Being a Mom is really, really hard

This past week, I met with a mom who was desperate for two things in particular: caffeine and hope.

Having recently had twins, and with another small toddler in tow, she’s a woman on the proverbial brink – fragile, disheveled, and so, so tired.

Of course, she loves her kids, and she’s well aware she’s meant to cherish this time – but right now, as she sits across the table with a watery smile and milk stains on her shirt, none of that has helped to make this season feel sweet, or even just bearable.

On the other side of the table, I sit. Feeling a different kind of burden… a strange pressure to ease her pressure.

She’s sought me out because I’m a mom too (twins included), and from her perspective, I seem to have not just survived but somehow thrived.

While she doesn’t say it so directly – she wants to know how I did it, what’s my secret? What’s the magic silver bullet she’s been missing?

For a brief moment, I consider telling her all the well-worn, handed-down advice I was given. But then I remember how none of it actually helped – despite how well-intentioned it might have been. So instead, I take a deep breath and tell her this:

If it feels really hard, you’re right. Mothering is magnificent, meaningful, and so, so hard. So much harder than we tend to anticipate it will be! That’s what really breaks us… the expectation that it should be easier than it really is.

Here’s some worthwhile wisdom from the book, The Road Less Travelled:

“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult, once we truly understand and accept it, then life is no longer so difficult.”

It will stay really hard, for a really long time.

I used to peg my hopes on milestones… when my babies turn 1, life will get easier… when they finish teething… finally wean… eventually sleep through… know how to swim… go to pre-school… help more around the house… start high school… THEN, life will get easier.

But friend, hope deferred makes the heart sick. Aren’t you sick of waiting for life to get easier? Instead, just embrace the messy middle.

There is still so much joy to be found here – in the chaotic construction zone of life – long before we’ve reached all the milestones, ticked off all the to-do’s, and finally arrived at that mythical soft life!

There are no golden children.

When I was a younger mom, I assumed that my kids would be like the ones in the textbooks. At least just one of them! Instead, each has delighted and disappointed me in innumerable ways.

Of course, I think my kids are the greatest kids that ever kidded, but they have also shocked, exasperated, outraged, and crushed me at times.

What did I really expect though? They’re people, and just like all people – they have strengths and weaknesses, they can have bad hair days, get grumpy, be selfish, push the boundaries, and lash out at times.

They are their own people too – not reflections of me or my good (or bad) parenting.

So when they get it wrong, as we all do, I’m learning that they need grace and space – not misdirected shame and rage from a parent who can’t see where they begin and their child ends. Which brings me to the next point…

There are no golden parents.

If you’re an A-type person, this is going to hurt the most. But it’s true for you too. None of us are getting out of this parenting gig with a 100% report card.

We will all have bad days and make parenting choices that we question later on.

We’re just as human as our kids, and ironically, having kids often brings out our childhood wounds and unresolved issues. You’re not the first mom to lie awake at night wracked with regret – and certainly won’t be the last.

So ditch the mom guilt – it’s a useless emotion. Rather – when you know better, do better.

Forgive yourself and your kids for being human, and hold onto the really good news below (finally)!

There is gold in the gaps…

While I no longer believe in fairy tales or textbook babies, I still believe in grace. In fact, I think it’s the most powerful thing we have access to. It can take our worst moments and deepest regrets and transform them into wondrous things.

It can take all the places we feel we lack as parents, all the gaps in our lives and kids’ lives – and fill them up with gold. How so? By showing both them and us that in the end, it’s really not about us.

While others will disappoint us (and we will disappoint them), we gain something from these gaps – even if it’s just an appreciation of each other’s humanness, that nobody is perfect.

So while all of us will make mistakes, grow weary, and lose hope at times – grace is there (always there) to guide us home, kiss us gently on the forehead, tuck us into a soft bed of sweet surrender, and assure us that we can start again tomorrow.

Share this with a friend who also needs this reminder.

Because on our own, we can get by, but together we’re unstoppable.

