“Tell us your impressions about motherhood,” the cheerful instructor asked the group of new moms sitting cross-legged on the floor with newborns in our laps. A newbie to this mommy-and-me infant class, I greeted the discussion time each week with equal parts eagerness and apprehension. I desperately wanted to get to know these other moms, to connect with them, to make a friend. But, really, they scared me half to death with their angelic babies, their new mom glows, and their judging eyes.
Slowly each mom began sharing their thoughts about motherhood with the group. One mom gazed at her baby with twinkly eyes and said she felt overwhelmed with love. Another mom gushed about how in love she was with her beautiful baby girl. And another said that she was amazed that her heart had the capacity to feel such (surprise!) love. From the sounds of it, I was shocked that these moms were able to tear themselves away from gazing lovingly at their beautiful little bundles of love in order to get themselves to this class.
Then it was my turn. With sweaty palms, a fluttering heart, and a wavering voice, I said, “It is all just so much more than I ever expected.” To which I received a symphony of deafening silence and blank stares.
Maybe they saw the half-crazed look in my eye, sensed the signs of post-partum depression, and were afraid that they might catch it, like a cold or the stomach flu. Or maybe they really had no idea what I meant.
But that was the only way I could think of to describe motherhood: more. More painful, more exhausting, more expensive. More vulnerable, but more protective. More fearful, but more purposeful. More isolating, but more unifying. More challenging, but more fulfilling. And, yes, there was more love too.
I’ve always lived on the edges of the emotional spectrum. A highly sensitive child, I had difficulty separating another person’s pain from my own. I wear my heart on my sleeve and often wish that my paper-thin skin were thicker and coarser because then things would be less charged, less affecting, less intense.
But why in the world would I want less when there can be so much more?
Because with more of this comes more of that. Providing for a family is more expensive and work is more stressful, but the pride that comes from doing those things is also more satisfying. Friendships are more difficult to maintain, but they are also more meaningful. The world seems more dangerous, but it is also more amazing. People are more complex, but they are also more resilient. Marriage is more work, but it is also more rewarding. Parenting is, well, more everything.
Eventually I dropped out of that infant class after I met a group of friends – real friends – who were more fun than any pretentious class could be. Those other moms could keep their sugar-coated, gushy, twinkly-eyed love.
I want more.
Linking up with the bloggers who write and writers who blog at Yeah Write for its birthday celebration. Check out the other writers on the grid, then come back on Thursday to vote for your favorites.
Parenthood (and marriage for that matter) are so much more EVERYTHING than you ever realize! The “real” friends I made when my children were small, the ones good ones that I still have, are the ones who kept it real and our common ground was sharing the good, bad and ugly about our shared experiences in life. Loved the honesty.
Doesn’t it seem like the stuff that really matters is always so much MORE than we expected in every possible way?
I HATED the baby years. HATED them. ANd there was no one I could tell. I could only weep alone in my car. Until — one day — I looked over at another car, and I saw another woman weeping. Can you even imagine it? We looked up at each other and saw each other. I slid into her car and we tled for hours. About how lonely we felt, how overwhelmed. How bored. How under-prepared we were for our suckiness. And we are best friends to this day — 14 years later. Can you imagine it? Glad you have found the friends that you needed. I’m here from Yeah Write.
What an amazing story! Thanks for sharing that.
I’m so glad you found a much better group of moms to hang out with. Nothing is perfect and glorious, and you have to be able to recognize the bad in order to appreciate the good. Plus, yeah, the people in the infant class sound totally pretentious. 🙂
yeah, that class sucked. Although I was so desperate at the time for any kind of personal interaction that I let some of it slide.
I feel you. I too am super-sensitive, and seem to absorb others’ pain into my existence. The “more” of motherhood both terrifies and tantalizes me…we’ll see how it goes. Someday.
Yeah, it’s hard to manage the emotional spectrum sometimes.
Loved this! It’s so true. Plus, even though I am not on the “edges of the emotional spectrum,” the moms that pretend it’s all perfect don’t jive with me. Glad you found your tribe.
I applaud you for wanting more and being able to articulate your true feelings, something those other moms don’t seem to know how to do. Get busy living or get busy dying, right?!?!
yes, you are so right!
That group sounds horrible. The worst part is that is such a great opportunity to be honest, share advice and get support. Despite the response you received, I admire the fact that you were honest about how you were feeling.
Thanks. I’m glad I was honest too. Though at the time I just thought that something was wrong with me.
This post is AWESOME. I wish I had it when I joined a group of moms and wanted to die b/c they were happy and I was so damn tired I wanted to scream my head off. You should submit this to Huff Post b/c it’s goods. Every new mom should see it.
Thanks, Christie! I think I’ll do that.
The infant years were tough! Those women were lying when they spoke! Great post.
I was completely overwhelmed by my first. It was the dead of winter, and I was so isolated. I couldn’t believe they booted us out of the hospital so unprepared!
No kidding, right? I think they should let us back into the hospital after a couple weeks.
