There’s no doubt about it, being a mom is the hardest job on the planet. It’s a 365 days a year, seven days a week, twenty-four hour a day gig. And no matter how awful you may feel, there are no sick days allowed. It’s no wonder that with a job this stressful every mom has felt like a failure at some point. Contrary to what your Facebook friends would like you to believe, no one is the perfect mom. Between the spit up, diaper changes, bickering siblings and household chores it’s impossible to be the perfect mom 100% of the time. Throw in a full-time job to the mix and moms start to feel like they’ve got ten different balls in the air without even knowing how to juggle.
Social media has added another layer of pressure to mothers who feel like they have to to keep up with everyone else. They see Sharon’s making organic baby food for her son, Cassidy’s teaching her newborn sign language and Tiffany just got a promotion at work. These highlight reels can really get a struggling mother down. So, let’s be honest for a change, ladies.
For the next couple of minutes this is real-talk; real stories, from real moms who’ve felt like total failures. These brave ladies are sharing their stories so that other struggling moms know that they are not alone. Being a mom is hard, you probably will fail on a daily basis, but when you do, know that millions of other moms are in the exact same boat as you, just trying to get through the day.
Stefanie is a certified translator and Stella & Dot Stylist and Mentor from Regensburg, Germany. Her husband is a professional hockey player from Kamloops, B.C. Together they have one daughter and another child on the way. Stefanie has graciously shared her story about how her traumatic birth experience affected her first year as a mother. It all started when Stefanie’s baby was delivered unconscious and rushed to the NICU, while Stefanie herself was rushed to the ER for excessive bleeding. They were both experiencing near death experiences, at the same time, but wouldn’t reunite for another three hours, which severely affected their relationship for the next year.
“Once home she was constantly crying for a solid 10 hours a day. I had little to no experience with babies and for the first days, I thought this was normal. I got an average of 2 hours of sleep because my husband was suffering from a concussion and slept 12 hours a night and 4 hours a day. So all was on me and I had little to no help - plus there were 7 other babies on the hockey team and everyone else seemed to be fine and loving it so I thought "Suck it up Stef, what is wrong with you?".
Fast-forward 11 months later, I had adrenal fatigue, depressive moods, anxiety and panic attacks. And I hated being a mom. It took me until last fall to get my life on track and all my health issues fixed resulting from that. From what I know now the traumatizing birth and the stress after completely depleted my system, my hormonal balance was totally out the window and resulted in all those emotional and mental issues. I found a great doctor, did some natural hormone therapy, a candida diet, histamine diet and liver detox and I am great now. But it was a rocky road and if I wouldn’t have had so much LOVE for my husband (not my daughter I have to shamefully admit) I would have gotten in the car and left and never came back. I thought about it more than once a day for some time.”
Katherine is an English professor, business owner and MBA student from Anchorage, Alaska. This working mom wanted to share her story with other working moms who are struggling to find the balance between, work, love and being a mother.
“I teach anywhere from 12-20 hours per week in the universities. I often have horse clients on the weekend and have to take my daughter with me if my husband is working. In the evenings I am either plugging away at my MBA or working for my horse broker business. Therefore, I feel that often times I am not as present with my daughter as I should be. The evenings are often filled with iPad time, especially if my husband is gone, as I absolutely have to use that time to work, unless I want to stay up until 2am every night. I think one of the hardest things is seeing a lot of stay at home moms that I am can't relate to. I am not home all day, I don't have time to make organic vegetarian whatever for her snack, and I don't have an activity schedule planned for the week.
Working mothers deal with an incredible amount of pressure. No one ever explains to you during your life that the moment you decide to have a child, your career becomes different. You are that woman who decided to have a kid, how selfish of you! Or you are that mom that isn't always available because you have a kid. Meanwhile I feel that men have it a lot easier. I think that has created some resentment inside of me as I continue to advance my career but not without careful thought out planning and incredible time management skills. I think as women we feel we are expected to do everything and shamed when we can't. Therefore, it has been a difficult journey juggling everything and I finally feel like this year I have been able to find a better balance. Whether that is because she is older or because I am just better at this mom job. However, the stress of the last two years has made me hesitant to have another child."
