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November 16, 2006


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It gets better! And easier! My boys are 3 and 5 now, and the only thing that really makes me crazy about them is the way they squabble all the time. But I can shower, leave the house, blog, drink my coffee, etcetera, all things that are really difficult to figure out how to do when they're really little (especially if you have two who are really little).

I love my kids more than anything in the world and I'm a good mom... in spite of the horrible thoughts, fantasies and so on I've had sometimes when things were very difficult. We all have bad moments and some of us even have bad long-periods-of-time. And that's okay. This too shall pass.

It does better as the baby grows, but it's never perfect. It's always hard. It just sort of starts to feel like it's worth it. For me that was when my son turned 14 or 15 months and was old enough to comprehend how amazing his mother is.
The worst part of new motherhood for me was losing my husband. He sort of floated off and made himself inaccessible. Or maybe I became inaccessible. I don't know. It was hard not to resent him for the injustice of how freaking hard motherhood was and how much easier it seemed for him to be the dad.
My son is almost 19 months old now and a lot less dependent on me. He is so much easier to care for and he is so much more fun. He shows affection now and, like I said, that was the turning the point as far as being a mother goes. That was when it seemed like I was doing it all for a reason. He loved me back and saw me as totally the most amazing person in his life. And you know what, I am! My son recognizing this helped me realize that my efforts, sleepless nights, many episiotomy stiches were not in vain.
It also helped that my husband lives on his own during the week because his job and graduate school classes are far away. I also work during the week. I earn about as much as hubs does and am the main parent. I kick ass. And I am finally learning to give myself credit for it.

My baby, unlike everyone else's perfect baby, never bothered to read Dr. Sears. He didn't know he was attached and therefore should be happy. Instead he cried all the time no matter what. We couldn't have been more attached if I'd swallowed him.

I didn't disappear, I went extinct. I hadn't planned to be a mom and it wasn't expected. So I had no idea what to expect except that I'd expected at least some help but basically as long as my job was done and done well, I had no support. The longer you go without time for you-the longer your recover will be. (the "you" being a general one of course.)

I think for me my identity as a mother was discovered when I remembered who I was as a wife and a partner and started treating myself as an equal in that realtionship. Suddenly I felt like a mama. I'd been a mama all along of course, but I felt like now that I'd re established that my son could see me as part of his world, not his entire world.

We started with once a week- I left on a Saturday and there was no set time to return (that no time to return is critical for me, means the partner has to cope and knowhow to do everything I do) and no cell phone unless there was a medical emergency. That helped a lot. I didn't ask for this. You can do this even if they're not on solids. Just come back, nurse and leave.
(he always screamed when I left, always.)

I didn't ask for this time. I stated. After all, if I were bleeding to death, I wouldn't say, "Is it okay if we call the hospital?"

So I said, "This is what we need to do and we're doing it." I think he was pretty relieved when I took the lead.

I found my identity one day when I realized that I could do it all- I could do it all without the help of my husband. And if I divorced, well, then I'd have two weekends off a month (in theory) and that would be A LOT more personal time than I currently had.

Hence the one day a week- it adds up to two weekends a month and it is fair.

It is different for everyone- really hope you find some relief and comfort. What you do on a daily basis is impossible...every mother knows it is impossible and yet somehow we manage to do it.

I wish you all the best.

Parenthood gets better. Then worse. Then better again. And it is normal to feel discouraged. You just have to keep slogging away, and then something wonderful happens and makes it all worthwhile...

Everything that all of you have said is so true. It does get better in some ways when they don't need you so desperately every second (because they won't take a bottle, or a pacifier, or anything!), but then other things do get harder.

As much as I have genuinely loved being a mom from the beginning, more than I expected that I could in that newborn/infant phase, now that she's a toddler I've really been feeling more strongly the need to re-establish my own identity. I mean, I don't want to go back to work right now, given that I'm hoping to get pregnant again and we're going to be moving in less than a year. And, even if I did, since I basically decided to "jump ship," as my husband puts it, from my career path, I don't even know what I would do. Even without all of that, I still wouldn't want to go back to work at this point in my daughter's life, but I'm still struggling to find something, some way to help define that post-motherhood-yet-still-somehow-the-same-person identity. I've gotten better at taking time for myself (lunch with one of my BF's every month or two, reading an occasional non-parenting book or magazine, actually getting a babysitter so that I can get my haircut), and my regular playdates with mom/daughter friend combos save my day-to-day sanity.

