What exactly is the motherhood disclaimer?
Well, we all spend an awful lot of time with moms, reading about moms, watching moms on TV and you know, actually being moms. How often do you hear, or find yourself saying, statements along the lines of….
“I’m so exhausted and I just wish I could get even 10 seconds in my day to pee by myself, but I love my kids and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
“I really love my job, but OF COURSE my family comes first.”
“There are days being at home drives me crazy, but being there to raise my kids is the reward.”
“It can be stressful, but I have the best life and the best kids.”
On the surface, these statements sound pretty routine and harmless and in fact kind of sweet. But maybe we need to look a little deeper and ask why the qualifiers to the primary statements are almost ALWAYS present. Why are we unable to voice dissatisfaction about motherhood or express contentment with parts of lives not directly tied to our kids, without providing disclaimers?
In today’s world, when you are a mom, your whole world is swallowed up by that role and you’re supposed to be happy and grateful about it – ALL. THE. TIME.
As a result, fear and guilt run rampant in the hearts and minds of most mothers leaving them in a constant state of defense. We feel like if we decide to establish an identity besides “mom” and have a job, go out on date night, or even just take a few hours away for a yoga class, we must defend against the perception that we are somehow less than completely devoted and adoring mothers.
There is also the ever present fear, fed by today’s media, that seeking such outside interests and personal space makes us targets for the cruelty of fate, which might snap our children away from us for not savoring every moment of playing Candy Land for the 30th time in an hour.
We can see over and over in our minds the lead story for the nightly news with the anchor retelling our tragic tale where we became one of those horrific statistics, being reduced to nothing but “I shouldn’t have left my child last night with the sitter, I should have taken him to the park when asked, I wish I hadn’t yelled at her for whining all day long.”
When we are inundated with the persistent notion that being our own person somehow correlates with being ungrateful for our children, then we’re forced into a lose/lose situation of giving up our own lives, or living them in ways that require endless justification.
If we’ve had a tough day, we shouldn’t have to follow that with some type of superstitiously driven “but my angelic children are worth the pounding headache.
“For those dealing with “spirited” children or children who sometimes face daunting challenges, why do we minimize the toll it takes on us by saying “but, I wouldn’t change a thing.”? I think in many instances, if given the chance, we MIGHT change a few things. Does that mean we don’t love our kids or that we want to erase their very existence? That’s ridiculous and of course not.
Sure, there are some questionable parents in our world, but most likely, if you’re uttering any of the qualifiers mentioned here today, you’re not one of them. The fact that you feel the need to use the motherhood disclaimer shows how much you care and how deeply committed you are to your children.
Few of us would ever question another parents love for their child simply because he or she told us, “Wow, today Billy has been a real piece of work and I’m so fed up I might sell him to the circus.” We don’t need such statements followed with “but don’t get me wrong, I love him dearly.” OF COURSE YOU DO!!!!
There can be bad days, weeks and even whole years in the parenting process and we should be able to say so freely. This isn’t to suggest that we all become a bunch of whiny, complainers unloading on anyone who will listen the woes of stinky diapers and not enough “me” time. Just that we tune down the Pollyanna a notch and stop being afraid to share the not so shining moments of parenthood without feeling like somehow we’ve fallen short.
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