Hallmark and Disney movies have never been completely honest about what happens after I dos. Dirty dishes, piles of laundry, petty arguments with your spouse — the list goes on. When you factor in the reality of having kids, to say that life is not a walk in the park would be an understatement.
Of course, there’s no denying that there is nothing more fulfilling and enriching than being a mother, but there’s also no harm in being honest about the challenges that come with it. Not every mother is prepared for what’s to come, so here are some
Reality: It affects your marriage or relationship.
Parenthood affects even the strongest of marriages and relationships. It doesn’t matter how good you were at communicating before the kids came; the truth of the matter is, you will clash. This is understandable because you and your partner come from different family cultures and backgrounds, and might have different opinions about parenting.
The fix: When this happens, don’t panic. A study showed that 92% of couples reported a gradual increase in conflict after having a baby. It’s extremely common, and just because you and your partner have different ways to go about things, it doesn’t mean you married or had kids with the wrong person. Even before you decide to have kids, talk to your partner about your parenting philosophies, both major (ex. whether you will work or not; if you will raise your kids with certain religions or none) or minor (name ideas) so that when the kids come, you’ll know where the other stands and you can compromise where you need to.
If you weren’t able to plan, then communicate with your partner with your defenses down. Don’t take their different opinions as an attack on your parenting; come to the table with the belief that the other wants the best for your child, just like you.
Reality: People will always have an opinion and something to say.
When you post something about your motherhood journey on Instagram or Facebook, expect people (some, not all) to have an opinion about your parenting, or to give unsolicited advice. It’s annoying, but it happens.
The fix: Be secure in who you are and what you do as a mother. If you did your homework and research while you were pregnant, then don’t let what other people say get to you. You are your mother’s child, and you know your baby more than anyone else. As long as you’re in open communication with your doctor and you let yourself be guided by science and peer-reviewed research, then you’re good to go. Be kind to yourself and don’t let other people’s opinions matter.
Reality: You lose your identity and many of the things that make you, you.
Yes, the books, the blogs, and people in your life have warned you about this, but they don’t tell you just how much. In the blink of an eye, your entire world will revolve around one tiny person who steals your heart, your time, your energy, and everything in your life that you can give. After having a baby, you may not have the time to meet with your friends, engage in your hobbies, and as productive as you can with work. You will lose many of the things that make you, you.
The fix: Don’t see it as losing yourself, but rather, finding a new side of yourself that wasn’t there before you became a mom. You’re still you—you just have different priorities now. But don’t take this as an excuse to not care for yourself; do whatever you can to make sure you still give yourself some tender loving care and to remind yourself of the things you enjoyed pre-motherhood. Here are some ideas to care for yourself even as you care for your little one:
- Have your siblings or someone you trust to babysit your child for an afternoon and go on a romantic date with your partner.
- Get your hair dyed — especially since you weren’t able to get this done when you were pregnant.
- Pamper yourself by getting a mani-pedi, a facial, or a Botox injection to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
Make it a point to have me-time at least once a month. Self-care isn’t selfish, especially when there are people in your life who are willing and able to take care of your kids while you spend some time for yourself.
Yes, motherhood comes with its unique set of challenges and hardships, but nothing will ever take the joy and fulfillment of raising up a child. So don’t give up, and let your kid inspire you to be resilient, kind, and someone who accepts help when she needs it.