But, I need something more to try to salvage what is left of my supposed intelligence and creativity. Something that lets me and my husband, who I know still sometimes thinks, "what the hell happened to my ivy-league, capable, ambitious wife?", know that even though I am different, I'm still me in here somewhere? And how the hell do I do that when I can't even manage to keep my house from turning into tornado central and stop myself from obsessing about what my daughter needs? All I know is that reading about/listening to other moms helps, and hopefully I'll figure something out soon.

Another perspective: INSIST your husband does his share-- and LET him. It doesn't matter if he doesn't do everything the way you do it. Just let him take over and LEAVE THE HOUSE for awhile. Give him and the baby a chance to spend time together. If they do, believe me, he'll get better at it. You have to give him a chance.

I know a lot of mothers who complain that their husbands never help. But when their husbands do try to help, they roll their eyes, sigh, and say, "forget it, I'll do it myself."

If you have the need to control all things parenting-oriented, you'll never get a break. If you want a break, you have to be willing to let someone else take over, without your input... even your husband.

I had to force my wife out of the house at first. Now, she's out more than me. But I know it's worth it. We all need some "me" time or we will all go insane.

My take - not so pretty...

It gets...different. Easier in some ways, harder in others. And it's constantly changing.

But as you gain experience, you gain confidence. So even though the challenges never end, you are better prepared to handle them.

Before having my son I worked in child care for over 10 years. I wish everyone could do this before they decide to have their own, and then I wish I hadn't. I am SO much more relaxed than all of the other moms I know. Nothing has been a surprise, I've done it, see it or heard about it all. I'm not dependant on pediatricians or books or experts to help me navigate my sons ins and outs. I know what I'm doing, why I'm doing it and what to expect next. I've cared for litterally 100's of children 10 hours a day 40+ hours a week and haven't killed one yet. Seriously, I know they try so hard to scare you, as if your baby is some ticking time bomb just waiting for you to turn your back so she can die. If you do the math, and I will for you...I've served over 5,000 meals (not counting snacks)and not one child has EVER choked on anything, EVER! So, relax, enjoy your baby, enjoy yourself. Be glad you don't know everything I do, it makes it all extremely boring. I love my son, but if I have to play cars one more time in my life I will hang myself from the easel with pop beads.

Still difficult with kids 13 and 10...just in different ways. But there will come a day when your child will actually be able to appreciate a movie YOU want to see. I can actually bring my 13 YO daughter to Starbucks with me in the morning to meet my friends and she can be lovely company. On the same day she can stomp down the hall and slam her door screaming "I hate you." So it's up and down, but the first year it's just so damn exhausting...you can't think straight!!!! It will pass...it's always OK to feel the way you feel. If you have never read Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott, read it. She says all the stuff that most Moms think about motherhood but are afraid to say because they think people will think they are a BAD MOTHER. My friends and I can now joke about who did the worst BAD MOTHER thing this week. Most of us are NOT perfect...the ones who think they are are just annoyingly loud about it. The rest of us suffer in silence!

My son is 4 and my daughter is 1, I am just now starting to join the world again. Tomorrow I go out with the girls, I think for the 2nd time in 4 years, saturday I have a date with my husband, probably about the 9th time in 4 years, don't do it much. I think the getting away from it is so key but so hard. I could cry just reading all your comments, being a mom is the hardest thing I've ever done but also the most rewarding. Hang in there and schedule in time for yourself to breathe.

Katie~It's hard! It's so mind numbingly difficult at times, it's a wonder that the human race continues to procreate! It does get better over time. You will find who you are as a mom, and as a separate entity from your child. But it's so okay to sit down and grumble while you eat your shit sandwich. You don't have to pretend it's wonderful when it isn't. The good stuff comes along when you least expect it, and almost makes up for the crap. (((hugs)))

Katie - it's okay. And better than that? It's normal. And better than THAT? It shows you HAVEN'T LOST YOURSELF and that you REMEMBER WHAT IT IS LIKE TO SLEEP, HAVE FUN, HAVE WINE, HAVE SEX AND WEAR SKINNY PANTS.

You're right on target, girl. Hang tight.