Well said! I too had a hard time connecting with those who only saw the love and snuggles of being a new mommy. Was I the only one who also saw the struggle to redefine myself, and the feelings of inadequecy, and the exhaustion and the feelings of resentment that took me by surprise when my husband got to have a lunch meeting or listen to whatever he wanted on the radio? Truth is, i wasn’t the only one. But I sure as heck was one of the few honestly talking about it. And little by little I found others who would be MORE honest as well. MORE authentic. MORE real. And our friendships and my experience as a mom became MORE normal for me. And that is the best kind of MORE out there.
Thank you for this beautiful piece!
Thank YOU for your thoughtful comment!
More more more!! 🙂
I’m so glad that you looked for your “more.” This is a really beautiful and important post.
Loved this post! I remember those same feelings and struggles, and the loneliness and frustration of everyone else making it look so easy. I’m so happy you found a group of friends who were just the more that you needed.
It’s amazing how so many people try to put on the facade and inside we’re all crumbling. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.
I remember when I had my first child wondering why the hell my mom friends didn’t tell me about that part? That part that sucked the life out of you and made you want to curl up into a ball and cry until there were no more tears. I found Anne Lamott’s book Operating Instructions and I felt “normal”. I give it to every new mom.
I just LOVE Anne Lamott. Her books have literally changed my life.
I bet they were lying.
I always assumed that it was only ME who felt that way. I had done things backwards and was trying to get used to having a spouse and a baby, without my mom cooking meals and doing laundry all at the same time. Thank you for sharing this – every mom needs to know it isn’t just HER that wants more while feeling drowned in more than they expected.
I love this — wanting “more” out of every drop life has to offer. Kudos to you for being brave and true to yourself and how you honestly felt.
That class sounded like the wrong place for you; glad you got out! I’m incredibly sensitive too and it’s good and bad, just like you said. It’s all about finding the right people to surround yourself with, isn’t it? 😀
Your honest and lovely post reminded me of a friend who has a 7 month old and experiences feelings similar to the ones you described. I’m not a mom but have seen enough to know that your experience might not be everyone’s but it’s waaaaaay more common than people let on.
Parenting is definitely the most MORE there is. And, while I wouldn’t trade any of it for LESS, there are some days that I want to scream that ENOUGH is as much MORE as I can take. Love this post!
Oh, my, did you ever hit the nail on the head!
I think it’s wonderful that you were honest with them. It seems like there’s such pressure to make everyone believe that things are always perfect, but there’s so much that goes along with motherhood. It’s so complicated, it is so much MORE. I love this piece!
Thank you. I’ve never been able to sugar-coat things or pretend to be different than what I am. I suppose I was also hoping that by being more “real” that others would be more “real” too and we could have a “real” conversation, but…
So well put! I could absolutely relate to that feeling early on about how much harder it was than expected and how sometimes everyone around me didn’t seem to be struggling like I was. True friends though will have your back, see where your coming from and allow you to be honest. Great post..
Thanks, Michelle. It sounds like a lot of people can relate.
It was so refreshing to read this, because all I ever hear from new moms is how much they love their child. .. How wonderful it feels… All the stuff you heard in class. Only the women I’m close friends with have ever told me the truth about motherhood, which is hardly ever flowers and candy. Thanks for keeping it real. Always reach for more.
I wish I had been in that class with you, because I was in that class WITHOUT you. I was completely bowled over by taking care of my first baby. It was alien and terrifying, and I never understood the blissed-out moms. But what a salvation it was to finally find real moms, as you did. Parenting is more, and it’s messy, and I’ve had to grow into it. Hardest job I’ve ever loved.
oh… you met a bunch of Stepford Moms. I feel for you and know exactly how you felt as a new Mom. I felt so much guilt for not being elated 24/7. So glad you found some real friends who were actually real people AND THANK YOU, especially, for being brave enough to speak this onto the paper.
Glad I came to visit you from the SITSSharefest!
Stepford Moms! Yes, that’s great.
At least you told the truth, despite the blank looks. As you can see from the comments, there are lots more of us out here!
Yes, there are definitely many of us out there. I can’t help but wonder, though, why so many people still pretend.
Good for you for being the voice of truth in that room! Although my children are the greatest loves of my life, they have also tested my sanity more than once. Anyone who denies that motherhood is not always pretty is either lying or delusional. Yes, it is rewarding and can be wonderful BUT then there are the days that you just feel overwhelmed, inept, scared, lost. I ‘m so glad that you found a group of friends that can offer support and be honest about the struggles that we all face as mothers. Thank you so much for speaking out and for wanting more!
Thank you! And thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts.
I definitely agree with you. Parenting is much MORE in every sense of the word. Good for you for being honest! As a mom of two, I’ve had my share of stressful days, loss of temper and patience, but I wouldn’t trade being a mom for the world! Stopping in (late) from Sharefest!
This is brilliant, Christine. We are so similar – you could have been describing me in every word of this post. Maybe that’s why I am so crazy about you and your writing! 😉
Thanks, Mary. It seems like so many people feel/felt this way. I wonder why it still feels like there is so much pretending going on, you know? Thanks again for your kind words. They really mean a lot.