The Reality of Motherhood

by Joanna Booth

May 14, 2018

The reality of motherhood…

I loved watching SNL this weekend (The Day You Were Born) and the portrayal of how we gloss over the terrible parts of motherhood for our kids. It was hilarious, but so true. It inspired me to write this blog post on some of the realities we don’t discuss and tend to forget on Mother’s Day. The reality of motherhood, is it’s hard work. There are many celebratory moments, but an awful lot of tough spots.

 

Yesterday, I didn’t do much. My youngest jumped in the bed and said “Mom, I have a secret…Happy Mother’s Day!” My oldest did tell me the same, just at the end of the day. Teenagers (insert eye roll). My husband came in and asked me if I wanted breakfast in bed from Starbucks. I gladly accepted the Starbucks, but I don’t believe in eating in bed. So I ate with my youngest at the breakfast table. This was a sweet moment where I felt loved, relaxed and thankful.

 

It was a peaceful Sunday. Niles was sleeping in the bed next to me. I had plans to go to church, but I rested instead. We had spent Saturday celebrating my daughter’s 18th birthday by meeting up with my mom and nephews. It was a half birthday, half mother’s day trip. It was a full and exhausting day of festivities. But I love getting to see my family.

 

For Mother’s Day, I never expect or request much. And honestly, I ask for the same thing every year. I wanted the dishes and my stove cleaned, a new pancake pan, and flowers. The reality is, my house was a mess on Sunday. Does it make me less of a mother? No. Do I feel my family loves me less. No. But sometimes, it’s nice to be appreciated. There are lots of days where we as mothers feel over-extended, over-used, undervalued, and insignificant to the family plan. Sometimes it feels like we live in a vacuum where no one hears us, wants to help us, or loves us. Mother’s Day is the one day we look forward to everyone saying they appreciate our existence….and heck leaving us alone!

 

We are fed these touching Hallmark images and videos of how moms should be treated on the one day where we show our appreciation. The one day where we aren’t supposed to lift a finger and be celebrated. All because we went through this right of passage of giving birth and are now mothers. It’s like how Valentine’s Day is presented to us, or any other special occasion. We should be showered with love this one time of the year. But it’s not reality. Honestly, we should strive to show love everyday. But if that’s asking too much, at the least, such adoration should be shown on Mother’s Day.

 

See, I try to take the small wins and remain positive about life. But I don’t know a lot of times my family showers me with love and gifts. Let’s just be real here. It’s funny because my love language is the one where you give gifts and surprises. It also shows up in my business all the time. I love to surprise clients, give them gifts, and make sure they feel special. It’s a way for me to satisfy a need that I don’t often get.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, my family loves me…I know this. I’ve known my husband since we were 16 and he is the best person for me. My kids think I’m awesome, a celebrity of sorts. But sometimes I want to be shown love (give me stuff) instead of knowing I’m loved (thoughts). Sometimes the little acts of kindness like a rose, or a clean house, or kids not bugging me is more appreciated and needed for our mom sanity.

 

My opinion, like it or not, is that motherhood is probably one of the biggest pipe dreams out there. The portrayal of mothers, the expectations, the sappy vignette around what this job entails is a self-righteous bag of bull. New moms have no idea what to expect. Labor is rough, which is then followed by sleepless nights.

 

You don’t get sleep for years…

I’m being somewhat sarcastic, but there is a reason why parent only getaways are so sought after. But the beauty is when you see your baby sleeping. It completely washes away all the tantrums that occurred less than 2 minutes ago. Babies are precious when they are sleeping. So precious we temporarily lose our minds and want to pick them up and snuggle them. But don’t! Never wake a sleeping baby. You’ll be cursing at the thought if you do. Also, the hallmark moments we see on TV we secretly try to create. When my son hops in my bed and snuggles is a treasured and fleeting moment. He’ll soon be too big to do that, and I’ll be glad I have this time to remember when I’m old and gray.

picture of a baby yawning during his newborn session with joanna booth photography

There is the lottery selection of which behavior ball your kid will get…

Will you kids be a Powerball winner with stellar behavior? Or that stinking number that gets right in between your million dollar win? Kids will behave on all levels of the spectrum from good to horrific. Whether they are 2 and are being terrible, or 18 and unmotivated. It’s behavior roulette! Because often times you just won’t know how they will behave in school, church, or the grocery store. One day they are angelic, the next they aren’t. Once you think you’ve figured it out, it sifts through your hands like sand. You’re constantly grabbing at a level of consistency to feel normal. You know that sour patch commercial…that’s a perfect example of kids.

picture of a bingo game board

In addition to the welcoming world of child behavior, enter in other parents’ behavior…

Lord, take the wheel! You will get sick of hearing about how little Betty is so smart, more accelerated in school, can jump rope upside-down at 3 months old, or started writing her alphabet in cursive and in Latin by Kindergarten. Seriously! The level of peer approval, and comparison is tough. It’s like a level of corporate group-think but for kids. If interactions with other parents doesn’t have you second guessing your parenting skills…family members will.

 

Now let’s ride the ferris wheel of appreciation…

When they are little, you really appreciate how much teachers put together programs to celebrate mothers. I love the spaghetti pasted cards that spell “I Love You” and the barely recognizable drawings of yourself on the front of it. The tiny hugs and gleam in their eyes because they want to tell you you are special. Embrace that stage in life. Because it subsides after awhile.

 

They become teenagers and then you turn to your spouse for that appreciation. And if he was off the hook for a few years, it’s time for him to ramp it up. I’m patiently waiting for the next decade to pass when my oldest will have her own child, then start sending me gifts of appreciation. Because it’s not until we have our own children that we step into the light of reality to see how great our mothers really were. How hard they worked to raise us, give us opportunities, work on those late night projects, and run to the store at midnight because their child forgot something for school.

The reality of the reality…

I saw a Facebook post that said:

 

Thinking of You:

Mothers who have lost children

Mothers who have lost mothers

Mothers with strained mother relationships

Mothers with strained child relationships

Those who have chosen not to be mothers

Those yearning to be mothers

                                                                                          a picture of a moon, clouds, and crown taken by joanna booth photography

When I think of how motherhood can sometimes be the most unthankful job in the world, I was reeled back to reality when I saw this post. To those who have lost their mothers or their children, I can’t even image! For the many women struggling to get pregnant, I say keep the faith! My heart goes out to you! To those who choose not to go down that path…I’m not mad at you. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, but I understand and was you at one point in my life.

 

There’s something sacred and special about being a mother. An unattainable bit of happiness, love, and pride that comes over us when we think about our children. Regardless of the sleepless nights, lack of appreciation, and behavior issues…they are ours. We love them unconditionally and feel pain when our kids feel pain. We celebrate their wins and encourage them to be better in their losses.

 

The reality is that motherhood makes us better, smarter,  and more driven to love, protect, and guide our children to be better human beings. And regardless of how much I didn’t get flowers or a clean stove…I wouldn’t trade motherhood in for the world. That’s the reality of the reality. Ha!

As a photographer my love of capturing new moms, to grandmas is what I love to do. In a previous blog post (Memories In Portraits) I talked about how moms should be in portraits, and also in my post Empty Walls where clients need to print images and hang them. I highly recommend we all do this to preserve these special memories.

 

To all the moms out there, thanks for pretending it was easy! Love you!

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