(My "I'm A Real Mom!" Moment came when my firstborn was a few months old and I took him out to the mall for pictures and showing off and some germy ass kid tried to touch him in his stroller. I will be paying for that kid's therapy for a long time.)

Kimba ~ I'm with you on that... but the truth is - it's got to be better because we know now. I mean, knowledge, in a way, is power.

We know it might suck, but that it passes quickly -- and sure the challenges arrive, but this time -I know that there's teething and napping and it's painful but it passes.


Thank god.

And truly, the challenges are always there - as jubyred stated -they just change.

Parenting is hard work.

Why do people do this again?

great post! It gets better. Personally, I think that I sort of re-invented myself as a combo of the old me and the mommy me. My boys are 3 and 15 months and lately, I have even started listening to adult music again. Huge step!! I have even read a few novels that have nothing to do with parenting. You really have to put forth an effort at doing a few things just for yourself, even if it's just putting the kids down early occasionally to watch your favorite tv show in peace.

Yes, it gets better. It NEVER gets easy, but it changes and ebbs and flows like all our relationships.

I always try to remind myself when I'm sititng here blogging, that i am NOT walking aorund a room holding a screaming infant at 2 am begging her to close her eyes and STFU (but you know, in anice, maternal way.) I am NOT waking 12 times a night with leaky boobs and a snoring husband whom I temporarily hate to find my way in the dark to the nursery. And I am NOT watching Barney.

So yes, some things do get better.

What I am doing is wondering when I should tell my kids about talkign to strangers. If I should have a conference with my son's teacher about his worksheets at school being too easy. I'm remembering to tell my daughter she's smart as I dress her for school instead of telling her she looks so cute.

The challenges change, but, as my mother tells me 35 years later, you never stop feeling "IT," the guilt, the ties, the responsibility, the yearning, the joy, the resentment...that's just part of being a Mommy.

Reading everyone's comments literally terrifies me! I have a 12 year old daughter...and just as life has gotten easier, teenage hormones kick in. Add to it I'm currently 25 weeks pregnant...starting all over again. Reading these makes me think I'm insane! The first time it took me about 2 years to demand "ME" time and find activities that helped me be me again. Now I'm afraid of losing ME all over again. Ugh...maybe I shouldn't have read today. *sigh*

..."if the baby cries, you will still go to her. You will still do what she needs you to do, even if everything else in you is screaming -- but ME! I'm so tired! Won't someone put ME ME ME to bed and bring me something nice to drink!"

I'm so feeling like this today!!! As a single parent...a sick single parent right now...I thought that very thing this morning.

I didn't every want to be a mom, and was so thrilled at how easy the beginning months were for me. Noah was such a content baby. Now, my son is mobile and teething and possible sick too. I'm seriously struggling with the lack of me time I get now that he needs almost constant supervision. And I feel selfish for wanting more me time!

Hopefully the time comes soon when I separate my mom self from my old self.

So many have said it so well before me...it does get better, easier yet harder in different ways. We relocated 1000 miles from family and friends literally 1 month before I had our first baby. I was trapped in a new city, with no family, no friends, a new baby, and a husband who only took the day of his son's birth off of work (it was a national holiday and his office was closed...how considerate am I?). I still distinctly remember one night when our son was about a week old when I couldn't get him to stop his screaming crying. My husband turned to me and said "Can you do something about this crying? I cannot go to work again tomorrow all tired out." He's lucky he doesn't sing like a girl! It took me a long time to feel like I was my own person, separate from my son. I managed to make some new like-minded friends and that truly made a world of difference to me. We'd meet once a week for our kids to play together and spend 30 minutes bitching about our lives and it just felt so good to know that I wasn't the only one who felt abandoned, lost, hopeless. Now my son is 4 and I find it hard to fathom how much I love him and am surprised to find how much I love being his mom...something I NEVER thought would happen!

That was supposed to be "Lather" not "Later", btw.

Although, there are those days when you feel like saying "Later. I'm outta here."

The truth about motherhood as I see it so far... It's hard. Damn hard. Then it gets easier and you coast for a bit and then it gets harder again, but a different kind of hard, and easier again. Later, Rinse, Repeat.

Oh! Then they learn how to hug and kiss you. That tends to make things all better.

