None of you will say it, but you’re all *thinking* it…
I always strive to support women through motherhood as best as I can. I have based my entire career on educating mothers on the realities of pregnancy, postpartum and early parenthood and how those affect mental health. I create educational resources, provide mental health support, suggest wellness tools, and spread information about these chapters.
And sometimes the best way I can support you is by just telling it as it is. Words can have a lot of power. Articulating common experiences during the perinatal phase can be so validating because it means that a) you’re seen and reassured that what you’re going through is quite common and b) someone else has put language to your reality so you don’t have to.
One of the most bullsh*it things about motherhood is that we’re expected to accept it in all of its craziness, adjust without problems, never complain, and even enjoy it all the time. I’m sorry but those are some wildly unrealistic expectations!
There are some (many) parts of motherhood that are just really hard and inherently difficult. I’m talking about the physical pain you endure before and after birth, the anxiety you feel during pregnancy, the stress that comes up when your baby won’t stop crying, and all the minor losses that you must grieve as you make one of the biggest transitions you will make in your entire life.
What makes matters worse is the guilt we as mothers often feel. There’s so many things that are just freaking hard… but we’re often too scared to admit it out loud. Why? Because what if it means something about us as mothers? What if we appear not to love our kids or we seem ungrateful? What if we say how we *really* feel and others don’t get it and just make us feel worse? These are all valid concerns. But if you’re having a hard time, I still want you to know that that’s a valid way to feel.
Below are 25 truths about motherhood that are common but fairly uncomfortable to admit out loud to friends. How many have you related to recently?
This is so common. I mean I hear this all the time. Whether it’s your first pregnancy or a subsequent one, you may just not feel that ecstatic joy that society expects you to have. That’s ok. Maybe you’re worried about giving birth, getting a postpartum mood disorder, or you’re nervous because you don’t entirely feel ready. A lot of women find out they’re pregnant and feel shock, disappointment, frustration, fear, or anxiety. Some also experience negative emotions towards their baby. It’s so common. Not just you I promise.
2. I’m not doing well
You’re not doing well but for some reason, when your friends ask, you’re unable to say so. Instead, you keep conversations surface level or only report the good stuff. What would happen though if you were to confide in your friends and say something along the lines of, “Hey, things are feeling overwhelming and not great at the moment. I need a bit of emotional support.” In all likelihood your mom friends would understand and even feel the same. Your friends without kids may also have the capacity to take you out for lunch and listen with non-judgmental ears.
3. I secretly hate my partner
This happens. Most relationships take a hit after having a baby. When you really think about it, that makes sense. So many things literally change overnight and suddenly you just don’t have the same time, capacity, and energy to connect like you used to. For moms, the balance of things can also feel so unfair. You had to be pregnant for nine months. You gave birth. You have to breastfeed. And now you are doing the bulk of the household chores, night waking, meal prep, etc. Sometimes all your partner has to do is chew too loudly and you want to kill him. I have a course that addresses this resentment and relationship imbalance. Check it out here.
4. I’m scared of the thoughts that pop into my head sometimes
Intrusive thoughts in motherhood are so common and can be so scary. They usually focus on harm coming to you or your children. And guess what? They thrive on shame and silence. If you want to take their power away, try opening up with a friend you trust. “Ugh my brain is so weird sometimes. I always visualize these crazy pool accidents.” Since intrusive thoughts are so common, it’s more than likely that your friend has a few of her own to share.
5. I regret having kids
This is such a tough feeling to sit with and it can be hard to have a thought like this without feeling guilt, shame, self-criticism, fear, and then further regret. Some moms immediately love motherhood. Some don’t. If you have doubts as to whether or not you’d go back and do it all differently, you’re part of a really big group of women. Sometimes finding *your* people can make all the difference in this experience. Maybe you’re not into a traditional approach to parenthood (but society has you feeling like you should). In a case like that, finding the right friends who share your values can be a great way to make the experience more positive.
6. I’m lonely
We need to feel heard, seen, witnessed and held. When we don’t have that, loneliness and isolation kicks in. It’s so tempting to only show the positive side of motherhood when secretly, you wish you had a close mom friend to confide in.
