Does Motherhood Suck? Depends!

26 Apr

When I had younger kids, I read a lot of parenting books. I stopped reading them when I realized the only helpful advice I’d gleaned was that children meltdown when they are with you because they feel safe. Knowing my excellent parenting skills led to behavior my kids wouldn’t inflict on strangers was cold comfort. So I started reading vampire books. Somehow, it just felt right to read about being literally sucked dry at a time when my children were figuratively sucking me dry.

It wasn’t until recently that I started reading parenting books again. Ok, it was yesterday. I’ve been noodling with the idea of writing a parenting book so decided to check out the competition. I wasn’t able to check out all of the most recent tomes; I had to put Bringing Up Bébé on hold. But I grabbed I Was A Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids and Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

I thought I’d start with I Was A Really Good Mom. Brief synopsis: Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile, two new moms, discovered that mothering is really hard. They decided that no one was talking about how hard mothering is so they took it upon themselves to “talk to more than 100 mothers” about how hard mothering is.

And what did those moms say? That they were shocked to learn how hard mothering is. One said, “I thought having a baby would be like having a pet—oh, this will be cute. We’ll be this happy little family.” I’ll wait while you say, “Oh, my god! You’re freaking kidding me.”

Done? Ok, now it’s pretty obvious to me that that mom never had a pet because anyone who has ever had a pet knows they can be as challenging as children. Of course, you don’t have to send your dog to college, but your child will eventually learn to stop peeing in the wrong places.

“Babies are just human pets” was not the most unbelievable thing I read in I Was A Really Good Mom. The most unbelievable thing I read was the mom who allowed herself to be quoted saying, “…there are some days I don’t even have time to pee . . .so I wear Depends.” The woman wears Depends so she doesn’t have to stop running around like a maniac. Now, I don’t know about you, but the minute I started thinking that Depends would make my life easier, my ass would be in therapy not a diaper.

As astoundingly unbelievable as Depends Mom is, is the fact that Trisha and Amy thought no one was talking about how hard mothering is. Really? Not one person saw their pregnant bodies and said, “Just wait ‘til that little one pops out!” No one rubbed Amy’s tummy uninvited and said “Well, little mommy, life’s about to change for you!” I’m betting Trisha and Amy were so surprised that motherhood is hard not because no one talks about it, but because they weren’t listening.

Motherhood is freaking hard. Sometimes it’s grindingly boring, sometimes it’s physically grueling, sometimes it’s emotionally draining. Any one with half an ounce of hubris would look at the mothers around them and conclude motherhood is not for the faint. But somehow, Amy and Trish and their interviewees came to the conclusion that their MBAs, former executive positions and generally take-charge personalities would make mincemeat of an undertaking that has laid low many a woman before them.

I think Amy and Trisha should re-title their book I Was A Really Good Mom When I Was Childless And Self-Absorbed. Then the utter amazement with which they discuss the challenges of modern motherhood—should I hire a soccer tutor? Should we potty-train at two or three—might make sense. And while I agree wholeheartedly with their prescription for a more manageable motherhood, I don’t for a minute believe that someone who wears Depends so she can get more done in a day is really going to chill out and lower her expectations.

Maybe I’m forgetting my own anxieties over motherhood, but I don’t really think so. Sure, I feel like a failure a lot of the time. My son gets hugely horrible grades in subjects he doesn’t like. My daughter, who weighs 53 pounds at age nine, thinks her legs are fat. My house looks like the Blue Angels did a low fly-by through the living room. My yard has more weeds than, well, than any other lawn on the block. I got involved in the PTA and I’d rather swallow Drano than do it again.

Just as the times I kick myself are many, the times I pat myself on the back are too few. I’m working, writing, helping take care of my dying father and still managing to keep my children safe and healthy and my husband (mostly) happy. Despite all that, I calmly and successfully handled a teen crisis. I even get out to run at least twice a week.

Yes, mothering is a fabulous experience and nothing compares to holding a warm, sleepy child in your arms. But a lot of mothering just plain sucks and when it does, a wise mother just sucks it up.