My 6 week old is very needy and my husband started graduate school classes in August(that was a brillant idea by 2 people who had never been parents before and thought it would be all rainbows and sunshine), which means he spends most nights taking class/studying after working 50+ hours a week. So that leave me to deal with all the things the baby throws at me mostly on my own or least thats how it feels. If nothing else, the realization that other moms felt or feel the same way seems to help me. I guess I look at being a mom as becoming a part of some mafia-like club. Other moms will always have your back and can always relate to the things you are going through.

This is so true. We lose ourselves when we give birth. I don't think "me" came back until Dawson was just over a year old. Then my husband thought he was fun to play with and started taking care of him more often.

Oh to get drunk and whoop it up on the dance floor once again and not be the "crazy mom who never gets out and needs a better hobby" person that all the younguns laugh at.

Like my pal ggc says, I've had a TOTAL HIPSTERECTOMY.



Thank you. Great post. Great comments. Me teary-eyed.

I sometimes am still shocked when my 3 year old calls me "mom" Sometimes, I am so shocked that I can BE a mom. It is so rough in the beginning...you don't have to "do" it all perfect (I mean really, we all fake it...) and at the end of the day, if they are still breathing, your doing something right!! It does get better...I keep telling myself this as in 4 weeks, I will be there again myself!

I have 2 boys, and yes, it is NOT all peaches and cream. I constantly struggle with my identity and want the "old Kate" back so that I can dabble in my photography hobby again, travel, get drunk, etc. And my husband and I get along so much better when we have a night out without the kids. But, I have to say, becoming a mother has matured me in so many ways, helped me to understand the meanings of why I am here and on this earth (I know, I bet you didn't think I was going to get all philosophical on ya!), and I constantly try to remember the fact that one day they will be grown ups and this craziness will be over. And I can guarantee you I will miss it, as contradictory as that sounds. So I actually try not to let it get me down anymore like it used to in the beginning because time is so fleeting.

I can't believe I'm saying this -- but I am.

It does get better.

Truly... It does. And you know, I knew it would... I knew it would be easier for me when she was older, but now I can truly say that it's true.

But now, I've got to start all over again.

Oh man...

I'm a mother of four, and it was much harder when I was younger than it was with the last two. My last one though? I was 38 when I had her and she was the most difficult baby. I breast fed, too, and she would only NOT cry if a nipple was in her mouth. No pacifier, no bottle, no sock (for you Kristen). I thought I would go insane. I couldn't clean, cook, take a shower, ANYTHING, because she would scream. My (ex) husband was in Iraq when she was born and didn't meet her until she was three months old. There was no "me", it was all "HER" and she let me know it. She slept with me, bathed me. That's all there was. But once she started walking and realized she didn't have to hang on me every minute of the day? Yea, I missed it. I missed being the one she counted on for her every need, but then realized she was now her own, separate person, and I could leave the room without her screaming.

Oh yes, it does get better, but if you are like me, you will miss it while rejoicing in it!

There is nothing we do in our pre-motherhood lives that prepares us for the abnegation of self that early motherhood demands. You're tired, in pain, strung out, unsupported, desperately needy and lonely, and if the baby cries, you will still go to her. You will still do what she needs you to do, even if everything else in you is screaming -- but ME! I'm so tired! Won't someone put ME ME ME to bed and bring me something nice to drink!

It does get better. But it doesn't go back, and that's okay. This is the fire you're walking through and you will emerge from it refined, better and more interesting, loving and capable of love than you were. You are being transformed and that's hard and beautiful. It does get better. It does. At some point you will be able to pull a little away and the baby will be fine. The baby will pull away and you will astonish yourself by pulling back and then letting go a little.

It will never be this hard again, and you are already past some of the worst. And because you have done this, you will know, somewhere in you, that you can do anything. That nothing has ever been so hard and that you have done it.

Sleep will help. Good food. The chance to get away occasionally. But for me, better is partly accepting that this is what things are now. Better is partly in the surrender.

Surrender doesn't mean polyester stretch pants or bad haircuts or listening to Raffi all the time. It means knowing that where you are is where you need to be and that this life is what life is now, not what it has been or what it will be.

And like Karen said, if Mamma ain't happy, no one is. You have the right to take time for you. To demand it screaming if you need to.

Um. I'm going to stop blogging on Kristen's blog now and go drink more coffee. Oooh, yes. Coffee helps a lot.

