Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Oprah & Motherhood

I didn't get to watch the recent Oprah segment on The Truth About Motherhood, but read the summary here. It was interesting, and I think it's so great that we're starting to talk and admit this, how hard motherhood can be. The funny thing is, I'm not sure it's so much that "no one told me.." about how difficult the sleep deprivation would be, or all the diapers, or most of the other challenges of being a parent, but more that it's impossible to truly understand the magnitude of it all until you're in the throes of it. It's sort of like when you break up with someone, and all your friends suddenly come out and tell you they thought he was a loser anyway, and you think "why didn't anyone tell me before?" Except they probably did, and you didn't listen or believe them.

I have a friend who gave birth a few months after I did, and she confessed to me that as she read my blog in the months after D was born, she'd think to herself, "Wow, Marcy's having a tough time..." the thought never crossing her mind that she might struggle as well. Another said that before her baby was born she thought my posts were a little negative... and then she became a mom and started feeling the same things I had. I knew going into this that taking care of an infant was going to be very, very hard. I knew it was going to turn my life completely upside-down. I KNEW these things, yet there was no way to really comprehend what that all meant until I was actually going through it. Zach describes it as, in the big picture looking over the past year as a whole he's not surprised by any of it b/c intellectually he knew it would be that tough, but it's the day-to-day stuff that blows you away b/c you're not quite prepared for it.

But all that aside, knowing that no matter how hard we try there's no way to truly prepare someone for new motherhood, I think it is so very important to have these open discussions about our experiences as parents. I know there are mothers out there who have loved every moment, who bonded instantly with their babies, who never thought anything negative about them, and who think that us talking about the hard parts of being a mom is nothing but hurtful and negative and that we're ignoring the positive aspects of motherhood. The thing is, we're all aware of the good things about being a mom and a parent. It's the reason we didn't dump our kid in the dumpster after they cried for 6 hours straight. We know we are blessed, that our children are amazing, wonderful gifts, and just how lucky we are to get to be their parents. But being a parent is also draining, exhausting, and many times extremely isolating, and I cannot tell you how many times hearing, "I've been there, too!" from other moms has helped me feel ok when I otherwise felt hopeless. To those moms who have it so easy, I salute you and wish I were one of you. I'm not. We mothers can provide such an incredible support network for each other, but we can only do so if we're allowed to talk about the parts that suck without the fear of being judged.


  1. this is such a lovely lovely perfect post. i think the same has to be said for, and include, pregnancy as well. and thank you for making me feel so sane and normal when i was first getting into it, and not feeling so.

  2. Amen! Great post! I caught a little of the Oprah episode and what I saw was great. I'm going to try to fine it online so I can watch the entire thing. Once again, your honesty is AMAZING and so appreciated! I do believe that you are to me what Dooce is to you!! When do I get to go to your readings and book signings? : )

  3. This of course is all great info. My mom always said the time just goes by so fast that you have to enjoy it. I think of it more like the hard times we all experience and we look at the highs and not so much of the lows of it all... Of course it's great to hear about it from someone who has experience.. And I just love reading your posts too! :)

  4. I think the timing of this is really interesting, when there's been a lot of online talk about breastfeeding and its benefits/challenges, etc. I remember when Finn was about a month old, some friends were coming to visit, I wanted to make cookies and it took me 3 DAYS to make one batch of cookies! (And I'm a professional baker!)

  5. We tend to look at things in such a black-and-white way that we forget pretty much everything is a dingy gray, really.

    Motherhood is great (er... must be, since I can't speak from experience); it IS a good thing, and it DOES make you happy, but it's like we're afraid to admit that there MIGHT be a less-than-pleasant aspect to it, because then it will mean that it is NOT great. No! It just means that, like everything else in life, there are good parts and bad parts.

    One of the points that was brought up in One in 3 (the play about abortion) was that women feel that they can't say they regret the choice of terminating a pregnancy. Any other choice you make you can regret, but women are not allowed to regret having an abortion. (And the truth is many women regret having the baby, but they are not allowed to say that, either.)

    But, also, women are not allowed to be sad about having had an abortion -- it's like saying you are sad "admits" that abortion is "bad." Kind of like if you admit that motherhood is hard, you're saying that you don't love your child.

    Slowly, slowly we're changing this black-and-white mentality... and starting to realize that everything is murky gray, and that's fine.

  6. great post! i missed oprah but heard dooce was on and figured you saw it. women need to be honest and stick together.I have shared my miscarriage with many in the hopes it will help and I am also honest about my feeling about motherhood- the good, the bad and the ugly!



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