Mother’s Day Edition: Motherhood expectations vs. reality

Mother’s Day Edition: Motherhood expectations vs. reality

- in May 2017
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Motherhood is different for everyone, yet very similar in a lot of ways. In recognition of this Mother’s Day, I asked some friends and family members their thoughts on motherhood, before and after they became parents. Everyone loves their kids beyond words, and we all draw on our own childhood experiences to influence how we parent our kids now.  I answered these questions too, but all the answers are anonymous.

 

  1. When you were a kid, what did you envision being a parent was like?

I thought parenthood would be time-consuming and exhausting, but I loved kids and started babysitting at a frightfully young age (10 years old)! I have always felt an easy connection with children, but I never imagined being a stay at home mom. I pictured “doing it all” by being a Supreme Court justice and playing Carnegie Hall, and having a bunch of kids too.

I did not remember imagining being a mom, I grew up outdoors… going boating on the river with my dad and picking water lilies right out of the water. I picked and ate blueberries, strawberries, and sweet peas off the vine and climbed apple and walnut trees. I never thought about growing up and becoming a parent. I did not envision what it would be like to become a mother until it became my reality for many years.

For some reason I always envisioned being on a picnic or at a dinner table with my family and my kids. I also envisioned road trips which is actually hilarious because my kids hate being in the car for a long time!

I always envisioned a close family unit like I had with my own parents. I am very close to both my parents. I always felt my parents respected me as a person even when I was little. They guided me through life and had boundaries and expectations, but I always felt a sense of respect from them. I hope my kids like me as much as I like my parents.

 

  1. How did your childhood vision of motherhood compare to reality when you became a mother?

It is a million times better than I thought, and actually less tiring than I anticipated because I don’t feel completely run down and ragged every day. All the clichés about loving your children are totally true.  My kids are special magical little creatures and I feel lucky to be around.

Meal times and car rides are literally the most stressful times of being a mother right now.  It’s really ironic and hilarious because I thought lots of picnics and road trips were in my future.

Parenting was more work than I thought, and I had really great kids.

So far so good! I think my kids are still a fan of me after 5 years, so that’s an accomplishment! We still have a long way to go but I have high expectations for respectful, strong relationships in the future.

 

  1. What has been the biggest surprise about motherhood for you?

I am surprised I don’t enjoy doing arts and crafts projects with my kids. Turns out, I just want to do the project myself. Give me those crayons!

Honestly, how much I love them! It is SO cliché, but no one can describe the amount of love you will feel for these tiny human beings. I always think about the first year every single moment with this little human, and I wasn’t sick of him yet! How many people can you be with nonstop and not get a little sick of them?

 

  1. What has been the most challenging part of motherhood for you?

Beyond the baby phase, it’s a lot more mentally challenging. I’m fielding a lot of unexpected big life questions and observations.  Also, it’s challenging finding a balance between carving out time for the kids, time for me and time for my marriage.  Everyone wants more time with Mama.

I feel like I lose my patience when I am trying to get work done at home and they want my attention. Obviously I want to pay all of my attention to my kids, but I work at home a lot of the time. This is a big challenge.

I am an introvert, so not having all of the alone time I love is hard at times. Parenting alongside my husband is hard at times because although we are similar in our parenting styles, we definitely have our differences. Sometimes it is hard staying firm with my husband’s parenting decisions if I don’t agree with him.

Aside from lack of sleep the first year, the most challenging part was letting go when my children were becoming young adults.

The teenage years were the most challenging because I did not know how to raise teenagers.

 

  1. If you could go back in time and give advice to yourself before you had kids, what would you say?

Start meditating now.

Do not forget your own life. Permit yourself to have some “me” time without feeling guilty.

Relax a little bit more.

Enjoy it while you can! I think motherhood is awesome and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, BUT I wish I would have realized all of the lifestyle changes I would be experiencing. Traveling was so much easier with just two plane tickets and staying in whatever crappy hostel or hotel we could find. Now safety and comfort are definitely top priorities when traveling.

Everything is a stage that they will outgrow so don’t sweat the small stuff.

My advice would be to prepare for the best journey of a lifetime.

 

  1. What do you wish you could do again or do differently?

Start a consistent meditation practice with my first pregnancy. It would have saved me a lot of stress and frustration over the years.

I wish I knew about The Virtues Project when I first became a mother. I also wish I hadn’t rushed my oldest daughter to do things like walk and toilet train. I thought I was doing the right thing, but now I realize kids will do things on their own time and that is just fine.

I would travel more before having kids.

I had a lot of postpartum anxiety with my first baby. I wish I would have been more secure in my own choices, as well as being more of an advocate for myself when it came to other people’s actions and opinions. I was much more confident parent after having my second baby.

Savor the moments, even the tough times. A hard adjustment, once you have children, is how your time is no longer your own. It can be frustrating to want to do and accomplish things, but at the same moment, your child needs you. It goes by very fast and if I could do it again, I would stop what I was doing without hesitation, and delight in and savor the moment with my kids.

 

About the author

Michelle Dickstein is a Midwest transplant from the East Coast with her husband. Michelle has her Masters of Public Health and works full-time outside of the home. Michelle writes about her adventures in life as the mother of three adorable and curly-headed young daughters, two of which are identical twins. In addition she writes for Northeast Ohio Parent magazine, blogs (Emailing with My Girlfriends and Kveller) and has made appearances on CBS 19 and Fox 8 news as a lifestyle and parenting "expert" (whatever that means)! Michelle is co-authoring a book, “We Do Not Negotiate with Terrorists: Parenting Just Got Real. Positive Parenting Strategies that Work.”

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