Parenting is hard, oh so very, very hard. Much harder than we ever envisioned or imagined. And the sucky thing is, no one ever told us just how difficult it really is. So she's pregnant. The first child is on the way and mom-to-be is excited and scared, happy and nervous, but mostly she is probably oblivious to the difficulties that lay ahead.
Our parents, our friends and family, are all so excited and happy for us. They see our plans, as we decorate the nursery and gather mountains of diapers and wipes in advance of baby's big arrival. They tell us what to pack in our hospital bag, and share stories of labor and deliveries, deliberately leaving out the hardships and difficulties we may encounter.
Months roll on and the countdown is on but still no one has opened up with honest confessions of what day to day life with babies and toddlers and growing teenagers is really like. We have yet to hear any dramatic tales of breastfeeding difficulties, postnatal depression, the loneliness and isolation of being a stay at home Mum. No one has shared the realities of toddler tantrums, incessant crying from a teething baby or the hardship of suffering through sheer exhaustion.
Don't get me wrong, parenting is amazing. I love being a Mum but it is not an easy job. It would be easy to get sucked into your world and feel as though you are failing, but thankfully, in this day and age, we are all connected and Mum's unite through honest and raw social media posts that show the truth, and the unfortunate harsh reality of parenting. These Mum's have had their moments. They have been at the frontline where parenting has been rough and hard ... and they have told the world. I love their honesty, because it shows me that, despite it all, despite parenting being difficult, I'm doing something right and so are these Mum's.
This post by popular Australian parent blogger, Constance Hall, went viral after she spelt it out in plain English how pressurised today's Mum's are and that she is simply done with feeling the pressure. We are living in the generation of the PPP, the Perfect Pinterest Parent, and the Perfect Instagram photo. Our lives should not be measured in picture perfect stills that don't show the whole story. We rate ourselves, under peer pressure, against other Mum's who seem to have it all together.
In Constance's raw and honest Facebook post, which went viral almost instantly because so many Mum's loved and agreed with what she said, she points out the incredible difficulties we face in this day and age as modern Mum's. She asked her Dad how his Mum managed the stresses of daily life with eleven, yes eleven children, and he replied with a truthful response, "she wasn't given half the pressures."
The simple fact of the matter is that our lives are stressful and there are plenty of days when many of us just want to give up. Parenting is hard, a lot harder than any of us imagined.
Constance, continues her post with a thought that we all feel and understand, "So how do we do it, with all of the pressure we are put under? Well a lot of us don't actually enjoy our kids, we are only half present for them all of the time due to the constant pressure to have everything perfect. To go to the gym, answer that email, pay that bill, cook that organic kale, blend it, get it into a patty so no one knows it's kale, get to the doctors...The washing! Petrol in the car...colour your goddam greys! Make the kids lunches cos if you order them again you will be JUDGED!"
With this immense pressure, Constance and every Mum who agreed with her on Facebook could easily give up in this moment but as she says at the end of the post, "I really care about my time with my kids and how they feel about themselves. And I'm not going to let outside pressures and 'super mum' ideals take that away from me."
The reality of motherhood is often hidden behind our smiles and our words and most certainly under our clothes. This beautiful Mum, both inside and out, decided to share an incredibly raw and honest post on Instagram showing that being a Mum is not picture perfect. The scrutiny we are under every day and the pressure we feel to come across as though we have everything together can be unbearable. In today's world, we often feel the intimidation that makes us hide the fact that actually we don't have it all together and that we are actually struggling.
We give up a lot of ourselves, our minds and our bodies, to be parents and sometimes the reality of that sacrifice can't be seen in day to day life. Alexandra Brea posted this incredibly brave and strong photo along with her thoughts on Instagram and found a new sense of freedom by being passionate and intense about her feelings of mother.