18 Responses to “Does Motherhood Suck? Depends!”

  1. fooddrinkandbooks April 26, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    I was a nanny, at age 19, to four kids aged 2, 5, 7 and 8. Their (single) mother was so stressed she would disappear all day, 6 days a week, from 8a.m to 7p.m. That was when I decided I was not cut out for motherhood. I am now 46 and still haven’t changed my mind.

    • jmlindy422 April 26, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

      It is a wise woman who knows her limits. I think I would have foregone children if I’d been a 19 year-old nanny. Thanks for dropping by.

  2. The Waiting April 26, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    Having just entered the world of parenting and therefore parenting books, I tend to agree with you on the no-brainer concept that this is hard. I would completely read your book! Cos, y’know, you’re sane and all 🙂

    • jmlindy422 April 26, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

      I see my medication is working if you think I am sane. I’ll let my psychiatrist know he’s doing his job! Seriously, thanks. Hope all’s well with your bebe. Are you planning to read “Bringing up Bebe?” ‘Cause I’m totally jazzed to see what the French, who let their children drink wine from an early age, have to say about parenting. I think I’d have some pretty chill kids if I fed them brie and Burgundy every day.

      • The Waiting April 26, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

        I am planning on reading it as soon as my library gets a copy. That may take awhile, tho.

        BTW my take on sanity is pretty relative, but by my standards you’re doing alright 😉

  3. mysending April 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    People clearly would rather buy a book that promises them the moon, rather than the truth. Or else they live in Deludedland.

    • jmlindy422 April 26, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

      Deludedland, babe. That’s where they are!

  4. averagechildhood April 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

    On child number three, I only recently realized that a lot of parenting magazine advice doesn’t pass my “common sense” test. I used to think I must just be wrong, but then I realized some of those people don’t even have children. And at any rate, not as many children as my mom and mother in law – so I think I’ll stick to the old fashioned sources of advice!

    • jmlindy422 April 26, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

      It’s a cliche, but I didn’t appreciate what my mom did until I had kids of my own. Thanks for reading.

  5. philosophermouseofthehedge April 27, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    You last sentence says it all. Why do people think “Wow, now I have a kid, I’m suddenly stupid and need people who don’t have kids tell me what to do?” Common sense is alway good. “A post everyone needs to read” award.

    • jmlindy422 April 27, 2012 at 10:12 am #

      Well, thank you! I’m always struck by the idea that if one has an MBA, then parenting should be a piece of cake, as if children were a business.

  6. sweetmother April 28, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    ok, this was so good and so well written, i just hit the follow button. seriously. i mean the depends moms!!!! that just can’t be real. honestly, the world needs MORE moms like you. much love, sm

    • jmlindy422 April 28, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

      Well, that’s high praise from you! Thanks. Yeah, I couldn’t believe the Depends mom either. And worse….she admitted it!! Nay, she volunteered it!

  7. scribblechic April 30, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

    I am still alternately laughing and shaking my head over the use of Depends.

  8. Mad Queen Linda May 3, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Well said. I’ve never understood why women don’t seem to see the amount of work, selflessness, and sacrifice involved before having children. I’m not a mother and never wanted to be. As for the authors, they probably talked to 100 friends and friends of friends and cranked out a book with a catchy title to make a few bucks.

    • jmlindy422 May 3, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

      Why, yes, Queen Linda, I believe you’ve nailed the parenting book on it’s mercenary little head. Thanks for dropping by!

  9. Jim Parks August 16, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

    I love the irony in a mom who would be wearing Depends while toilet training a toddler. Not to take a single thing away from your terrific column, Janice, but, even though it addresses how hard mothering is, there ARE very involved dads who know the difficulty of parenting. I am very close to one.

    • jmlindy422 August 16, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

      I didn’t catch that irony, so thanks for pointing that out! I know there are involved dads–like you–but this was written to address the crap that is was being dished out specifically targeting women. I saw it as a sinister plot to divide women over issues that should unite us. Maybe I’ll write more about dads soon.

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