The main reason that I started this blog was to say all the things that you are not supposed to say about parenthood. Like, “Hey, being a mom isn’t all smiles and rainbows. It can be shitty sometimes (literally) but that doesn’t mean it isn’t amazing.” Or “Sometimes I fantasize about just one night ALL. BY. MYSELF.” Or “I love my daughter but sometimes she makes me so crazy I want to scream.” I believe that the things that no one ever says about parenthood are the things that people most need to hear. Not to scare people or dissuade them from having kids, but to let people know that if they feel this way they are not crazy or horrible people… or even worse, horrible parents.
Motherhood can be very isolating. A new mother spends most of her time inside the confines of her house caring for her new baby, and that is just the beginning. As a new mom, you often feel isolated from your friends who don’t have kids because their lives are now so different from your own. For example, they actually get to sleep for longer than 45 minutes in a row, shower regularly, and put a cohesive thought together. During those first few months it’s hard to find something in common with someone who doesn’t smell like baby spit-up. It’s understandable. But sometimes you even feel isolated from your friends who do have kids. They seem to do it so effortlessly that you are sure that they will think ill of you if you reveal your own fears and frustrations. You also can feel isolated from your partner because he doesn’t understand what you are going through. How could he? He’s not gestating what feels like the spawn of Pele. His body hasn’t undergone an extreme, and mostly unpleasant, transformation (except for the sympathy weight he may or may not have gained due to a pregnant wife who may or may not have forced him to eat at places like Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. Sorry honey.) He doesn’t wake up every two hours to let a small human suckle his nipple until it bleeds – and if he does, think about finding a new partner. To a mother, especially a new one, it can seem like no one in the world could possibly understand the way you are feeling… and it can make you feel very alone.
The worst part is that often the people who should be supporting you, the ones who DO understand what you are going through – the moms – are the ones who can make you feel the worst. We hear a lot about the bullying of kids. We see movies about mean girls. But what about Mean Moms?
You know the type (especially if you live in LA). They prance around the parks, the coffee shops, and the Mommy and Me classes with their perfect hair, perfect make-up, clothes that are somehow free of spit-up and shoes that actually match (not just the outfit, but each other… a near impossible feat on 2 hours of sleep.) They talk about their kids as though they are perfect and about motherhood as though it is easiest thing in the world. They look at you with judgement in their eyes if you so much as hint that you are tired, frustrated, scared or otherwise human.
Mean Moms don’t necessarily SAY anything mean. Often it’s more about what they don’t say. Like the fact that her baby woke up 12 times last night, and damn, is she tired. (Instead, she enjoys every extra minute she gets to spend with her daughter, even if it’s at 3 AM. ) Or the fact that she is worried that her 15-month-old hasn’t said his first word yet. (Talking is so 2011. She is working on signing. All the celebrities are doing it.) Or that she is having trouble losing that last 10 lbs of baby weight. (It’s actually 10 lbs. of pure muscle from her personal training sessions!) Or that she wishes her perfect husband took more interest in their new baby. (He’s working really hard to pay for that expensive stroller.)
I could go on and on, but instead I am just going to say this – Ladies, stop it with the Mean Mom act. Leave it for the teeny-boppers, who don’t yet know any better. Stop trying to pretend that you have everything figured out, that life is perfect, and that you are perfect. Reach out to other women, or men, who seem like they need help. And if you need help, ask for it. Many people don’t realize that you could possibly feel alone while spending 24 hours a day with a new baby, but the truth is that you can feel more alone than you ever have before. Tell a friend and let her help you, even if all you need is an ear. (But if this friend offers to help with dirty diapers or laundry… marry this friend and don’t look back.) But the most important thing to remember is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You are not the only one feeling hopeless or clueless or nameless. You are not the only one who sometimes can’t remember why they thought this whole parenting thing was a good idea. I promise that you are not the only one. And I promise it will get better. And if you spot a Mean Mom, let me know, and I promise to kick her ass. At least, in my mind. I am a total badass in my mind.