Being a mom.

Over the last couple weeks, I've had one friend find out she's pregnant rather unexpectedly and another couple friends decide that they were going to start trying to get pregnant.

All this talk about pregnancy, has not made me want to get pregnant as it does for some people. Nope, for me it takes me back to when I first found out and the following year or so after having Zachary. Because for me, becoming a new mom was traumatic. I know you hear all the stories about how wonderful it is and how you feel connected from the moment they are born and it changes your life forever.

Part of that was true for me. I did feel that instant love the moment I held him in my arms, tears streaming down my face and Chuck standing there, tears in his eyes, telling me how very proud he was of me and how much he loved us. And it did change my life forever. But, I do not miss the wonderful part. Let me preface this by saying I was undiagnosed with PPD. But it was there, in a big way.

I hated being a mom in the beginning. Everyone would ask "oh, don't you just LOVE being a mom?" And I would smile the polite smile and nod my head and give the obligatory "It's absolutely wonderful." When inside my head I was thinking "it's horrible! I get no sleep, I don't know what the hell I'm doing, everything I do is wrong" and on and on and on. And that feeling of hating, left me hating myself and feeling guilty about not loving being a mom. But I'm here to tell you, it's not all that abnormal of a reaction. I wish I had known that.

After finding out I was pregnant with Lucas, I started looking for online mom's groups. Because I didn't have (and still don't really) have any close personal long-term friends that have kids. I ended up in a bad group, but then found 2 really wonderful groups. Groups of women who became good friends, but also let me know that I'm not alone in my thinking. There are days when it's all very overwhelming and I don't want to be a mom at that moment. There are days when no matter what I do, it's wrong. But knowing that there were other moms out there, who felt the same way, who knew what I was talking about, helped me immensely. It helped me feel normal. These women stood by me during my surprise pregnancy with Elizabeth and then provided me with a weeks worth of meals after her birth-so I didn't have to worry about what to cook.

My friend, Matt, made a comment to me a couple weeks ago that after 3 kids, I probably have a pretty good grip on being a mother. I'm here to tell you I don't. In my opinion, you never have a 100% grip on being a parent. Because it always changes. I have the baby portion down, for now, but then theres issues with Zachary and school, Lucas being a middle child and acting out. Those are things I've never dealt with before and so have no idea how to deal with them. There are times that I go to my kids and apologize to them for something that I said or did, that I feel wasn't handled properly. I do that because everyone makes mistakes and should own up to it. I make mistakes because a lot of the time, I'm learning right along with my children. They are my teachers as much as I am theirs. So, do I have a grip on everything that goes along with being a parent? Nope. But I have learned some things after having 3 kids and being a mom for almost 6 years.

*No matter what you decide to do, some one will disagree with you. Whether it's your in-laws, parents, brothers, friends, some online poster, someone will disagree with you. I've had a person go as far as tell me that I did not love my children because I was a working mom. That was early in my mom career and I was crushed. It really made me question myself as a mother and as a person. But, that brings me to my second piece of wisdom.

*You have to do what is right for YOUR family. Everyone is different. I'm part crunchy and AP and part mainstream. That isn't right for some people, but it is right for me. Sometimes that means going against the advice of your mom, or your best friend, but all families are different and only YOU can decide what is best for you.

*You need a thick skin to be a mom. Because not only are other people criticizing you (because other mothers are the WORST critics of moms, sad but true) but when your kids get to a certain age, they'll start criticizing you too. And that's okay. It's normal development. But it's hard to hear "I HATE you" coming from your 3 year old. Or to hear your 5 year old say "I wish I had different parents". And to shrug it off and say "I'm sorry you feel that way right now, I still love you lots." takes a lot of internal stamina.

*Never quit trying. Never quit learning. I think that one of the most important parts of being a parent is to not take something at face value. Re-evaluate things every once in a while. If something isn't working for you, look at it and try to figure out how to make it work. Because change is inevitable and you need to roll with it. Easier said than done though.

So, do YOU feel like you have a grip on parenthood? What's the things that you have learned over the course of being a parent?


noname said...

Oh hell no! The reason I wanted a 4th kid so badly was to have a chance to do things right. Stupid reason but it goes far to tell how much of a grip I've never felt. (if I said that right) She got here a year before we'd set the date to start trying tho, lol.

I think the biggest thing I've learned while doing the mom thing is that there is no normal outside of a textbook. And that's ok. You really do have to do what's right for you and yours.

Great post!

Charles D. Leibrand said...

Things I have learned as a parent:

Other people have ugly babies.

Boys think that pee, poop, farts and wieners are funny from about 6 months after birth.

