Can you? When faced with the question to describe motherhood, I freeze. How can one put this into the right words? Are there any words that do it justice? I find myself staring into blank baby shower cards, wanting to prepare the expecting mother for what’s to come. There is no easy answer. Words like surreal, bittersweet, crazy, stressful, adventurous, and fulfilling come to mind. But do they paint the full picture?
While I can’t commit to picking one or a handful of words, I can tell you this:
Motherhood is a source of crippling anxiety, constant stress, and never-ending doubt. We enter motherhood with ideas, expectations, and plans. We quickly learn almost everything we planned falls apart, unraveling in front of our very eyes. Empty promises and false hope set us up for a disappointment that can nearly shatter us. As we look to other’s experiences and use them to guide us, we are bound to question our worth. Guilt, pressure, comparison, and a sense of failure are consuming. Motherhood is the most challenging journey we face.
Motherhood is feeling stuck in time. There is no end to these early years. At the same time, you want to cherish every second. You know the day will come that you miss these days when you look at new moms and think to yourself how your children used to be this little. You cling to every precious second wanting to pause time. Time is cruel.
Motherhood is missing your life before children when you are knee-deep in the trenches. You long for independence and nights out with friends. What it was like when nobody relied on you. At the same time, you can’t imagine life without your children. It feels impossible to imagine a time when they never existed. How did you live without them?
Motherhood is feeling touched out, so touched out. Your skin crawls at little hands, grabbing your leg. Your personal space no longer exists. At the same time, you crave hugs and kisses. There is nothing in the world like snuggling your child. You find yourself lying in bed with them, not wanting to let go after spending your day begging to go to the bathroom alone.
Motherhood is wanting a break from it all. You count days and hours until you get a break. At the same time, you miss your children the second you leave. How you miss them when you are away, even if it’s just an hour.
Motherhood is feeling clueless and wondering what the heck you are doing. You question if you made the right decision. It seems to come naturally to other moms. At the same time, you know your children best. There’s this mother’s intuition that eats at you. How incredible it is that you “just know.”
Motherhood is lonely and isolating. We sometimes feel cut off from the rest of the world. Even in the presence of others, we feel deeply separated. At the same time, our children give us all the love and acceptance we need. We thrive in their presence and company.
Motherhood is comparing and measuring your worth to other moms. They are talented craft makers, bakers, decorators, party throwers, and gift-givers. You sometimes envy their talents. At the same time, you have unique skills that make you shine. They may not be visible to the world, but it’s what your children value about you, and that’s all that matters.
Motherhood is thankless. We feel underappreciated and overlooked. At the same time, our children are the first to forgive us. They love us unconditionally on our worst days.
Motherhood is, by far, the greatest — all the challenges we face pale in comparison to our hardships. No, nothing can prepare us. Nothing can prepare us for unconditional love, bonds, pride, joy, fulfillment, and adventures. We are overwhelmingly consumed by these feelings. Motherhood is the most beautiful journey.