Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sometimes Being a Mother Sucks

Me and little R (and a sibling?) on an off-day
Sometimes I love motherhood and I write posts like this and wonder why anyone says it's hard. Then a day like today happens and I realize yet again that being a mother is one of the hardest things that I have done, and that it's a wonder the human race continues to increase itself now that we have effective birth control (though I suppose the real answer is that it isn't).

It's really hard to explain to non-mothers (even to B) WHY it's so difficult exactly. It's mildly physically taxing (especially in the sleep deprivation department), but working in food service was harder. The hours are (really) long: at least 12 hours daily (plus overtime at night), but lots of jobs are like that (B's job, for instance). The social status, pay, and positive feedback all are terrible, but again that's true for many jobs.

One hard part is the constant neediness. I know I just wrote about how little R is so much more independent, which is true; but let's get real: she still can't dress, feed, or clean herself, and can't even get out of bed in the morning without my help. Sometimes when talking with B I call her my little lamprey, because I must haul her everywhere as she sucks away my time, energy and patience. 

The other issue is the mind-numbing tedium of the tasks required in motherhood. Rain or shine, holiday or work day, little R is going to need to be fed, diapered and comforted multiple times during the day. Sometimes I feel like Charlie Chaplin on the assembly line: if I temporarily slack off (like don't respond to her well for a little while, or don't feed her on time), everything goes to hell in a handbasket and it can take hours to get it all back on a smooth footing. Little R's "easiness" is largely a product of a carefully planned, meticulously plotted, all-encompassing strategy. She's almost always in a good mood, sure, but that's because I anticipated everything she wanted and gave it to her before she had a chance to get upset about its absence. 

This constant anticipation of another person's needs is totally exhausting. To do it successfully requires a lot of planning, to coordinate nap schedules, make sure the proper sort of food is available at the right time, activities are provided at the right moment, etc. It's also something I can never pass off onto B (unlike, say, changing diapers). To continue the factory analogy, I am also responsible for RUNNING all operations (ordering supplies, hiring workers, training new hires, anticipating market changes, marketing, production, etc). 

Usually I am pretty positive and happy, because these bad aspects are outweighed by my love for little R, her cuteness, the interest in seeing her grow and develop, and so on. Today, though, I was just sick of it all: her demands, her fussing, the mess she makes of everything. So at 5:30 I appeared in B's study where he was relaxing, told him he needed to watch little R, and then when he demurred, yelled at him for 15 minutes for being "useless" and a "bad husband and father" (while little R was there, looking worried: really I wanted to yell at her, but since B's tougher he got it instead). Then I cried and went to bed for an hour while B took little R out to pick up dinner. Ugh. 

I apologized, we talked about it, and everyone made up. But I feel sort of hung over now, from the emotional  drama of it all. 


  1. I know exactly what you mean by feeling hungover from the emotional drama. That's an awful feeling, I think worse than a true hangover!

    I don't relish in other's bad days, but it makes me feel better to relate to other people's bad days when they write about them like you did here. So thanks for sharing, even though it was a shitty day.


    1. I totally feel the same way! Reading about other people's bad days is awesome: it really makes you feel less alone.

  2. I feel ya. Every night as soon as his dad comes home, T turns into a nightmare. He whines, demands to be held as I am trying to get dinner on the table, clean up, and keep him safe. If I don't pick him up, he throws a full on fit. I get it - he wants to see what I'm doing - but it just sucks.

    Then I complain that I'm the only one who does anything which makes T even more anxious.

    1. Little R has some kind of sixth sense, that whenever I am especially distracted/stressed, is the time she decides she needs reassurance. I suppose it's just that she is really good at picking up on my moods, and me being stressed stresses her out. Of course at these moments her father is never the one she wants (unless he's the busy one).

      Poor T. It's hard being a toddler.

  3. We all have these days. I remember when S was working for Company X and he would literally be on call 24-7, at the mercy of his manager. This was miserable for him... and it's exactly what motherhood is like sometimes. We all need breaks.

    1. You know the worst thing? The sitter came on Wednesday so I spent four hours out of the house without little R, purely amusing myself. Breaks just don't seem to help me that much, maybe because then it reminds me what freedom is actually like. Or maybe I need a longer one?