Oh, it DOES get better. I'd almost forgotten those months of wishing someone would just take this fussy, needy thing away from me for a week so I could get back to "normal." Ha. Most days I couldn't WAIT until my husband came home from work, so that he could take over and I could get a few minutes to myself...in the bathroom or wherever.

And now...those days are (mostly) long gone. I have a happy, healthy 10 month old little girl, and I'm finding ways to get time for myself, and frankly, to reinvent myself a little. Because things are undeniably different--forever--when you have a child. It can be frustrating at times, particularly when you have a husband like mine, who is a little, well, clueless, and a lot wrapped up in himself and his job.

I don't remember when I realized that I had lost touch with myself and a lot of the outside world...maybe the first time I spent an evening with my two unmarried sisters, and marveled at how much time they had spent (and had the freedom to spend!) with hair, makeup and clothes. I think we have to grow into the whole "mom" identity, just as our kids grow.

But it does get better. Hang in there, Katie, and don't be afraid to ask for help when you need a break. Most people (moms especially!) are understanding of the need for time away.

It does get better, but it's up to you to make it better! As mothers we need to remember to put ourselves on the "to do" lists. We need to remember that there are things that we enjoy that do not involve our children and try to do those things whenever possible. I also find it (sadly) comforting that we moms are in the same boat, feeling the same way!

"I was just... well... everything. Everything to her and nothing to me." Boy, that really gets me. My baby's 10 weeks (when did that happen?!), and I think many of us are just taking it day by day or hour by hour and trying to hang in there until things get figured out. Does that make sense? No? Well ... see?!

I'm a motherhood neophyte as my daughter is only just approaching 4 months of age, but it seems all of my blog posts since her birth have been about my conflicting feelings about being a mother.

Things are starting to get better, but I do feel as if there is a massive disservice to new mothers by not telling them the "truth". Common perception is that new motherhood is awash in mutual love and adoration, and if only it was...

Great post! I think my daughter was at least four months old before I believed it could possibly get any better. I had so looked forward to being a mother but like you didn't feel any identity of motherhood at first. I just mechanically fulfilled her needs while desperately wishing I could give her to someone for 24 hours and sleep and recover a bit. I'd wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom for years, but I found myself resenting my husband as he escaped to work every morning. I felt like I'd made a huge mistake, and I would be in hell for the rest of my life. I'd read all these books on attachment parenting and thought that was the best way, but when I finally accepted that it wasn't me, put my daughter in a crib in her own room and started "sleep training", my life got slowly better. By the time she was 10 months old I really felt like a person again.

I felt smothered in the beginning, by her needs and my ineptness. I wanted to sleep and eat a hot meal. Some days I resented being home alone while my husband had private time at work. Can you imagine? I was JEALOUS of my husband's time alone in the car during his short commute!

It gets better, and it is glorious. I still have moments when I want to sit and read, not play ball or make a craft. But it gets DIFFERENT.

You'll be OK. You'll find ways to have time. I got a babysitter twice a week even though I wasn't really working. Try that.

Yes it does get better! Great post Kristen.

For me, the realization came when friends of mine were talking about new bands and I had lost myself in motherhood and didn't know what was new as far as music went. I have since taken that back for myself, and made sure I get time every single day to myself. If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!

I mean, I want to protect "my" image as a good mother.

Oops. Can you edit comments MU?

I mean, I want to protect "my" image as a good mother.

Oops. Can you edit comments MU?

I have a 6 year old and a 16 month old. I still feel guilty for not always being 100 percent grateful that I have healthy, happy children.

There are days (like yesterday) where I feel like there is no one to talk to about how hard I find mothering, and how alone I feel in my frustrations.

I want to protect your image as a "good mother" so I don't talk about it to anyone and then I blow up.

It isn't always peaches and cream.

It's wonderful yes, but sometimes it feels more selfless and hard than wonderful.

I just try to stay focused on the wonderful so I don't get mired in the not.

Oh boy. It DOES get better. I pretty much felt like motherhood sucked for the first few months, particularly the colicky days where my daughter would scream from 5pm - 11pm non-stop. Scream, scream, scream - unable to be comforted. When the screaming stopped, things got a lot better. Now that she's almost 8 months old and mobile, things are a LOT better.

I still haven't found comfort in my identity as "mom", but I'm working on it. And I'm very fortunate that my daughter sleeps through the night, so my evenings are, for the most part, my own.

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