There is a pervasive mom myth exploding the internet, and I have fallen prey to it.
The myth is this: that motherhood is the hardest thing ever.
Now, before you start slinging accusations or reminding me of my one child or pointing to the fact that I’ve only been doing this mothering gig for fifteen months, hear what I have to say.
There are mom blogs and mom podcasts and mom vlogs and all the mom things on the internet. This is wonderful! We are a community and we come together to talk about the little things that are challenging or amazing, along with the monumental things that stretch us or fill our souls. Far too often the mom-o-sphere moves from supporting one another to validating the myth that mothering is just the hardest thing ever and we all deserve a cookie.
Things motherhood can be: exhausting, amusing, hilarious, frustrating, fulfilling, long, short, sweet, bewildering, confusing, thought-provoking, repetitious, joyful.
Things motherhood is not: only hard. only bad. only exhausting.
You want to know what is the hardest thing ever? Being a mother in a Syrian refugee camp. What else is really hard? Mothering a child dying of cancer. Anything else super hard? Navigating the motherhood of a child with special needs as they grow into an adult child. There are some really, genuinely difficult mothering challenges out there. Too many for me to even imagine.
We inflate the everyday mundanity or minor skirmishes of motherhood into epic proportions to justify our feelings. Our feelings are legitimate and should be acknowledged and shared and used in a helpful well, rather than to perpetuate the myth.
Stop complaining about how your child pooped in his car seat. Stop bemoaning the fact that your children keep arguing. Quit discussing the fact that your kids are going to be home with you. all. summer. long. Stop telling us how you just have to go to Target or Starbucks because you just can’t take having to remind your child not to throw their food on the floor. This is part of the job you signed up for when you decided to create and raise another human being.
Everyone has jobs, and every job has unique difficulties.
There will always be hard things in all the jobs. And if you have an outside job AND a mom job then you’re tackling two jobs! There will likely be twice the hard things! (Or it might even be an exponential equation–I’m not sure.)
What I am sure is this: it is time for us mothers on the internet to find a way to share the good and the bad without making us out to be victims. We need to stop focusing on the hard parts too much. We need to remember that we chose this and we get to do this work. What mothers need online is a listening ear AND encouragement that motherhood is good, hard, holy work.
Find someone to talk to if you’re having a difficult day or a challenging season in your job of mothering. There will be oh-so-many hard things in this work and you need to find your supports to help you through them. And if you have a voice online or in your community, focus on the lifting up of mothers–which includes validation–and the joy of our children.
Above all, stop contributing to the myth that motherhood is the hardest thing ever. Instead, spread the love and joy and truth that being a mom is one of the most exciting and amazing things ever.
(and also, maybe think about doing something nice for those other mothers who, for whatever reason, are walking a really hard mothering road. the mom on the cancer unit could surely use a Starbucks and someone to sit with her. and all the Syrian mamas could probably use our prayers and our dollars.)