I listened to an interesting podcast a few weeks ago. It talked about mothers who don't actually like motherhood. The mothers who wrote into the podcast for advice listed all sorts of reasons they hated motherhood. Tantrums, lack of sleep, sticky fingers ... imagine all the things about motherhood that are hard and not so rewarding and those are the things that made their list.
As they went on and on about all the things they hated about motherhood, I kept nodding my head in agreement. More than once I shouted an enthusiastic yes when I especially related to the mother's complaint. I have a secret: I don't really love motherhood. I love and adore my children, but motherhood isn't my favorite thing. I normally don't admit this to anyone and have never announced it in such a public place as the Internet. But I think it might be worth saying: I don't like motherhood, but that doesn't make me a horrible person.
The podcast host had a therapist come on to talk about how these mothers were feeling and what could be done to help them. The therapist pointed out that mothers don't have to love or even like motherhood. We offer get caught up in the role of motherhood and forget that the core of motherhood is the relationship with our children. I can have a strong, living relation with my children while disliking the motherhood role. Does that make sense?
I almost think we sabotage ourselves as mothers by putting too much emphasis on how we fill the motherhood role, choosing first the wipes, then - after school programs etc., and forget to nurture our relationship with our kids. We focus on packing the perfect lunch complete with cute, handwritten notes. We focus on making sure our kids have unique, elaborate and handmade Valetine's Day cards to hand out. Or we focus on throwing extreme birthday parties with lavish goody bags. All the while we are miserable and we're no closer to our children.
The role of motherhood is just that: a role. The relationship we cultivate and nurture with our children is far more important than nailing any role we might be playing. I've been reminding myself of this a lot lately. When I feel frustrated and overwhelmed, I ask myself "Am I doing this to be seen as a master of the motherhood role? Or does this really strengthen my relationship with my child?" If it's the later, then I trudge on and make it count. If it's the former, I release myself from the self-imposed obligation and let it go. Oh man, had this been helpful. And guess what, it makes me dislike motherhood a little less.
The other trick I've found helpful in this regard is outsourcing motherhood and domestic crap that makes me unhappy or frustrated. I don't clean my own home. I know that sounds so spoiled. But I hate cleaning and it makes me cranky. The money we spend on a housekeeper is money well spent because it lifts the burden of keeping house off my shoulders and puts me at ease. I rarely help the kids with their homework. Mike does that. It stresses me out and I really don't have a ton of patience, so it's better everyone involved if we save homework for when daddy gets home.
When I was a kid I was certain I'd have six children of my own. And then I became a mother and I knew I wasn't cut out for six kids. Heck, two is a stretch for me. But I love my children and each day I pour my heart and soul into having a great relationship with them. In the end, that's what matters. And so what if I hate motherhood. It's okay. It's all okay. Do what works for you (or in this case, me). Worry less about the role and more about the relationship.