7. I’m not sure if I’m any good at this
Every mom feels this way sometimes. What if you could kick off a conversation with the *right* group of mom friends and all have a good laugh together about the things that have gone wrong lately? You accidentally sent your kids to school with frozen lunches. Your friend forgot to bring her child’s bag to the camping weekend and had to improvise. These things can feel like failures in the moment but they’re relatively harmless and it can relieve a lot of stress if you laugh about yourselves together.
8. I miss my old self
You miss spending your money and time on you. You miss your old routine and having less responsibilities to constantly take care of. You miss girls nights, your old wardrobe, solo travels and your yoga group. Sure, you wanted this life and you like your current life as well. But sometimes you just miss those days!
9. I feel disconnected from my body
Pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and mom life took a toll. Things don’t look or feel the same physically. You don’t feel at home in your own body anymore and maybe body image issues are also coming up. You don’t say anything to your friends because it seems like a silly thing to complain about. Really though, it’s totally justified. This is such a common experience, that I actually created a free resource to improve body image issues. Get it here.
10. I’m going through a hard time with my relationship
You may not be at the level where you hate or actively dislike your partner, but things might feel strained and just out of sync. Sex postpartum can feel weird or even scary. And with so many new things to tackle, it may have been weeks since you really had a deep conversation. This is so common for couples after a baby comes into the picture that I’m positively sure that someone in your life will understand. My course that addresses certain relationship challenges postpartum is also here so if you want to do some research on your own first, that’s up to you!
11. I don’t actually know if I’m connecting with my baby
It doesn’t have to be love at first sight. Maybe nobody told you but the connection between you and your baby will grow over time. Sure, some mothers feel that love and connection instantly, but plenty don’t! If you were to get honest with your circle of friends, surely more than one person would relate.
12. I haven’t felt like myself since having kids
These mom confessions aren’t just for mothers of babies or really young kids. Motherhood can quickly turn into a self-sacrificing endeavor if you don’t catch it. You used to have the cute apartment, go out dancing with friends, or host dinner parties. And you can totally get back to that! Having this conversation is the kind of thing that can prompt a girl’s night, friend trip or commitment to a new hobby. (I tried roller skating this year!) Rather than suffering in silence, bringing this feeling to light can inspire change for more than just you.
13. I’m really worried I’m going to cause harm to my kids
This is related to intrusive thoughts again. Most of us have an intrusive thought or two that comes up again and again. Yours might be something like fearing you’ll leave the stove on and your kid will burn herself or worrying that you’ll drown your baby in the bath. These thoughts just… happen. The good news is that they hold less power the more you admit how silly they are. If you have scary intrusive thoughts, here’s a workshop that will help.
14. I just want alone time
To go out with friends, to watch lighthearted shows on Netflix, to cook up a storm, to sleep in, to read, to do a long workout, to travel, or to do absolutely nothing. Sometimes you just want time and space for you. Sometimes you actually don’t want to be with your family. Nothing wrong with that!
15. If I were to go back in time, I’m not sure I’d become a mom
As a therapist, I’ve seriously heard it all. And I’ve heard this mom confession dozens and dozens of times. The funny thing about saying something—even the “worst” thing—out loud, is that that very act can minimize its impact. Say this to your friend who really gets you and you might be met with a huge sigh of relief and a “OMG me too!” Motherhood is just HARD. Maybe you both need an afternoon to vent about what’s causing the regret and a good chat about what you’d be doing instead in another life. It’s good to daydream because by looking at it rather than avoiding it, you may come up with some creative ways to invite more joy and excitement into your current life. Yeah, a chat like this could also bring up some FOMO or jealousy but isn’t that still more productive than hiding in shame and letting a thought like this eat at you?
16. I’m jealous of women who don’t have kids
You might see what other childless women are doing and feel that pang of envy because you wish you could do that too. Maybe they seem lighter or freer but you don’t actually know what they’re dealing with. Even though it’s normal to compare sometimes, that can intensify things like postpartum depression, anxiety and low self-worth. A lot of weight can also be lifted by just confiding in a friend. “You know, sometimes I envy women without kids.” Boom weight lifted! If you’re thinking this a lot, maybe it’s time to give back to yourself. My self-care challenge is a way to do that. Plus, it’s free.
