I am the oldest of 5, 2 sisters and 2 brothers, and we loved playing little games like store, hair salon, restaurant and school. I hope we weren’t the only ones who liked to pretend that we were adults, and make up fun little scenarios based on our perceptions of these places. As fun as it was to recreate all of those places, my absolute favorite was always playing house, and I always wanted to be the mom. Not just because I was the oldest (and maybe the bossiest) but because I wanted to be a mom. I really cannot ever remember a time when I didn’t want to have children, it’s always something I planned to do. As I got older, my “maternal instincts ” held strong and I loved babysitting and holding babies anytime I got the chance. I was a pretty popular babysitter, because I loved kids and they loved me, it just felt really natural.
I married a great guy who also wanted a family, and I was so excited to become a mom when the time came. After 20 really long and frustrating months of trying, I was finally pregnant with my first son. I had Pinterest boards full of decor, and clothes, and parenting articles…I knew just what I wanted and what things I was never going to do. I was just going to love motherhood, every single second of it, so much. I really set myself up with some crazy expectations. I am not at all saying that having these amazing expectations was necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t think I ever sat down and thought “What if Motherhood isn’t anything like I imagine?” What would I do if x,y,or z didn’t go the way that I expected it, what would be plan b? I didn’t really talk to my husband much about it either, sure we discussed the big and important things, but not so much the little expectations that we had placed on being parents.
The very day we brought my son home, my husband and I got in a fight over thermostat. Really it was miscommunication, but it happened all over the temperature of the house. It seems so silly now, but at the time it was real, And as the days went on, as much as I loved being a mom, and really I do love it more than anything, I was surprised and confused at how I was feeling. I expected sleepless nights, I didn’t expect to be frustrated and my little guy, and the way he expressed his needs. I expected to be overwhelmed, I didn’t expect to feel drowned in house work. I expected mood swings, I didn’t expect to lose it over the thermostat or how my husband changed a diaper. I just wasn’t the mom I expected to be. And maybe you’re reading this and thinking “Duh, everyone knows Motherhood is so different than you expect” but I guess I just didn’t realize how it would be different.
As my sons first year went on, I really struggled with feelings of confusion and inadequacy. A lot of it was Postpartum Depression and Anxiety talking, but not all of it was caused by that. Or maybe it was, but I think some of these feelings were different than anxiety or depression. My little guy was turning into a toddler, and oh it was so fun watching him learn and grow. I would read to him, and talk to him, we would play hard and love harder. But, I still got frustrated easier than I wanted to. I still needed a break more than I thought I would. I still argued with my husband over every.tiny.detail. Why was this happening?? Why couldn’t I just be that mom I had pictured all those years? Where had I gone wrong? Why couldn’t I do it “right”? My husband was ready to add to our family before I was. I needed time, time to figure out what was going on in my head.
When he was 19 months old, I felt like I wanted another baby. He was rapidly changing into a big boy, and I was ready for a tiny baby. Being pregnant with a toddler was an exhausting experience, but I really did love watching him process everything. During my pregnancy with my daughter, I was actually feeling pretty good about myself as a mom. Or maybe I was just too exhausted and busy growing a human, to dwell on those flaws, I don’t know.
I had no doubt there would be room in my heart for my daughter, but now that she was earth-side, I was nervous. Had I learned anything from the frustrations I experienced with my son? Or was history just going to repeat itself. I’ve had many a sleepless night, where I replay scenarios in my head and think “when this comes up with his little sister, will I handle it better?” Sometimes I would even think that as a situation was happening, like an internal check of my progress. Things were better, I understood normal newborn behavior and had some more realistic expectations. Still, at the end of the day, I still wasn’t the mom I thought I would be and it ate me up inside.
As my daughters first year continued on, I continued to be disappointed. No, not everyday, and definitely not at my children or at being a mom in general. But I was so focused on the mom I WASN’T, that I didn’t take time to focus on all the things that I was doing. I get frustrated easy, and often react instead of being proactive. Yes, I need a break sometimes, I am not the mom that can be around her kids 24/7 without taking a breather. I am not a naturally crafty mom, so lets just be grateful for the Dollar Spot at Target and awesome Pinterest tutorials. I am not always a calm mom or a good at decorating mom. I am not an on time mom, I am not a fit mom, and I am not a very organized mom.
I am a fun mom, and I am a mom who isn’t afraid to try new things. I am a mom who loves hearing her babies laugh, and a mom who takes way to many pictures. I am a mom who actively looks for experiences that will excite my kids, I am a mom who tries really hard, I am a mom who is growing and evolving. And I am a mom who loves way too deep.
So no, I may not the mom I thought I’d be. But that’s okay, I am the mom I was meant to be.
Find more of my musings on motherhood here.