Dear Mommy Blogger, Being A “Miserable Mom” Isn’t Trendy — It’s Honest

shutterstock_135499928When I read blogs that talk openly and honestly about motherhood, I’m hooked.  I love the full-portrait of parenting, rather than just the Facebook highlights.  That’s my opinion.  Of course, I say potato, and a mommy blogger on Babycenter says po-tah-toe.  Instead, she wants to know when it became so cool to complain and asks us to snap out of it.

Calling all miserable moms, why so blue?

Every time I hop on a mommy blog, I’m hit with posts bemoaning motherhood. Posts with titles such as “7 Reasons I Hate Play Dates,” or “Being a New Mom Is Far From a Dream Come True” lead me through a series of grumblings by glum mamas.

Side note: does anyone else think she reads Mommyish daily?  I’m pretty sure all of her poking fun post titles have run here.  She goes on to say those feelings are valid, before spending hundreds of words invalidating them (it’s kind of worth the whole read if you are feeling ranty).

While all of these feelings are valid, and as a mom of three kids ages 5 and under, I truly relate to the daily challenges of motherhood. But I can’t help but wonder: Where have all the good times gone?

Off the top of my head, I would give the following answers:

  • Hallmark cards
  • cheesy movies like Definitely, Maybe (most together, creative, patient single dad EVER).
  • the 1950s

Maybe I am really out of touch, but I haven’t seen a whole lot of these posts outside of Mommyish.  And the way she talks about it, she clearly feels there are lots of them that I’m missing out on.  I hope she tweets me some links. Truth be told, I don’t know this woman from any other female riding the subway with a stroller along side me.  But I do know why I write the content I write.

Being a mother is not a wholly miserable endeavor.  But for those of us who dream of having children and babysat for decades, there’s a fantasy that being a mother will come so easily and naturally without ever having to read a book, or call a nursing hotline or page your pediatrician.  So when reality screws with those expectations, it can be a shock to the system.  What do you mean babies don’t actually sleep like babies?  Why didn’t anyone tell me that a day when I can shower without someone else watching the baby will feel like my biggest success?

Talking about the amazing parts of motherhood, for me, is like writing a story about eating an ice cream cone.  It is a given that ice cream is delicious and wonderful and blissful.  No one has ever eaten ice cream and said, “this is terrible!” “Why didn’t anyone tell me it was so cold?”  No, eating ice cream is purely and wholly amazing.  Just like the first time you witness your child’s first steps or he tells you he loves you or she makes you wholeheartedly laugh with her own thoughts and words.  I don’t need to talk about those things because they are universal.

Until recently, that was all people ever talked about — newborn smell and school picture days, but nothing in between.  Of course the problem with talking about the “bad” things is those negative aspects of parenthood aren’t universal.  So when I spill my guts about my boob loss, someone may not get it at all.  They may have bigger boobs after their kids.  Or when Drew Barrymore talks about facial hair, I can’t say I had any too.  But I am ALL for these discussions.  Even if I don’t relate personally, I love to hear them.  I love to hear people speak honestly and openly about parenthood.  Unlike the Babycenter post I am not going to call on you to give me the pure joy of parenting.  Give me the ugly, the bad, and the worst.  We’ll share a glass of wine, go home and forget it all.  Because finding you’re not alone in the rough parts, makes the good ones so much sweeter.

(photo: Aquir/Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Carinn Jade, on twitter.
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    • Bethany Ramos

      Carinn, we must have the same brain because I was just reading this post and thinking, “So…. you hate Mommyish?” Well-put from your perspective, and I agree. When I talk with friends, I do like to realistically say that parenting isn’t that bad because I enjoy it. BUT you have to have a place to vent with real people (online or off). I was so liberated when I discovered Mommyish and other similar places that said it’s okay to not be blissed out every damn second. This was refreshing for me because I’m a recovering perfectionist myself.

      • Carinn Jade

        Oh yes, sounds like we do have the same brain — recovering perfectionist here too! It’s too exhausting to try to be perfect as a parent. Mostly it just doesn’t exist. And yes, I do love being a mom and I like being home with my kids, but to act like it’s all roses feels hollow to me.

    • Momofthree

      Amen!!! I absolutely LOVE hearing my daughter call my name when she wakes up or makes me laugh or shows me something new she learned HOWEVER when she’s totally not having naptime and I need it…I’m not feeling all that love! Lol! I wouldn’t trade it for the world and it feels good to know other moms are having similar struggles that I have also. Keep up the awesome work Mommyish!!

      • Carinn Jade

        Exactly — it’s more about a complete picture than it is about “being glum.”

    • C.J.