17. My partner doesn’t get it
A lot of women end up feeling that their partners take them for granted or don’t recognize all that they do in order to keep the family going. Resentment stems from unmet needs. Do you know which of your needs aren’t being tended to? Full disclosure: most of your friends’ partners don’t get it either. The longer you all keep quiet about it, the longer it’ll take for them to become aware.
18. I’m running on fumes
What if you were to just say it like it is next time your friends ask? “I’m running on fumes. Motherhood is burning me out. I’m tired and I need more support.” Sometimes it’s wise to get professional support before you really feel like you need it so that you don’t reach a breaking point.
19. Sometimes I don’t know if I like my kid and that makes me feel guilty
One really weird thing about motherhood that most people absolutely don’t talk about is that you don’t get to pick your kids. You can raise them as best as you can, you can lead by example, and you can illustrate your values. But you don’t get to choose their personalities and for some moms, there can be clashes that are hard to sit with. There’s only so much you can control or influence and if you’re having a hard time letting go of that, you’re definitely not alone.
20. I miss the social life I had before kids
We know you love your kids. We know you love many elements of your life right now. You can also miss spontaneous evenings out, restaurants or summer travel on *your* itinerary. Both can be true at the same time.
21. Motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done
From growing a literal child and carrying it around for nine months to figuring out how to actually *raise* her all while keeping a career going, and tending to yourself and your relationship… those are all hard things to do on their own. Now to do them all at once while being expected to go with the flow when days get turned on their head for no reason? Seriously. So. Hard. If you don’t want to admit this to anyone in your life, I’m here to validate that.
22. My expectation of motherhood was different than the reality
Society focuses on things like “pregnancy glow” and “the mom who does it all.” There’s the annoying pressure to “bounce back” right after giving birth or be the pinterest-perfect mom. There are also people who only show/talk about the things in their life that are going well. So yeah, all of this creates an unrealistic expectation which you don’t have to keep comparing yourself to.
23. I feel like “just a mom” now
We all need to feel seen and witnessed, for all parts of ourselves, not just our role as a mom. You’re a multi-faceted human being with distinct traits, strengths and interests. We need to be witnessed so that those who are close to us can celebrate who we are and what we’ve become. You might not say it to your friends but when you feel like “just a mom,” it’s as if certain parts of you—your spontaneity, your intelligence, your creativity, your sexuality—aren’t important anymore. Which just isn’t true.
24. I cut corners when I feel like I’m just over it
We all do this. What’s with the pressure to do everything perfect all the time? Sometimes all you have time or bandwidth for is boxed mac and cheese, letting your kids watch tv all morning, or not enforcing bedtime because you don’t feel like dealing with the complaints. So what? Can you let some of the perfectionism go?
25. I hate being pregnant
Not everyone enjoys pregnancy. If your friends and family did, good for them. But really there can be so much physical discomfort, pain, uncertainty, and anxiety that can come up during this time. If you’re not loving it, there’s no reason to feel ashamed or guilty. Just because you’re grateful to be pregnant doesn’t mean you have to enjoy physically carrying a child. Those are separate things.
Motherhood can just bring on such a mixed bag of emotions. Some conflict with one another but pop up anyway. Certain ones can be easy to move past whereas others can just feel horrible enough to sit with let alone admit out loud. Even though you might feel ashamed of your confessions that you’d fess up to if you could, there’s nothing wrong with identifying with any of these. No phase is perfect and it’s okay to admit to what you don’t love about this one.
And if you’d like to continue to dive into some self-help strategies as you continue to work through the ups and downs of motherhood, check out my self-compassion affirmation cards. They’re totally free and they will help. Feeling ashamed to say what’s truly on your mind often stems from self-judgment or self-criticism. These cards help you re-route your thinking so that you can feel the opposite. Picture being able to meet yourself where you’re at with compassion.