Why Being A Mom Isn’t Hard

No one would argue that a mom’s work is hard. Other moms know how it is. Fathers wouldn’t dare to disagree. Recently, I took time away with a friend, and what did we do? We chatted over parenting struggles. I found myself saying things like, “that sounds hard” or “that is a hard stage”. I said it over and over again, almost without even thinking, until I stopped and heard myself. Why did I keep saying it was hard? I hadn’t combined hard with motherhood for a long time. Being a mom isn’t hard, anymore.

I don’t mean that it isn’t demanding. It is. I don’t mean it doesn’t require great effort. It takes all my effort. I don’t mean it isn’t exhausting or never-ending.  It is all of these things. Motherhood is work. Believe me, I know the negatives. I know the suffering. I know the heartache. I know the sacrifice. I wrote my first essay on motherhood, fifteen years ago, before I even gave birth and called it “Maternal Sacrifice.” I wrote:

The retching was endless. For weeks I couldn’t eat or drink. My empty stomach hungered for food and craved nutrients. My body thirsted for hydration. My muscles ached from the retching. The night after my doctor gave me an ultimatum to either get fluids into my body or face hospitalization, I continued to vomit excessively, eight or nine times per hour.

Fittingly, I became a mother on Mother’s Day, but I traded one physical challenge for another, plus quite a few emotional ones. That’s when I started my mantra, “This is hard.” I repeated it to myself when I suffered through all my pregnancies. I repeated it in commiseration with my friends over the daily grind of being a mom. I repeated in conversations with my own mom when I needed answers to all that seemed to fall upon me.

“Being a mom is hard.” They’re just words; words that we’ve earned, right?

Except, our words will define what motherhood means to us. Repeat that phrase long enough, and any mom will begin to resent her work, look for an escape and lose sight of the love that motivated her to do it in the first place.

Whenever I’ve fallen prey to words of frustration too easily spoken, I lose my focus until words of love nurture me back. Many people, through many years spoke words that helped me see that I could succeed as a mom. I heard words of encouragement, not discouragement. I heard positive words of praise versus negative words of disappointment. And I heard the best words of all, “Mom, you’re the best. Mom, I love you. Mom, I need you.”

With such words—even when we speak them ourselves—we remember we’re not doing a job, we’re creating life.  Recently, my husband reminded me that the word sacrifice actually means to make sacred. A little change of understanding gives new meaning to the sacrifice we make as a mom. We turn from labor to dedication. We turn from exhaustion to devotion. We turn from worthy of a vacation to worthy of respect. We turn from what we sacrifice to our children. We turn from the words “this is hard” to “this is holy”.

I admit that being a mom seems hard. But I also know it’s is a stage in our development; we’ll outgrow it. And, someday we’ll see that what we receive as a mom is more than we ever give.

Today’s post is an entry in the Scribbit April Write-Away Contest. You have until April 19th to enter with the topic “Mom.”

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10 Comments

  1. Rebecca
    Apr 15, 2009

    Oh I love this post. I complained all through a perfect pregnancy because I wanted to validate myself. Then, I complained through the first few weeks of my daughter’s life as I recovered from delivery. I NEEDED my husband to understand just exactly what I was sacrificing for this family. As if he didn’t know.

    Motherhood has been the happiest surprise for me- surprise in that I expected it to be the biggest drudgery. As soon as I stepped away from my need to validate, I realized the joy of motherhood. I stopped complaining and embraced it. I still secretly want to be recognized for all my hard work, but if I’m not, it doesn’t matter because motherhood by itself is truly satisfying and joyful.

    I still have YEARS to go! Hopefully I can continue to feel this way when I have teenagers!

  2. Minna Dyer
    Apr 15, 2009

    I am once again in the honeymoon stage of a newborn but I know it will get hard, very hard. Your words are words to live by.
    Thanks!

  3. Michelle at Scribbit
    Apr 15, 2009

    That’s a good point about the word “sacrifice.” We were talking about this in YW on Sunday how this job gives us that opportunity to serve. I forget how much of a blessing it is on some days.

  4. Rachel
    Apr 15, 2009

    Thank you.

  5. David
    Apr 15, 2009

    This is interesting from a male perspective in that I sometimes catch myself in the mindset that being a mother is a job much like me going to work everyday is my job and I have to remind myself that being a good mother and trying to raise your children righteously, to be intelligent, kind, thoughtful etc., takes a lot of effort and it is hard from the perspective of how easy it would be to just let your children watch television all day instead of creating constructive activities to do.

    I appreciate and recognize how much work it is and how large the responsibility and mantle of being a mother is, even if I do catch myself thinking from time to time that it is her “job”. It is so much than that. I make an effort to make sure I give her recognition for her hard work.

  6. Raya
    Apr 16, 2009

    Your thoughts brings to mind why the Home is a sacred place- even as much, or more then Temples- it is a place to make holy.

  7. This is very important for me to remember: “Whenever I’ve fallen prey to words of frustration too easily spoken, I lose my focus until words of love nurture me back.” It’s important to be honest with ourselves and our spouse/friends when things are feeling particularly hard for us, but it’s also important to not let those words of frustration take over and set the tone. Thanks for this beautifully written and thought-out post.

  8. Antique Mommy
    Apr 21, 2009

    I did not know that about the word sacrifice. That idea, for me, only punctuates the true and reality and blessing it is to be a mom. Excellent post.

  9. TJ
    Jun 16, 2009

    I moderate comments on my site and received the following comment. Rather than approving all comments from this author, who is virtually unknown to me, other than an email, I’m choosing to post it under my name, but the opinions expressed are not my own. I’ve pondered her words and will reply in a post and leave that link below after I publish it.

    Comment from Vlinder:

    Blah,blah,blah…..obviously you have a loving, good husband. try being a single mom to 4 kids one of whom is autistic, and watch your ex with someone 10 yrs younger, doing all the fun stuff, and none of the hard stuff. It is not hard, it is brutal. You have NO idea what you’re talking about. Enjoy your stay in lala land, it is how I felt too when I thought I was happily married. Once I found out what a giant scam marriage is, the let down and betrayal was unbelievable, the pain unbearable. Yes, being a mom IS hard. incredibly so. Today is one of those days where I feel like quitting my job. If I was a man and had a man’s job I would get respect, hot chicks, sex, love and all the rest. Now I am treated as a liability, a threat(because I am beautiful and single) and a leper because of the stigma of divorce. You would not believe how bad some women treat me! And I have NEVER dated a married man, it is against my morals.The humiliation is beyond unbelievable.The thought is…I must have done something to screw up my marriage because I am female!!!If I was male it would be my ex who is at fault. I get treated as an outcast at some parties because of my single status, and am considered a charity case for dating because of my four kids. If some ugly old dude wants to date me I am supposed to be on my knees in gratitude. But you know what? I am going to keep my head up high and see my kids for the treasure and achievement they are. I am going to see myself as a catch. This society sucks, it has no respect for mothers and their sacrifices.But to all you deluded scrap booking stay at home mommies…wait till you find out your husband is banging his hot 24 yr old secretary. It sucks. And ..it happens. ALL the time.So..don’t look down on or shun those divorced women…you may be one of them soon. Good men make being a mom a blessing. Bad men…they make it a burden.

  10. TJ
    Jun 17, 2009

    This is my response to the comment above:

    http://tjhirst.com/2009/06/17/what-i-do-about-the-hard-stuff/

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