Smiles are infectious.

A kiss has magical healing properties.

The need to potty is proportional to the distance from a toilet.

Rebellion starts at two.

Three is harder than two.

Sedition starts when the second child is two.

Keep them fed, dry and well napped and babies are easy.

There is no money back guarantee.

Whether or not a baby will stick its foot in a poopie diaper is related to the amount of poop times the distance to the butt wipes after opening said diaper

I fail about as often as I succeed.

Children are born with all the admirable qualities we look for in mankind, honesty, honor, duty and selflessness; it’s our job to keep them from loosing them.

Children learn by observing and mimicking their parents.

If your children don’t have the afore mentioned admirable qualities it’s because you and those around you don’t.

Being barfed on is not that big a deal if your child is sick.

Children are smarter then people give them credit for.

It’s better to talk to children then at children.

When your child hurts you hurt.

Maybe means yes.

No means bug me some more.
You will always be afraid.

Sometimes you have to set that fear aside and let them fail. Experience can be a better teacher than you.

You will never know when experience will be a better teacher than you until after the fact.

Some people think you suck as a parent.

Sometimes other people suck as parents.

I don’t care what other people think.

The scientific name for humans is homo sapien; the scientific name for human children is coitus interruptus.

Children are funny.

The opportunity to have sex with you wife can be expressed with the function ((1/y)*(z/n)/(x1+x2)/2. Where y is the number of children in the home with 0<=y<=12; z is the square footage of the home; n is the number people (children and adults) in the home; x is the age of the parents. This will henceforth be know as the Leibrand Formula.

Children love you with out conditions, few others will; love them back the same way.

Hannah said...

Love Chuck's reply!! ;-)

There's no way I have a handle on parenting! I agree, I don't think anyone ever does. Like you, I suffered from PPD and had those EXACT feelings and thoughts that you just penned in your post. Like the fake smile when people say how wonderful a new baby is. And how you feel like you doing everything wrong. I've been there!! Twice!! But even now that I'm well again, I would still never feel bold or arrogant enough to think that I know what I'm doing. I absolutely don't. There is always something new to throw me off course, just when I think I have my kids figured out, there's a new "issue" or milestone or developmental leap.

I agree 100% about having to do what's right for YOU. Only you know what that is, there is no "normal" to aspire to, everybody has unique children and a unique family life. If you try and follow the textbooks, you'll fail.

GREAT POST, babe!!

grandma b said...

Chuck, you are so funny! loved it!

What is it like to have 3 kids?!!!
well, Lets see; wonderful, sad, crazy, wonderful, and any other emotion there is! You think you have raised your child correctly, then you have outside forces show him/her that your parents are wrong!
I guess we did something right, our best friends are our children!
You mom's have all my respect! You have 2 jobs....I only had 1 & sometimes I didn't do the right thing all the time...even now I wonder if I had done something different, would this be different for my child?
The most important thing you can give your child is love!
Where I work, it is so sad this new generation coming up....it sure worries me! I am afraid for my grandkids! I have had a couple of long discussions w/them....it was cool last year....our son got after his son for something he did, we were camping, our grandson was sent into the trailer which I was in there making lunches.... the comment was made to me that he hated his dad.... I had quite a talk w/him & my grandson said, Grandma, when I have kids will you talk to them this way too? What a wonderfull gift he gave me! worth more that a million dollars! OH, I could take that too! :)))
Another "gift" was when a friend of my senior son said, "Dan is the luckiest kid in the world" I thought why in the world would he think that.....his comment was, "cuz you have never missed anything he was in, you were always here"! I was suprized his parents were there at his graduation! He was right...I never saw them & I knew both parents & this boy since kindergarten! Again, love! those small things!

Another "gift"; from my adult son; when he was in Middle school...this kid has this, he has that...sure it made us feel worthless...we told him at the time, sure he may have lots of "things" or they have lots of bills! He told us last year, "you know mom, I always thought ....was the luckiest kid in the world, but you know, we didn't have much, but we sure had a great family! His friend is still haunted by his "family"!
So from this ole grandma...give lots of hugs, have a close relationship w/family & love them even when they may break your heart! You think 2 is bad, just wait! the fun is just beginning! luv ya sis...chuck....& my "buds"!

Diana said...

Chucks reply is priceless!! I want to cut and paste in into my blog to share with the rest of the world!!

Thank you for sharing that. Those of us that understand what you go through appreciate the voice.

WriterMommy said...

I think that you have stated here what so many moms feel regularly. If there is one thing that makes me reach out to another, it is when she (or he) is honest and doesn't try to sugarcoat it. Good for you!!


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