“Well, I know a lot of you guys are probably thinking ‘why would she post this picture’, but, it took me 18 months to get here, 18 months to not cry when I look in the mirror, 18 months to finally feel beautiful in my own skin again! No one warns you about the dark sides of motherhood and pregnancy.. no one gives you a heads up on how much you change physically and mentally after you become a mother. It’s been a long and hard postpartum ride for me.. 18 months after my first son and 5 months after my second son I feel like I can finally see the light and it genuinely feels amazing cheers to you mamas who are battling postpartum depression and still getting up everyday for your children! Cheers to you mamas who still cry about the marks on your skin from birthing your perfect babies! Cheers to motherhood, cheers to knowing that this too shall pass! And things will get better.”
Cierra Lyn Fortner, from Missouri, has given us all hope when she posted this Facebook message and picture which told us, it's ok not to have our shit together. I, for one, know that there are many days when my shit is perfectly piling up and I can't cope. A meltdown is on the cards, usually after my daughter decides one more tantrum is exactly what Momma needs to boil over.
Cierra, who is mum to two under one, had a day we can all relate to, in Walmart no less. A Walmart employee praised Cierra for coming across as an exceptional Mum, with well behaved kids, who has it all together. On the inside, this was far from how she feels and she posted on Facebook her honest confession about her daily struggles. So many of us nodded and agreed with her as her post went viral. There are so many days when giving up seems like a solution but we carry on for the love and security of our children and Cierra ends her post with a vital message to all Mums - take care of yourself always.
Cierra said, "But most importantly I want her to know I don't have it together and may never have it all together. I don't know a mother out there that has it all together but everything we do is done with love for our children and that right there makes you the perfect mom and in our children's eyes we most definitely have it all together. From one exhausted mom to another, you're doing great, have that melt down, let your kids eat the crap out of that cereal and take care of yourself always."
How many times have you been there? Sat in your car, or at the end of your bed, with tears streaming down your face as everything bombards you and gets too much. I've lost count myself but it's so refreshing to see Mum's posting messages like this one on social media. I know when I have moments like this, I end up feeling worse through guilt and fear of failure. It feels like the world's eyes are on me and I am being judged for being a less than perfect Mum or worse still, a horrible Mum. It takes me a while to come around and find my groove again. My emotions are out of whack and I am simply struggling.
Seeing posts from Mum's, like Aly Brothers, who posted this heartbreakingly honest Facebook post makes me feel good in an odd way. I feel her pain and her hardship because I can relate to it so much. It makes me feel good to know that I am absolutely not alone and not the only one feeling broken and as though I'm scrambling through this motherhod routine.
Aly's This Is Motherhood post went viral as it touched the hearts of so many of us.
Aly said, "No fancy filters, no good lighting, no new lipstick. It's messy hair that's wet from the rain, yesterday's makeup that I was too tired to wash off, and tears. Motherhood is HARD. Single-motherhood is HARD." What should have been a simple trip to the store ended in tears from herself and her kids and judgement from strangers. We all suffer many days like this, it's coming through them that is the most important part.
She ends her post with, "I know these days will pass, the tears will stop, the fighting will cease, and my babies will be grown. And that will be hard too. So if you see a parent struggling, if you see a kid throwing a tantrum, if you see a mom on the verge of tears ... please say something nice. Please don't glare with judgement. And to all moms out there having a day like mine ... I see you, I know you, I love you. You are strong, and you are doing just fine."
The realities of breastfeeding are not always shown in the spotlight and breast is best is pushed on us everywhere we go. The fact of the matter is that breastfeeding is damn hard and the struggles are most certainly real. Negative judgement is often placed on new Mum's who suffer through breastfeeding only to change to formula because they have to. This should never be the case and a Mum should never be condemned for finding breastfeeding difficult.
American Mum and Blogger, Shannon Peterson, opened up the dialogue for the struggles of breastfeeding by posting this photo of herself and her feeding baby with a backstory that would make every breastfeeding Mum cry with relief at her honesty.
