No One is an Expert at This “Motherhood” Thing

I had a conversation with an old friend the other day and he said, “when I look at your pictures, it looks like the whole motherhood thing is a breeze for you.” I was flattered of course, but kept thinking about what he’d said later that day. And the next…

Don’t get me wrong: I’m certainly glad it looks that way. But it’s not.

There are days, like today, when motherhood feels especially hard. Every mom likes to blame their child (What is up with him today? Why is he so cranky? He must’ve not slept enough!) but really, the problem comes from within us… the moms. We’re the ones who didn’t sleep enough, are on our periods (ugh, yes, mine is back as of this week… if you were wondering), or are trying to get stuff done instead of devoting all of our attention to our little ones. We are the ones with the short fuses, not them. They’re just babies, remember? 

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Moral of the story: Motherhood is effin’ hard. I don’t think any parent can truly say he or she is “good” at it. You just manage. You do your best… Whatever that means.

My best is leaving my own birthday dinner early because my son is crying over a stuffy nose. It’s getting on all fours on hardwood floors to teach my son how to crawl, or letting him pull my hair out in clumps and smother me with the slobbery kisses I love so much. It’s singing nursery rhymes in the shower and devoting all my time and energy to making him laugh. It’s changing soiled diapers like it’s nothing… even if I need four wipes to get the job done and he won’t stop moving. It’s all good. 

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I live for naps… They’re gifts from God. They’re the only window of time I have to shower, write a blog post or watch an episode of the OC (thanks to Stephanie, I’ve been obsessed and currently feel like a 17 year old schoolgirl), and eat (yes, I’m ravenous 24/7 because of breastfeeding!)

Some days, I don’t shower until 2pm. On days when I teach, it’s really hard to pull myself together and get into “work mode” when I’m exhausted and my brain won’t function properly. I was blessed with a highly dynamic child, which is amazing in so many ways, but is also incredibly tiring.

It’s so rare when I actually do leave the house. It’s just so complicated with a baby who eats every hour and a half (between breastmilk and solids) and sleeps every couple of hours. We’re lucky if we can get groceries done without messing the schedule up. Forget spontaneous — with a baby, you’re planning 48 hours ahead at all times (unless you want a meltdown… that’s your other option.)

The last time I went shopping, I spent more time looking for Liam’s socks down the aisles than for new clothes. The last time we had a night out and I allowed myself to have a few drinks, my husband decided to take overtime the next day and I was left feeling miserable and overwhelmed the whole day with a baby who wouldn’t sit still.


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I told my mother in law recently, “motherhood is realizing that every time you sit back and relax, it’s because you forgot to do something.” Your life changes drastically. I mentally hate my twenty year old self for ever saying “I’m bored” or “I have nothing to do, it sucks”. As a mom, those days are long gone… Turns out there aren’t enough hours in a day! Again, please don’t get me wrong: I’m not hating. I love my new life. I often ask my husband if he remembers our lives before Liam was in it. Our son gave our lives meaning and a true purpose… We wouldn’t change it for the world.

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But to the expecting mamas who wonder if they’ll ever be able to do the whole “motherhood” thing: do yourself a favor and don’t think about it. Because no mom is “good” at it and no mom has a perfect week (if she exists, I want to meet her. Seriously.) We all have days when we keep checking our watches for nap time, and even happen to raise our voices…then, of course, we feel guilty about it for hours, wondering what our babies will think of us. There’s no shame in that.

We live in a world where average isn’t okay. You need to be perfect from your contoured cheekbones to your perfectly manicured toes. Same goes for parenthood: you’re either a crappy mom or you’re Supermom (you know… the kind of mom who makes marble cupcakes and signs her one year old up for weekly piano lessons and ballet. That mom.) We’re all human, and it’s okay to have days when you’re fed up; when motherhood feels like the hardest thing in the world, and you’ve had enough of it.Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 3.05.34 PM

You don’t need to pressure yourself into becoming Supermom — just be you. It’ll be a lot easier that way! And besides, your baby likes you more when you’re on the floor getting dirty with him… not in the kitchen icing those marble cupcakes. Just saying 🙂


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Johanna Riehm teaches in the department of Communication and Media at Manhattanville College and in the department of English at Mercy College. She teaches courses in the history of communication, public speaking, and social media, as well as creative and technical writing workshops. Johanna’s work has been featured in Graffiti Literary Magazine, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Bangalore Review, Cactus Heart Press, and the LaMothe Review. She is working on her first longer work, a creative nonfiction novel called We Carved Our Names in Tamarind Trees.

5 thoughts on “No One is an Expert at This “Motherhood” Thing

  1. Love this – most of our pressures on ourselves are silly and really don’t matter in the long run. We don’t have to be perfect, we just have to be great for our babies.

  2. It seemed like I breezed through motherhood. I worked long hours but took the kids to all of their events and I had never ending energy. Fast forward it to grand kids and they wear me out. Within 5 minutes at that. I feel like I’m failing at it.

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