Intense emotions come to the surface everyday as a mother, swirling around in our minds constantly. We’ve got a plethora of advice at our fingertips preparing us for pregnancy, the early days of infancy, the best practices for raising children, but the mental anguish of motherhood is not often explored or talked about. And not just that parenting is demanding and exhausting, but that it brings about so many conflicting thoughts.
Opposites in motherhood are everywhere. One moment is complete joy and the next, total frustration. Trying to be present in each moment while being so tired and run down; knowing it will get easier with passing time. These are a common theme. Wanting one thing while experiencing another…wanting peace and quiet, and then subsequently missing the babble of our babes. It’s a delicate balance these days, finding ourselves constantly juggling through a mess of emotions and thoughts.
The mindset of a mother is somewhat elusive and hard to understand, yet sacred and unique to each of us. Between the sleepless nights, the seemingly endless feedings, and the constant attention needed of our children, our bodies and minds are sometimes ready to give up.
It starts early on in our journeys, right from the aches of pregnancy, which can be incredibly painful and limiting to our strength. The sleepless nights, the tired ligaments, but as soon as that beautiful baby is born, we miss the feeling of being pregnant. Once those newborn days have set in, we experience a tiredness never known before and then time goes too fast and our babies are now toddlers, and then we miss that newborn phase. And then our toddler becomes a preschooler who wants to read the same book over and over again at bedtime, and we’re just wishing for and looking forward to the days when they’ll be older and able to put themselves to bed without our help.
I’m sure you may be able to relate, but I’ve caught myself in a daydream many times. Wishing for a break, needing just a minute to myself, but then when I take that minute to step back, I think I’m being silly because I have everything I’ve ever wanted. It’s almost like an internal guilt because I start to feel bad for being frustrated with the tiny humans I always hoped for. I think about how lucky I am and how I don’t want these moments to pass me by at all. It’s a fragile viewpoint. It’s even difficult to put into words, but the opposing thoughts we experience on a daily basis could fill a book. Is it just me, or is this the most emotionally conflicting experience of your life too?
It may be the great beauty and joy of motherhood. That these days are so demanding of our time and attention, but that we’re also so aware of their impermanence. My own mother has taught me never to wish my life away, but to enjoy every moment as it comes. Such a beautiful lesson from someone who’s already experienced this fleeting phase of life.
That voice in our heads that keeps putting that internal guilt on us, we should try to be a little gentler towards it. Embracing motherhood and all of its differing emotions is a passage. And while it’s true that each frustrating moment is warranted, our greater logic reminds us that our touch won’t forever be the soothing comfort our children will always crave, and our voices won’t always be the ones that make everything sound alright. The counterpoint, though, is that we will always be their sense of warmth in the world.
Words by Melissa Curman
Photographed by Anna Moller