"The other day I spent THREE HOURS like this, people. Over 180 minutes. More than ten thousand eight hundred seconds. Bouncing side to side and back and forth, in a very particular pattern. The truth is, this is who I am most days. Not a put together human who has her act together. Not a mum who can juggle working from home, kids, etc. I'm just a crazy person trying to maintain some semblance of calm while attempting to figure it all out. Counting down the hours until bedtime and the kids are asleep, and then that first delicious sip of a crisp, cold Gin & Tonic or bold red wine."
Oh you're a stay-at-home-Mum! That's fantastic. So, what do you do all day? If you have ever heard these words as a parent who is at home or works from home, I'm sure you were fit to kill. Those few words questioning what you do on a daily basis can be the most infuriating words a Mum who hasn't a moment to herself, who can't get a minutes peace and eats when everyone else is fed, can hear.
I salute this Mum, Ryshell Castleberry, who posted a Facebook post in praise not only of Stay at Home Mums but all Mums, whether they are at home or working because let's face all Mums run the gamut of caring for house and home and the smallies.
Creating a fictional conversation between a husband and a psychologist she goes through the tale of what does she do all day superimposed with the tag line you know, because she doesn't work. We all know Mum's work exceptionally hard with little to no down time. Mum's can't be sick and Mum's have no days off... the same can be said for Dad's!
Part of the post reads like the daily schedule for so many Mum's out there. "She wakes with the baby and changes diapers and clothes. Breastfeeds and makes snacks as well … Usually takes a while to figure something out that she can do while she is out, so she doesn't have to pack and unpack the carseat too many times, like drop off bills or to make a stop at the supermarket. Sometimes she forgets something and has to make the trip all over again, baby in tow. Once back home, she has to feed the baby lunch and breastfeed again, get the baby's diaper changed and ready for a nap, sort the kitchen and then will take care of laundry and cleaning of the house. You know, because she doesn't work."
Hein Koh became tired with the constant posts she was seeing about dreams being dashed and not being able to get anything done because motherhood is hard, breastfeeding is hard, life is hard. And yes, it is very much so, but Hein who is an artist from Brooklyn, posted a very positive and inspirational post after seeing a statement from performance artist Marina Abramović who said having children would have been a disaster for her work. She had enough with the negative attitude and retaliated with a post that shows the epitome of a multitasking Mum. Hats off to Hein!
Hein had a few things to say about that as a woman and a mother who never stopped chasing her dreams after her children arrived. She says, “Becoming a mom (of twins no less) has personally helped me become a better artist—I learned to be extremely efficient with my time, prioritize what's important and let go of the rest, and multitask like a champ.”
She ended her post saying, "What I am saying is that parenting is like any other challenge in life – the biggest f*cking challenge in my own life thus far – and if you embrace it and figure out creative solutions, you can emerge a better person. It’s important to think about the ways in which these challenges can help you move forward, rather than hold you back."
What a positive message for parents who are struggling.
Leah Beyer, known as The Nashville Bump, posted a photo of herself struggling through the pitfalls of breastfeeding. What Leah had assumed or expected to be a natural and ordinary occurrence in any new Mum's life, had turned into a difficult and trying task that had her heading towards breaking point.
She says in the honest post, "We trusted our bodies to grow our babies for 9 months and now we have to trust our body to supply the nourishment for our babes growth & development. Talk about pressure." Leah who admitted she didn't realise that breastfeeding could be so strenuous and heartbreaking, believed her breastfeeding journey with her newborn would be easy and natural but it wasn't to be.
Leah, who sought out the help of a lactation consultant, ended her post with an honest reflection saying, "We so badly want to have our baby thrive. We want that relationship. We want the experience. In the end, fed is best. That's what matters."
I love this incredibly honest and raw post from Mum, Eden Clougher, who publicly acknowledged the incredible difficulties motherhood puts on our lives. In a desperate attempt to soothe her infant who had an allergic reaction, Eden jumped in the shower with her baby with the water on cool to calm her daughter.
