I always wanted to be a mother. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. In High School, a friend and I had these cue cards with names of imaginary kids written out. We gave them persona’s and birthdays. One day, I would be that bustling stay at home mom with an armful of babies and I would be happy. Or so I thought.
I spent most of my adolescence and young adulthood thinking that if I had a baby, I would finally have something to do that gives me joy and completes me. But then I had a baby, and I felt more lost than ever before.
For me, motherhood feels like a broken dream. Maybe it was my colicky first baby, or the prenatal depression during my second pregnancy – but motherhood didn’t bring me the joy and happiness that I expected. Instead it brought me more guilt, self doubt, and anger.
It’s been five years, and I’m still trying to sort out those feelings. They are intwined in a complicated narrative of being told that I could be anything and also being told that I could be a mother. They are held together by growing up in the 90s and then parenting in a new era of social media and judgement. It’s a wild mix of feelings and experiences that are difficult to untangle and put into words.
But as I sit here typing these words out, I want you to know that if you resonate with me – you’re not alone in your grief and misplaced identity as a parent. And if you don’t resonate with me, your experience is still valid and worthy.
That’s the most beautiful thing that I’ve learnt in parenting: all of our experiences are valid.
What I learnt most these past five years is that my needs as a person are deserving of being met. Motherhood can feel all-consuming and when it gobbles you up, you have to learn to fight for yourself and demand that extra hour of sleep on Saturday, or that we eat McDonalds every Friday night, or any other concession that helps you breathe a little more.
If motherhood doesn’t feel like your childhood fantasy, that’s okay. It’s okay to break up with that dream and grief what isn’t. Feel those emotions and work through them. Find a friend or a therapist or a nightly journal to work through those experiences.
I wish that I could finish this story by saying it gets easier – but it doesn’t get easier. The challenges just change. I’m still working on discovering who I am and meeting my needs as a person outside motherhood.
I am so grateful for motherhood because it introduced me to my career path in communications and social media management. My children are the reason that I have the most incredible friends who fight for me and support me in my dreams. They are the reason that I am the person I am today, and I am so happy to be on this journey of personal growth with them. I love my children.
We can love our children and grieve the broken dreams we told ourselves. We can love our children and not love every part of motherhood. We can use this to fuel fire in our bellies and become the people we need to be to find happiness. It takes time and tears, but you will be okay. I know it. You are doing an amazing job.