Thursday, August 3, 2017

Why Is Motherhood So Hard

Have you heard of Bunmi Laditan? 
She is the mom behind the twitter handle @HonestToddler 
and authored books like "Toddlers are A**holes: It's Not Your Fault" 
which from title alone should be a best seller. 
Her facebook rants have brought me to tears laughing. 
Her wit and sarcasm are outstanding. 

So naturally, when her book "Confessions of a Domestic Failure" came out, 
I had to read it. 
(I was only #54 on the library waitlist - whoohoo.)

It's the story of the Ultimate Hot Mess New Mom 
struggling to become the Perfect Mom 
by following the advice of a Picture Perfect Blogger. 

There's a lot of Bunmi's pee-your-pants-laughing sarcasm, 
a lot that I can relate to (like trying to make stay-at-home-mom friends), 
but it's also really really really depressing. 
It constantly brings up the question...

Why Is Motherhood So Hard? 

Well, I have a theory. 
And it's the old time cliche "village" theory
 (trademark: me).

Long ago, we all lived in villages. 
Our neighbors lived a few steps outside our hut. 
At least a dozen women were lactating all at the same time, 
which meant you had hands-on counseling and emergency backup if needed. 
A few teenage girls would corral and manage the toddlers. 
And there was at least a handful of grandmothers who, 
at any given time, 
would be more than happy to rock a crying newborn to sleep. 

Now, we mostly live in detached single-family homes, 
with neighbors who work all day and then stay inside at night. 
We are miles (perhaps hours) away from family members. 
We are supposed to figure out breastfeeding with a few minutes of help from a impersonal lactation consultant in the hospital. 
When our toddlers need entertaining 
and our crying babies need to be rocked to sleep, 
we have no help. 

I'm sure you've heard variants of this theory sprinkled throughout social media. 
And yes, that's pretty much how I came up with it. 

On the flip side though... 

I do think motherhood is easier for some than others. 

And I don't have a theory on this one. 

Truthfully, when I read Bunmi's book about this Hot Mess New Mom, 
sometimes I'm a little flabbergasted that she can't get her act together

I'm a stay-at-home-mom, too, 
and every day I shower, 
dress in clean clothes and makeup, 
make dinner, 
stay on top of laundry, 
and pickup the house. 

What is so hard? 

Yes, as I've said again and again, 
there are days where I lose my shit. 
I fume,
I yell, 
and I constantly text Adam about a hypothetical "take your toddler to work" day 
because Oliver and I could REALLY use some time apart. 

But still, amidst Oliver's reigning title of Captain Fusspants, 
I can still shower, make dinner, and keep the house clean. 
So what, exactly, is so hard? 
Maybe it's just coping with the loneliness that gets some people done. 
I do miss the imaginary gaggle of SAHM friends. 
Maybe it's a mental game? 
I don't know. 
What your theory? 


  1. I picked up this book at the library the other day on your recommendation. I will let you know some thoughts when I'm done reading it.

    To answer your question, I think it depends on your baby. Life with Sam was easy. He was content to be left alone and would entertain himself in the bouncy seat while I showered. He would lie on the floor and play while I cooked. And he napped for a few hours each day.

    Life with Rachel was harder. She screamed - a lot. And she rarely slept -- maybe an hour during the day, and after five months, in one-three hour stretches at night. I was exhausted. I had a two year old who also wanted some attention. And I was 39. Having a baby at 39 is a whole different ballgame.

    In Edmonton, because I got connected with a New Mom's Group -- set up through the health system -- when Sam was born, and we clicked (like in a HUGE way), I had a great support system. There were five of us who were each others go to people. Plus my parents lived relatively close (a mere five hour drive away), so came to visit, and help out, often.

    When I moved to Ontario with a three year old and a one year old, all my friends had older kids or were working moms. There was no support system and, more importantly, no way to set one up. My parents were 2000 miles away and Dave's parents were working. There was no one. I felt really isolated, and honestly, blogging was what got me through.

    Other moms, and women suffering from infertility, were my support. The other moms "got me" and the women suffering from infertility reminded me to be thankful when things were rough because I knew they would have given absolutely anything to be there. I made some great blogging friendships during that time when I wasn't getting a lot of day to day support from my IRL friends and family.

    This was also where I really connected with Carla, the friend we just visited in Kenya, because honestly she was my only IRL SAHM friend. We spent A LOT of time together.

    So imagine you have the combination of a really fussy baby, no family support, and not much friend support. The thing with motherhood (and parenthood, in general), is that it's all about what support you have. If you don't have it, our society doesn't have a lot of great ways to build it.

    In terms of the daily activities, I think it has a lot to do with personality. I have friends who are not naturally organized or on top of things and they find putting supper on the table every day with teenagers hard. And they've never been able to keep their houses clean.

    All this is to say that while I was never completely overwhelmed, I would say that there were periods of time where I did not have it together -- at all -- and there were days and weeks, and yes, a couple of times, even months, where I struggled through each day.

    Sorry for the novel but I obviously have a lot of thoughts on this one :)

    1. Yikes -- my comment looks like an even bigger novel when actually published!

  2. I think it's exactly what you said. The homeopath I have worked with in the past says the US sets its mothers up to fail. We get help for a week or two and then are left alone, sleep deprived and physically recovering and drained. In other countries families move in for 6 months to help. I think it's harder for some mothers vs. others the same way math is harder for some people - we are all different and handle life and its struggles differently.

  3. Have you seen this video that's going around by this mom:

    She really touches on the whole "it takes a village" thing. People have become so defensive and private about how they raise their kids. No one wants advice or help. Everyone wants to do it on their own in what way they think is best and that leaves out the wisdom of everyone around you. I'm not a mom so I don't know what it's really like, but I do spend five hours a day with 20 three year olds, half of which are special needs and with grad school, I'm a lot of times doing it with no sleep. I know toddlers are hard, but it's my job to understand them. I don't know everything but I have a lot of knowledge and advice about a lot of things that make life hard for moms: behavior, potty training . . . and I learned a lot of it the same way moms learn - trial and error, but also a lot of education (hello tuition bills!!). Yet with all that background, I feel completely pushed out of the convo. I totally have the fear that the woman in this video has. Fear being told to mind your own business. It's not a village it's an island and it's resulted in some messed up kids! My best friends mom has worked in the school system for a long time and she says it just gets worse. They have no control over the kids anymore. You've got a whole generation of kids whose parents didn't want advice. People use to raise kids together and now it's like people are jealous of the mom on the right and judgment of the one on the left, so they block everyone out.

  4. I agree with your theory! And while I do think motherhood is so hard when it comes to actual parenting part, but I do agree that it isn't as challenging as some make it out to be to survive on a basic level (shower, eat, have a relatively orderly house, etc.). I'll have to check this one out!