping there will come a time, after all this pondering, that I could just come to peace with it all. There will always be good times and not so good times. It’s just a matter of managing time and building up a routine. Soon enough she will become independent and more responsible for her own self. Than hopefully I will have little more freedom and little less chaos…or will I?

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