Jessica is a first-time mom who has struggled to find her way through motherhood as she lives abroad with her husband in Germany. She shares her anxiety over being the perfect mom and losing the life she once had as her husband’s life seems virtually unchanged.
“I had thought before having my baby that I wasn't going to love the newborn stage, as I was never really a baby person, but I didn't realize just how much I would dislike it and how I wouldn't feel in love with my baby right away. I had read and heard all these moms say that the love they felt for their babies immediately after birth was overwhelming and so wonderful. It took months until my daughter felt less like a responsibility and more like my daughter that I love. I remember in the first few weeks after she was born, I was crying to my husband saying that there is something wrong with me because I don't love my baby, I don't want her. He was amazing and so encouraging but that didn't make me feel any less guilty about not loving my baby.
I was so jealous of my husband, how little his life seemed to have changed compared to mine. Here he was, bonding with his co-workers while I was dealing with sleepless nights alone. I was starting to get resentful of him for getting me pregnant in the first place and for how my world got rocked and his seemed to just roll along smoothly. And then, I naturally felt so much guilt for feeling that way because you're supposed to love being a mom and I hated it. I definitely want moms to know that the bond can come slowly and it's totally normal to not adore the fresh human that is so dependent on them.”
Kelli is a loving mother of four from Texas who very recently went through a parenting mishap that many parents are sure to repeat. Her youngest son recently wanted to know if Santa Claus was real. Kelli assumed he knew the truth and was just looking for some confirmation, but unfortunately she was mistaken. What her son was really looking for was some reassurance from his mom that Santa does exist. Understandably Kelli felt like she tarnished his childhood by taking away the one belief her growing child was trying to hold onto.
“I feel more like I failed my child. Maybe society or maybe who I want to be as a mom. I feel like I took a part of his childhood away. Santa's such a fun, magical experience and I just had to keep my big mouth shut for just a couple more months. We are so close to Christmas if only I could have gotten through 2 more months! I loved his excitement on Christmas morning. Just being able to see the joy and love he had for Santa. It just warmed my heart. Waking up the entire house some times at 4 a.m. because he wanted to see what Santa brought him. He was one of those kids if I asked him, Carter, did you brush your teeth? He would reply, “Yes!” I could say, “Well Santa's watching you, would he bring you any gifts?” His reply would always be, “ALRIGHT, I'm going to brush my teeth!” It didn't matter if this happened in July! I used the Santa card all year long! And it worked! He's also the baby of four. It breaks my heart that none of the kids believe in Santa any more. Will Christmas even be the same?”
Beth is a mother of three from Calgary who worries that she has provided too much for her children. She is concerned that because she has done so much for her children they won’t know how to take care of themselves once they live on their own.
“I often wonder if all of the things we have done for our kids over the years has been setting them up for failure when they are finally on their own. While my generation typically moved out soon after high school, the current generation seems to live with their parents for much longer. It’s not that I have a problem with my children living at home, I’m sure I will miss these times dearly once they leave. I do however, feel like they are missing out on important opportunities for growth that they would be experiencing if they lived outside of the home.
I suppose we can blame the struggling economy and soaring housing market for our children living at home until their late twenties or early thirties. That I completely understand, it’s not as affordable to venture out on your own as it used to be. However, I’ve found lots of parents, myself included continue to pay for their cellphone bills, car insurance and gas for their now grown children simply because they still live under their own roof. I worry that my children will have no clue how to handle all of these expenses once they are finally out of the house without any financial assistance from my husband and I. Do they have a clue how to handle money? I don’t know and that would be my biggest failure as a mom I think."
Diane is the Martha Stewart of her neighborhood. She’s a master baker, party planner and all around jack-of-all-trades. Even so, this mother of three admits there have been many times that she has felt like a failure as a mom.
“Television and magazines too often paint a picture of a happy mom with dinner on the table, laundry pressed and folded and clean well-dressed children. In actual fact, this is opposite of reality. In reality, lack of sleep, stress about income, carpool, and taking care of sick kids, all while trying to keep the house hold together is an impossible feat. I understand how moms can snap and how children can be in the middle of a situation when all of the above is going on.