What has resulted is a stunningly beautiful image which shows the heartbreak and beauty of motherhood. Eden, unsure at first, decided to share the post on Facebook, to show the true reality of being a Mum. She wrote along with the moving photo, "So, I’ve been debating over the last few weeks about posting this photo…This is what parenting looks like… 3.30am sessions in the shower because she reacted to an allergen and screamed all night. It looks like love and devotion, and exhaustion and relief. It looks like stretch marks, and prickly legs, and raw desperation. There is beauty here… The beauty of silence… The hot water and skin to skin won. I needed it to win; I was out of options. I needed this photo. I needed to freeze this moment so that I can look back and remember the vulnerability and art that is parenting. The delicate balance between genius, and insanity."
As I sat on the chair beside my hospital bed cradling my newborn baby, I was hit with an incredible force called the Baby Blues. I cried for 24 hours solid and my heart ached despite breathing in the freshness of my beautiful new baby. When I came across Danielle Haines' moving post on Facebook, I almost cried again because I was there. I felt that heartache that Danielle is so clearly showing in this post. It's no wonder that Danielle's post went viral because we have all been there. She was brave enough to show the world that giving birth to a baby is an incredible mixed time emotionally as your body empties itself of hormones.
She said under the beautifully honest image, "This is a picture of me 3 days postpartum. I was so raw and so open, I was a f***ing mess. I loved my baby, I missed his daddy (he went back to work that day), I was mad at my mom, my heart hurt for my brother because my mom left us and now I had a little boy that looked like him, my nipples were cracked and bleeding, my milk was almost in, my baby was getting really hungry, I was feeling sad that people kill babies, like on purpose, I had not slept since I went into labor, I didn’t know how to put my boobs away, my vagina was sore from sitting on it while nursing constantly, I was kinda [losing] my mind."
Gylisa Jayne is speaking up and telling the truth! On Facebook she is supporting Mum's who are struggling with the day to day life, the things no one tells you about being a Mum and owning up to the difficult realities of parenthood. Her stark opinions on motherhood will only help Mum's who are finding the days are getting longer and harder and that they just want to give up.
She writes in her honest post, "No one told me that stitches in your vag can actually hurt way more than birthing a baby. No one told me that breastfeeding DOES F**KING HURT. It does ok ? Anyone that says it shouldn’t is only HALF right." I an series of posts on her facebook page she is documenting the harsh realities and making it ok for other Mum's to speak up and out and veer away from parental guilt. She says, "Destroy the idea that you don’t deserve some time for yourself, or for you and your other half to spend time without the little person you created. You are just as worthy of ‘Me time’ as anyone else without children."
Oh those tears, the hardship and the heartache. I'm almost crying with Tess Holliday who posted this photo of herself which had her in tears for two hours. In her emotional post, which we can all relate to, Tess shows the reality of motherhood as she was on the verge of breaking point.
This is the reality of being a mom," she wrote. "I've been up since 3 a.m. Every time I get Bowie to sleep and try to lay him down, he wakes up. He is teething and has no clue I have to work today — most days I can work 15 hour days, take care of both boys, put some lipstick on, and deal with it. Most days I drink my coffee and smile at every little thing he does thinking it's the best thing in the world, but not today."
Tess opened up in a way that only a mother who has hit the bottom can. "My confidence has taken a blow with this birth and it wasn't until this morning I realized why. The pressure of 'looking good' for a living is too much today. When your face is breaking out from the hormones of breastfeeding and total exhaustion from lack of sleep, bags under your eyes, patchy red skin, and to top it off, no energy to work out or leave my bed.
How do you do it? How do you feel confident in your skin and feel like you aren't letting the client down by showing up exhausted and disheveled? Yes, I chose a career based on my looks and I'm the first one to say that beauty isn't what should drive you; it's certainly not what motivates me. As a working mom in an industry that's as critical as mine, where is the line? The balance? The compassion? Is any career understanding when you show up at negative 10 percent because your kids wouldn't let you sleep and you want to hide under your covers and cry? Not many."