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105 thoughts on “Being a Mom is really, really hard

  1. Karen F. says:

    This article is absolutely true i have been so hard on myself trying to raise 3 kids on my own but i have decided to take each day as it comes and making the best out of a bad situation and so far im doing a great job there were very bad times but we made it work and still doing so we’ve got this mommas

  2. Chantel H. says:

    I’m crying as im reading this, Mind boggled with how you kew i needed this. I became a mom of 4, 4 months ago and kids in different age groups and different needs have me wanting to walk away and give up because im just not doing a good job as a mom. Literally questioning God why would He allow me to go through 6 pregnancies and have 4 kids, like im unqualified. I have an 18year old, a 9 year old, a 3 year old and a 4 month old and its alot. I dont have a village its just myself and my husband. We dont have the luxury of dropping kids at the grandparents or aunties, dont even have a community for play dates, its just hard. I remind myself of so many things to be grateful for but the negative in my mind out weighs the positive. But in this moment I feel normal instead of crazy and almost wanting to lose my mind because I’m just a horrible mom. Every part of this article is touching me, I am definitely copying and pasting this and saving it to read as often as I need to. THANK YOU FOR THIS, I APPRECIATE YOU MAKING ME FEEL AND ASSURING ME THAT I AM NORMAL, I AM NOT ALONE. #EVERBECOMINGMOM #MOMMINGISHARD #MOMLIFE

  3. Nompumelelo N. says:

    Oh my I relate so much to this article. It came at the right time. I’m currently juggling between parenting a toddler and writing my thesis which is due this month. I am going to print this out and paste it on my wall as a way to remind myself that sometimes it’s normal to feel regret and I’m not alone. Thank you for this.

  4. Dimpho S. says:

    Having being a single mum to my two boys since ever… initially it looked like I was going to get through well eventhough I was faced with so many challenges being self-employed.

    However, moving to a new place and downgrading after loosing my business was the beginning of tough times. When I was thinking the worse was behind me, then my 18 month old first born son by then had epilepsy episode. I will never forget how I prayed non-stop feeling hopeless. And for 5 years my son had over 20 absent seizures a day. And later he was diagnosed with ADHD. I did not enroll him to kindergarten in fear of him perhaps getting unjuries and being afraid that he might not get enough care. In the mist of life challenges of raising 2 boys on my own I did create the opportunity to have the best memories with my boys and forgot about any other challenges we had.

    The best thing about raising toddlers is that, they just want to enjoy and play irrespective of health issues. I was the only one in a “panic mode” and had to make sure I gave my children the best I could with the little I had.
    Now, they’ve grown up 13 and 14 years. The younger one is going through a stage and testing me to the core. His is also trying to find himself living without a father figure. But his older brother hasn’t bothered me about their father yet, thank God. I don’t know how to explain that he had never wanted to be apart of their lives. I do not want to hurt their feelings. I sometimes feel like giving up. I cry to myself to stay sane. It is not easy.

    Also, I don’t feel appreciated by my children for all the efforts and the love I give them. With the sacrifices I make and not socialing and not dating, so, that I can hussle more and provide the best education and support… However, as tough and hard as it is… my children are my best motivation to continue doing great. My 14 years old is in grade 8 and he is one of the best student and every teacher is proud of his dediction and working hard. These kind of performance just makes me a happy and proud parent. I’m hoping that my younger son can overcome his struggles to cope with teenage crisis and focus in doing his best because he used to be an A student. Then I will get to sleep in peace without panicking. Being a parent is really, really, really hard!!!

  5. Mimie G. says:

    I recently tried to give a side hustle a chance to supplement my income with two teenagers doing early years in high school, one needs extra support especially since my husband’s passing took away 15% of our monthly income.

    Gave it a try for one day, the next I asked my youngest how does he feel? His response was “yoh mom, it’s hectic, whilst you are busy we can’t talk to you, when we try, you answer one word, followed by I need to focus, please do not disturb” I guess you can’t make money and be present for your kids at the same. This got me thinking.🤔

    • Angel M. says:

      What a heartfelt article full of honest truth. Indeed being a mother is the toughest duty but we need to always be strong and lead by examples to our kids, they depend on us.