I remember a situation clearly when my son Matthew was two and my daughter Stephanie was one year old. I was quite sick, had been up most of the night with Stephanie, and had very little sleep. I woke up in the morning, feeling sick and tired. I had a massive headache and a lack of patience. My husband was at work and I couldn't settle the kids. The phone was ringing off the hook, I needed to get groceries, my car was in the shop getting fixed and the kids wouldn't stop crying. I came very close to stepping over the line to spank them and when you spank in anger, you've lost control. I was right on the verge of losing it. Instead I took a deep breath, picked them up, one on each hip, very calmly walked up stairs, put Matt in his crib, closed the door and put Stephanie in her crib, closed the door and walked away.
I went into the back yard and sat for about 2 hours, while they screamed and screamed. This particular instance bothers me in a lot of respects. I felt that because I left them to scream I was a failure as a mother. I felt guilty that I wasn’t about to conquer the situation and be a patient kind mom like all the other moms. But in another respect, looking back, I was not a failure because I saw my weakness chose to put them in a safe place and walk away until I was in a better place.”
Tara is a hard working mother of two rambunctious boys. Like many working mothers she struggles with finding the perfect balance between work and home life. She often finds herself missing out on important moments, while she is at work and her boys are at home with their nanny.
“I feel like a failure as a mother when my kids learn important milestones in their lives and I’m not there to witness them. A recent example I can remember is when my oldest son, Maddex learned to write his name while I was at work. Since I work fulltime the boys spend between nine and ten hours a day with the nanny. Obviously they are going to learn a lot from her and I want them to, but it still hurts when I come home to find out that I’ve missed another milestone in their lives.
There’s often a love-hate relationship between a mother and her nanny. We love them for caring for our children when we can’t be there, but we hate the fact that they get to be a part of so many important moments that we have to miss out on.
I find it heart wrenching and feel like a failure at times since little things like that should be taught by me. It's a struggle because I love my job and am proud that I contribute to the income for my family, but at times I wish I were a stay-at-home mom. If I stayed at home my sons would be learning how to write their names with me, instead of learning from someone else.”
Faye is a former dance teacher and choreographer from the United Kingdom. She has two children, but having the second came with some unexpected challenges. At 30 weeks pregnant, Faye found out that she had placenta previa and would need to have a caesarean section, which was not her intended birth plan. Luckily, Faye’s son was perfectly fine after a traumatic emergency C-section. Unfortunately she was not, and would not be for some time.
“To cut a long and grueling story short, I struggled with post partum depression for 18 months before even realizing what was happening. My symptoms were physical, projectile vomiting, dizziness, migraines, stomach cramps etc. I was useless. I would be nursing & vomiting at the same time. I had zero energy, zero drive & zero patience. I also had my 19-month-old daughter to look after. My husband was my rock. He took off his skates after work everyday and put on his Dad-hat. He literally did everything. When we finally went for tests, we tested for everything. Full abdomen ultra sounds, MRI's, blood work, urine samples etc. My results all came back clear. Then my doctor recommended I see a psychotherapist and after about a year of seeing one I started to feel pretty normal.
I have beautiful cherished memories of my daughter’s pregnancy, birth & life. With my son, it is rushed and panicked and painful. I don't remember his first giggle, when he first said Mama etc. It's hazy. I feel like for his first year or even 2, I was a failure of a wife and a failure of a mother. I felt this huge guilt towards my daughter as well. Why did I have a second child? Post partum was nothing like I expected. I never knew it could develop into physical symptoms. I always had the feeling I was treading water, I could never stop kicking or I'd drown. I still have moments like that now, but I think that's normal. I encourage all of my friends and family with small children to talk openly about how they're feeling and to never feel ashamed for not feeling perfect.”
Erin is a hair stylist in Calgary, which happens to come in handy since she’s also the mother of four daughters. She shares how she often feels like a failure for being absent from the daily activities at her daughter’s schools.
“My failures as a mom usually are regarding school. I sometimes feel like there is this expectation to be present regarding school activities. There is this banter between the stay-at-home moms around pick up and drop off. Not to mention the constant pressure to have a finger on the pulse of the school curriculum.
