Saturday, January 2, 2016

Feeling Entitled to a Perfect Motherhood

I sat in traffic on the way home from Christmas shopping the other day, and listened to a podcast. The hosts of the segment discussed the book "Disrupt Yourself" by Whitney Johnson and eventually they came to discuss a chapter from the book about entitlement. The host, Saren, related the entitlement chapter to herself in her role as mother. She mentioned how she often finds herself entitled to her picture perfect version of motherhood, rather than accepting the good, the bad, and the ugly as she should, knowing that that's what she was signing up for when she became a mother.

This idea really got me thinking. Do I feel entitled to a perfect motherhood? Yes! I think in a lot of ways I do! This is actually a subject that I just opened up and cried about to a friend. I told her, "I just wish there wasn't opposition in motherhood. I know that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, so why do I have to feel these feelings of anger, frustration, disappointment, resentment and bitterness?" Why can't it all feel right and good all the time?

(I remember taking this cute, happy looking picture on a day that I did not feel happy. Ellie was in the middle of her terrible twos and her period of throwing crazy tantrums every night at bedtime. One of those times I was definitely having to dig deep to know there is great joy in motherhood, even when it doesn't feel like it.)

I was so perfectly naïve when I began my journey into motherhood. I saw everything with rose colored glasses. I had always wanted to be a mother, and now I was. I thought that life was going to be a dream from there on out. It's foolish, and naïve, but it's true. I was perfectly optimistic. I'd hear mothers laugh and joke and complain about the (sometimes harsh) reality of motherhood and I would think, "That's not going to be me. They just don't know what they're doing". Ha!!! The ridiculous naiveity and arrogance!

  I mentioned in a previous post that when Ellie was two and Lorenzo came along, I felt let down by motherhood. This job was so hard, and it seemed like the mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion was trying hard to outweigh the fulfilling, rewarding moments. I wanted my picture perfect version of motherhood. I wanted my children to adore each other like I saw other young moms posting about on Instagram. My kids were barely tolerating each other- and only because there was no other option!

Life is a grind. From what I know, life is supposed to be a grind. Life is supposed to metaphorically chew us up and spit us out, because that's how we as stubborn, fickle human beings learn and grow. When I feel entitled to my perfect version of motherhood I think back to the days I was dancing. I loved to dance, and for years dance was "my life". There were definitely days then that I had to dig deep and remind myself why I loved it. Days when I swore that if i had to stand at the barre and tendu from fifth position again I might lose my mind. Those experiences geared me up for the days that getting down on my hands and knees to wipe up the spills from the highchair, from dinner, from art projects, etc. would be the norm. Days as mom are monotonous, and sometimes very isolating. The silver lining is that we all feel it. No one's, no one's motherhood days are free from the monotony and struggle.

This globally connected world in this millennial generation can make us feel that having fun all the time should be the norm. People's lives look exotic and fancy and impressive on the social media channels we're checking all day, and that gets discouraging. Last Easter was disastrous for our family with lost Easter basket goodies, a lost Lorenzo, Jovi throwing up the chocolate she had eaten all over my new West Elm curtains, and short tempers (on my end). I scrolled through Instagram that evening looking at everyone's beautiful, smiling families and read caption after caption about what a perfect Easter it had been. I wanted that perfect Easter! We all want that perfect Easter!  But it's interesting to challenge yourself, and check if we are feeling entitled to everything going our way as moms.

(This picture is so beautiful, taken on the day of my brother in law's wedding. I remember when I saw this picture for the first time I felt like a fraud. I was struggling a lot in my relationship with Ellie and the guilt I felt for not adoring her every second was eating me alive. My relationship with her felt strained instead of easy and I know I cried at least a couple times to BJ that I just wanted to feel the way I felt when Ellie was a baby when that unconditional love comes so naturally and easy. These photos still make my stomach squirm a little because those feelings were raw at the time.)

It's hard when you're the mom and you work yourself tired planning and executing holidays and regular days to try to please and accommodate everyone in your family. The planning is hard enough, but when the day is here and the very things you have been working on start falling apart before your eyes, things can get depressing fast. I think that maybe the thing that helps me the most is to think about the people I know, or the people in the past that I know that have gone through really hard things. Like the mom of Ellie's friend from preschool that's currently fighting against brain cancer that said, "Well, if it wasn't this, it would just be something else"! She said that in all seriousness, you guys! Can that be a mantra we all say to ourselves when our crap, or our family's crap hits the fan? "If it wasn't this, it would just be something else"! Ha! That sounds so cynical and pessimistic, but it's also hilarious in its way! Isn't that the truth?

Crap happens. All day. Every day! I've said it so many times, "Motherhood (insert: LIFE) is a rollercoaster"! There are so many ups and downs and unexpected twists and turns. I love riding high across a park or zoo on the sky tram, but even those have to come down at some point! It's just impossible for life to be happy and smooth all the time.

My point in all of this is to say that checking in with yourself to see if you feel entitled to a perfect (fill in the blank) can be a helpful practice. Just realizing that the expectations we have sometimes are unattainable can be a nice place to start building your new, more realistic/grounded expectations from. Maybe I'm the only one that finds wisdom in smashing down my expectations, but I've always been a dreamer. I love to daydream and envision the perfect version of my day to day life from the everyday to the special occasion. Including the pauses and errors and harsh reality has been a healthy thing for me to do. Try it, and see if it works for you. I'd love to know your thoughts about if you've ever felt entitled to a perfect (blank). Like the wise words my four year old told me last August, "Mom, you knew having kids was going to be hard work, so you're just going to have to get used to it". Haha! Thanks Ellie!


  1. Haha! That last line from Ellie has me (re) laughing out loud! Can't say enough how happy I am you are writing again! I love you!