New Moms
New Moms

Sometimes Motherhood Just Plain Sucks

| by Suzanne Venker
Some time ago when I was shopping alone at Target on a weekday morning – an altogether pleasant experience now that my children are in school – I witnessed a mother struggling to appease the unreasonable demands of her toddler. I tried hard to focus on my shopping and ignore the incessant whining and crying that came from the next aisle, but it was impossible. At that moment I felt a visceral connection to this mother I didn’t know.

It wasn't long ago that I was her: a mom with a baby and toddler in tow, trying desperately to focus on whatever it was I came to Target for. I wanted so much to walk around the corner and say to this woman, "I know exactly how you're feeling. Is there anything I can do?" Instead, I said nothing. I simply wheeled my cart in the other direction and went about my business, wondering the entire time whether that mom eventually bribed her child into silence or just picked her up and left.

It was this experience that led me to write my second book. There's a secret among mothers -- among all parents, really, that no one wants to admit: the early years of motherhood can just plain suck. Raising children this age -- particularly full-time -- is exhausting work, and the choice to do so makes one’s life significantly harder. While the physical demands have become easier over the decades – since women now have a vast array of technology and convenience foods to help ease their burden – the emotional demands have not.

Progress or no progress, the sacrifices involved in early motherhood are unavoidable. There is no escaping the reality of what it feels like to have an appendage attached to you 24/7, or what excessive whining and discipline problems will do to an otherwise happy marriage. This experience is particularly difficult for a generation that has been raised to eschew sacrifice. Moreover, today’s mothers are raising their children in a vacuum – away from their families and in neighborhoods that have become increasingly desolate – which make them feel isolated and alone.

The freedom to admit motherhood is hard -- and that No, you're not always delighted to spend your days with small chidren – is incredibly liberating. It does no one any good to smile all the time and pretend motherhood is pure delight; every parent knows this isn't true. So if you have babies and young children at home, the next time someone asks you how you are, try telling them the truth for a change – no matter how unpalatable it may be. It really can set you free! (Admit it: Don't you feel better just reading this?)

For more from Suzanne Venker, click here.


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