I feel like I want to work when my kids are at their "job" but then when I don’t know what’s going on at school I feel judged by other parents for not being present. I don't know all of the kid’s names in the class and I don't feel like I need to, but the Parent Teacher Association moms make me feel like I am lacking because of this. I want to be present when my kids are home and enjoy their activities outside of school rather than focusing the little time and energy I have into school curriculum and bake sales.
It’s unfortunate that there is this constant riff between stay-at-home and working moms. We both constantly feel judged by the other. While I’m feeling judged for missing the latest PTA meeting, the stay-at-home mom feels judged for having the freedom to stay at home with her kids. I wish moms could admit that there is no right way to parent and stop judging each other for their unique style of parenting. The truth is regardless of whether we work or not, we’re all just doing the best we can.”
Tracy is a veteran stay-at-home mom to four demanding daughters. Being a stay-at-home mom is all consuming and Tracy shares how the small daily letdowns began to feel like huge failures for her as she raised her four daughters.
“I frequently feel like a failure when I forget to do something I promised one of my girls I would do. I made the decision to have four daughters and was fortunate enough to stay home with them. They are always my first priority and have been for the past twenty-eight years. I love my girls more than anything in the world and I want to provide for them in every way I can. Unfortunately, sometimes I get too busy and tired and I forget to do something that I promised and it breaks my heart to see that I’ve let them down.
I know that stay-at-home moms can get a bad wrap, for having an “easy” job, but they really shouldn’t. It is the most demanding job on the planet. It becomes so easy to forget yourself while you give everything you have to your children. The little letdowns feel huge to me since my life has been focused on my children for so long. Without a work outlet outside the home, my children are literally my whole world. The failures of letting them down become magnified since being a mom is my sole responsibility. I’ve found it has become even harder as my girls grow up. Teenagers are never aware how much their attitude and sudden hatred for their parents can sting. So when I forget to wash the “only top she wanted to wear for the concert tonight” and hear the door slam upstairs I feel like a failure. One because I let her down and two because she feels like its okay to treat me that way, when I do so much for her every other day of the year.”
Jessica is a stay-at-home mother of one from Vermont. She shares her struggles with health and how it affected her as a mom.
“I never intended to have only one child. Growing up I always felt bad for the kids who didn’t have any siblings. I thought how boring their childhood must have been with only their parents to play with. I grew up with two siblings and it was great. It’s always good to have two siblings so that if you get into a fight with one of them you still have another one to play with. So when I envisioned my life I thought I would have 2 or 3 children. After the birth of my son, I still intended to give him a sibling. I wanted to wait until he was a bit older and self- sufficient so it wouldn’t be completely overwhelming for me. Little did I know that waiting would prevent me from giving him a sibling at all.
I started to have extreme headaches and dizzy spells, daily it seemed. I went to countless doctors and nobody could figure out what the problem was. This went on for over a year and my son was getting older with no one to play with. Both my husband and I were anxious to have another child, but I simply couldn’t. I was in too much pain. Not to mention that the dizziness would make being pregnant pretty dangerous. This has easily been my biggest failure as a mom. I failed to give him a sibling and because of that his childhood will never be everything I wanted it to be for him. I know that there are other options out there and we could adopt or try to find a surrogate. But it still doesn’t erase the fact that as a woman and a mother I failed to provide my son with the greatest gift I could give him, a little brother or sister. I doubt I will ever fully get over that.”
Paula is a life coach from Toronto and first-time mother to a beautiful baby girl named Summer. She shares her struggles as a first-time mom in a foreign country and the pressure she felt to be the perfect mother. You can find out more about Paula on her website www.paulagalli.com.
“I took my 6-week old on a plane from Canada and moved to Denmark, where my fiancé was working. Everyday I felt out of place in this new town, utterly exhausted from lack of sleep and struggled to find my stride as a new mom. This alone made me feel like a failure. I felt like a failure because she wasn't sleeping through the night. She didn't have her very own nursery and for this I judged myself. I felt like a failure because she "should" have had that. I also felt out of place because I was surrounded by a lot of non-moms, not to mention most of my friends back home were non-moms as well which left me feeling very disconnected, misunderstood and alone, making things harder. As an entrepreneur and someone who just loved their independence, constantly being needed by someone all of the time was extremely hard for me. It didn't really matter what I wanted as my needs became second to hers
If I’m being completely honest this sense of "failure" started from the day she was born. When my daughter, Summer, was born I wasn't totally obsessed and in love with her right away, like it is portrayed in the movies, like it "should" be. I was in disbelief that I was now a mother and she was MY baby, MY daughter. I felt guilty that I didn't really feel a connection to her the way I thought I "should" for months. Eventually I found my stride and let go of all of these ideas I had in my head about being the perfect mother. No one is perfect and we’re all just trying to do the best we can. To all the moms out there; be kind to yourself, because you are the opposite of a failure, you are all amazing!"
