Trying Not to Take Motherhood SO Personally

Of course motherhood is personal. VERY personal. You just did some intimate things to produce a human out of your intimate parts, and your body has gone through some really wild changes and now you have to keep that beautiful squish of a love alive with every mental and physical effort you have in you. And some days that very personal aspect of motherhood is so exhausting and wearing.

When they’re older, they burst into tears at the wrong color cup, the corn on the cob instead of the corn from the microwave, the dinner you made exactly as they asked you to. They fight you to get into the tub — and then to get out of the tub. To get on their pajamas and to brush their teeth and to get into bed, and by the end of the night, you’re looking at their sweet sleeping faces (thank god they finally fell asleep) and wondering what the heck you’re doing wrong? At that point, it’s always so hard to feel like their constant fighting you, exerting their independence, or testing their boundaries — or whatever else child-rearing psycho-babble you want to use — isn’t personally directed at you as a terrible mother and straight-up terrible person generally.

Of course, you aren’t one. But it does get hard to not feel that way after days and days of the same negative reactions from toddlers. Maybe your kids aren’t like this. My oldest was mostly always docile, thankful, willing to do what I needed her to, and considerate of my feelings (minus a few “I Hate You, Mommies” when I wouldn’t let her have ice cream for breakfast). My younger two are not like this at all. Maybe because they are twins, maybe because they are the two youngest of four, but they constantly make me think, “What am I doing wrong here?” when the reality is I probably am doing nothing differently with them than I did with the older two.

But it is hard not to take the “That’s stupid, Mommy. Baths are stupid, Mommy. Vegetables are stupid. I hate swimming lessons. Why do I have to brush my teeth? Teeth are stupid, Mommy,” personally. After all, you’re just trying to keep them healthy, safe, and alive. And they don’t appreciate that. At ALL. Of course they don’t. They’re 4. Or even 12. But still. Sometimes it’s hard to be the adult and not snap back, “Fine, DON’T brush your teeth, see if I care!” But then you remember how much you’re paying for braces, and you gently explain, again, why brushing your teeth is so important.

It’s hard not to take it personally when over and over you clean a room, only to find it trashed again five minutes later. When you plan a fun activity, and they sulk through it. When you get elbowed in the face or kicked in the ribs while trying to sleep because they won’t stay in their own bed. When the birthday gift you so carefully picked out for them winds up shoved in the bathroom cupboard covered with nail polish. When the natural human reaction you want to have has to be overcome with mom superpowers because they are, after all, just small beings you’re trying to turn into normal, functioning adults. So personal, this mothering thing.

Never mind the times when they do tell you they hate you, that they’re running away, that they no longer like ballet (your childhood dream) or American Girl dolls or the book you so loved as a kid. It’s tough to take a step back and remember: This child is their own person. They are wonderful and amazing and beautifully made, and even if they hate me for making them clean their room, I am doing the best I can. I will make them into a decent and kind and loving person.

And one day, when they have all their teeth, they will thank me.

Meg is a working mom of four and an avid community volunteer. She has worked in corporate communications and media relations for more than 18 years, for a Fortune 500 company as well as a non-profit. She took some time off to enjoy life as a stay at home mom after the birth of her first child in 2008. Her sweet, introverted daughter, was excited to welcome her baby brother in 2013, and then boy/girl twins joined the family in 2016. Meg finds being an “office mama” a constant balancing act and never-ending challenge but enjoys the opportunities it offers her for personal growth. A Virginia girl at heart, she loves Florida’s warm weather, the great quality of life Jacksonville offers her family.


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