      I think that discussing the hard parts of parenting is healthy. Everyone has fears and has times of feeling uncertain about parenting. It is good to know others have the same feelings. Mommyish wasn’t around when my kids were small but when I read some of the articles I can clearly remember those situations. It would have helped to know other people were in the same situation. I’m not a big fan of baby books. Not all babies are going to fit in to the same parameters. On this blog you are very likely to find someone who can relate. I’m almost at the teenage years, Lord help me. Somebody needs to write about that so we can have “miserable mom’s” of teenagers too!

      • Carinn Jade

        I can’t even imagine the challenges that await as parents of teenagers! If my kids are anything like I was as a teen, I am going to be flat out exhausted…

      • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

        oh yeah….. trust me

      • C.J.

        My oldest is 11 and I’m getting a preview to the teenage years. She isn’t the one that scares me though. I’m dreading when the younger quiet one is a teenager.

    • mommabeer

      Gotta love the commenter who says “if you don’t like being a mom, just go back to work” as if that’s an option for everyone. And as if working moms don’t have to deal with tantrums and play dates and sleep deprivation.
      I’m pretty sure we all express our love of being a mom and love for our children daily. But having a space to share the not so good times is so worthwhile. I hate how the author of the BC post chalks it up to being a “trend.” Like if I have complaints about being a mom, I’m just trying to get attention or following what I read on mommyish, I don’t know, I guess to get attention or look cool? Sounds like more mommy shaming to me.

    • G.E. Phillips

      For me, this entire sentiment is wrapped up in the word “Mommy.” Oh, the years I dreamed of being called “Mommy” by someone!! And then, when Face was born, the long months I waited until he could say my name, until I had that verbal validation that I was, in fact, someone’s MOMMY….
      And now he’s almost 4 and on many, many days, it’s like, I swear to God, if I hear the word “Mommy!” one more time, I’m gonna lose my fucking mind.
      So, yeah, I knew being called Mommy would be wonderful, but I didn’t know it would also be cringe-inducing sometimes. And THAT’S the kind of stuff that you want to talk to other parents about.
      Hollar if you feel me.

      • Janok Place

        Holler!

      • Véronique Houde

        Right now, my daughter is in a phase where she likes to call me Papi… And whenever my mom hears her say it, she intercedes saying “you can’t let her call you that!” So i’m stuck between dying of laughter and trying to correct her and say that my name is Mommy, not Papi. ;)

      • G.E. Phillips

        That’s hilarious!

      • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

        I think that sentiment can be summed it up here:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNkp4QF3we8

      • G.E. Phillips

        Yes, that right there.

    • KB

      She sounds like the kind of sanctimommy who waits with bated breath to insert her next humblebrag into the conversation.

      Sentiments like “I’m not afraid to share that I enjoy having a newborn” and “I’ll also cop to having laughed off the terrible two’s” have me seriously gagging over here. Well bully for you, Mom-of-the-Year! The challenges of caring for newborn and navigating through toddlerhood couldn’t trump your mothering superpowers! Someone get this woman a trophy STAT!

    • http://lawleramericanadventure.wordpress.com/ Nicole

      I’m nearly 15 weeks pregnant and I’ve experienced the opposite; people almost gleefully tell me all the shit that’s awaiting me and how god awful being a parent is. I’ve had one person tell me that her kid is great and has made her life awesome-er, and if I didn’t have 4 excellent nieces and nephews, I’d probably drink myself into a hole, wondering what the ever loving fuck I’d got myself into.

      • SusannahJoy

        Reading online, almost everything (except this site) has been about the joys of parenthood and how it’s all rainbows and puppy dogs. But yeah, all our friends and family keep telling us how much worse it gets. I say I hated the newborn phase-’ Just wait until he’s a few months older and not sleeping as much, you’ll miss the newborn!” I say I can’t wait until he’s mobile “Oh man, that’s when it really starts to suck!” My husband was talking about what we’ll do when he’s in school and that immediately turned into “Teenagers are the WORST!” I swear all the people we know hate being parents.

      • EX

        My absolute pet peeve is when people say things like “enjoy it now, it won’t last. Soon they turn into teenagers who won’t speak to you” or some such shit. That drives me nuts. And it always seems to be strangers who say that.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Yeah, that’s the balance I’m hoping for. It’s great to vent and be honest, but I’ve never liked when people are like, “Kiss your life goodbye after you have kids, yuk yuk.” Or, “Marriage is the ole ball and chain.” Yes, you don’t love every minute at all, but marriage and kids are still pretty great overall.

      • Carinn Jade

        Ok, this is still competive parenting and it’s not cool. I never dip in the “I have it worse than you pool.” Being real and honest is about telling your own stories, not comparing others in an effort to one-up.

      • http://lawleramericanadventure.wordpress.com/ Nicole

        Ugggggh, the one upping drives me nuts. I try and stay away from sites and message boards (except this one, I really enjoy reading everything here!) because it’s just painful to read.