Rachel is a mother of three from Kansas. She shares how the dissolution of her marriage affected her ability to be a good mother.
“As a mom your first priority is always your children, at least it’s supposed to be. Everyone thinks that once you become a mom it’s the most important thing in your life and nothing else matters as much as your child or children. In some respects I agree with this sentiment, but in another way totally disagree. People often forget that as women transition into motherhood, we don’t stop being everything else that we’ve been in our lives. For instance, when I became a mother, I didn’t stop being a wife, a friend, or a sister. I still valued all of those relationships so when my marriage started collapsing it affected me just as much as it would have if I weren’t a mother. As I felt my husband slip further and further away I fought desperately to get him back. I was so focused on fixing my marriage that I forgot to be a mom.
As parents, we try to shield our children from the turmoil of our personal lives and our story is no different. We didn’t want to tell our children anything until we were certain that things weren’t going to work out. While we did this to protect them it ended up hurting them in the end. My children are so perceptive they knew something was going on. They knew it wasn’t normal for their mom to go to bed at 8 o’clock, or to hear her crying through the bathroom door. They knew something was happening, but I wouldn’t tell them what. So instead of having honest communication and navigating through this with my children I shut them out. I was short tempered, absent and careless for far longer than I’d like to admit. That is definitely my biggest failure as a mother.”
Kimberly is a mother of two from California. As she adapts to her constantly evolving teenage girls she’s experienced many failures as a mother. She wanted to share her story so that other moms struggling to connect with teenage girls know that they are not alone in the battle.
“As a mom I want the absolute best for my daughters. The old saying ‘mother knows best’ exists for a reason, a mother knows what is best for her children. This makes it really hard to simply stand by and watch while they ignore me and do their own thing. I know that my girls are their own people and will make their own mistakes, but it still hurts when they disregard my advice altogether. It’s hard not knowing how to get through to them, or how to communicate without it blowing up into a fight. This is where the failure part comes in. I beat myself that I don’t know how to communicate with my girls, since I’m their mother and should know them better than anyone! I should know the best way to handle them. As a result, I feel disrespected, my feelings get hurt and then I let those feelings get in the way of helping them. I need to learn to let them make their own decisions and be there to support them no matter what.
I find it hard not to compare myself to other mothers, especially mothers of girls. I often think to myself “why aren't we more like them?” The worst part about being a mom to girls is the hurtful words that typically come with any disagreement or fight. Being called ‘psycho’ by someone you gave birth to is more painful than I can describe. As much as I hate to admit it, many days have passed without words spoken between my daughters and me as a result of these hurtful words. When this happens I know I have truly failed as a mother.”
Robyn is a mother of two teenagers from North Dakota. After her divorce from her children’s father, she found herself alone on the weekends while her kids were at their dads. To cope with the loneliness, Robyn decided to try online dating to meet somebody new to share her life with. She shares how difficult it was to try to find a companion while being a mom of teenagers.
“I thought that my divorce would be the hardest thing I would ever make my kids go through. What could be worse than seeing the two people you love most in the world split up? It turns out that while my children felt the divorce coming, they weren’t prepared for their mom to start dating afterward.
I didn’t start dating for about six months after my divorce and those months were filled with some really long, lonely nights. I was excited to finally put myself out there and try online dating. My teenage daughter took it the hardest when she found out I was dating. She lashed out and accused me of caring more about finding a boyfriend than being her mother. That hurt a lot. As a mom nothing comes before your children, but does that mean I was just supposed to be unhappy and lonely for them? I don’t know the right answer. What I do know is that trying to find happiness for myself, ended up making my daughter unhappy and that makes me feel like the ultimate failure as a mother.”