      • EX

        I had the opposite experience – before I got pregnant and while I was pregnant it seemed like everyone I knew would just talk about how wonderful it was to have kids and then after my baby came and I complained to the same people about (for example) the fact that I could not put her down awake or asleep without her screaming for the first 3 months they would suddenly share all these horror stories about the newborn stage and I was like, “what? Now you tell me?”

      • http://lawleramericanadventure.wordpress.com/ Nicole

        I wouldn’t mind so much, it’s just unrelenting. I really like this site and its readers/commentators as it feels like I’m getting more balanced info rather than the “Well! If you’re having a hard time now, JUST WAIT until you get to blah blah stage, lololololol. The joys of parenthood!”
        Vom.

      • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

        I actually went out of my way NOT to do that to my best friend when she had her first child last year. I figured she would get enough doom and gloom from everyone else.

        It’s kind of funny actually. I think people are way more likely to talk about the negative stuff in person (“Just wait until the terrible twos!”) and less likely online. A lot of “mommy blogs” (I hate that phrase) seem to focus more on how wonderful it all it.

      • ChillMama

        People did the exact same to me! So annoying. I especially loved people (with or without kids of their own) smirking and telling me that if I was tired now, just WAIT until the baby arrived. Like there was some kind of gleeful perverse pleasure they were taking.
        In my case the first few newborn “what the hell did I get into” weeks were an adjustment, but things just keep getting better and better. And at least half the awful things “they” told me would happen just never did.

    • CrazyFor Kate

      I’m not a mom, but frankly, life in general is ruined by people who claim it’s all roses. I’m teaching abroad right now, and there are zillions of blog posts and forum threads who are all “Oh, this is the best! You get to travel and have tons of fun and meet a new culture! Best year of my life! La la la la la!” I’m pretty unhappy right now – super lonely even though I try to make friends, exploited by my employer, overworked and exhausted – and it’s really difficult to try to justify because I feel so guilty at not having the BEST TIME. Sigh. Sorry for the rant, but I do agree with your sentiment that honesty is better. And in the end, much more useful.

      • Carinn Jade

        Thank you!!! What a great point! It’s not just about motherhood. Things are gray in all aspects of life. Acknowledging the tough parts doesn’t invalidate the good parts. I’m sorry you’re lonely :( and I really hope it gets better.

      • Véronique Houde

        Hey Kate, all of my friends and I have travelled over the course of our lives. One thing that we’ve all found is that going abroad will tear you down. It will expose all of your insecurities and flaws and there is a part of you that will feel stripped down bare. But remember that once you’re torn down, you will then rebuild yourself better than ever. Going abroad is both awesome and terrifying – energy-inducing and exhausting. Once you come home, you might feel even worse – all of my friends and I felt hugely depressed when we came home. Mostly because we had learned new ways of living that our friends and family could not understand, and because we had changed over the course of our travels, but our friends and family haven’t followed the same course in life.

        I think you’re doing the most awesome thing you could be doing, and don’t give up!! When it’s all said and done, you will always remember this time of your life super fondly. You’ll appreciate how it will have made you grow. :)

      • Bethany Ramos

        Couldn’t agree more.

    • NicknamesAreDull

      I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a mom. I spent most of my time assuming I would have a professional career, and I’d travel the world. I remember telling my mom I would rather have my toe nails pulled out than have kids.

      When I realized that I wanted a child, I was scared because I had only heard from friends who loved being a mom. They *loved* how their life had changed. I didn’t think I could love that. I knew I could love a baby, and I knew I wanted to take care of them until they were independent, but I didn’t think I could love that my old routine of coffee and the news would be replaced by coffee and Sesame Street. Everyone around me seemed so in love with parenting that they didn’t miss their old habits. No one seemed to miss adult conversation without mentioning their kids.

      When I found people who were honest, it made me feel better. I didn’t feel like I was going to be a total failure. I can still be a good mom, even if I don’t think every second of motherhood is the greatest second of my life.

      My daughter was an easy baby. She didn’t cry that much, she didn’t have allergies, she slept through the night very early. She was an easy toddler, and she’s a fairly easy going child. Even when we learned that she had some food sensitivities, she was very easygoing with diet changes and doctor’s appointments. And motherhood is still hard, and it still sucks sometimes. I still have days where I miss my old life.

      I think the people who make motherhood seem like a bucket of rainbows doused in unicorn pee sprinkled with fairy dust are doing an injustice to other people.

      • ChillMama

        Totally! I have an “easy” child too, which sometimes makes me feel like crap for thinking motherhood is hard.

      • Kate

        Me, too! Thanks for saying this!

    • SusannahJoy

      The first time I took a shower when it was just me and the baby I was so excited I texted my mom and my sister to tell them about that wonderful accomplishment. It was pretty glorious.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Methinks the Babycenter lady doth protest too much. She definitely hate-reads us.

    • AlexMMR

      I’m a babycenter regular and I hate rainbow posts.

      Someone on my blog asked why I might be considering a third when it seems all I enjoy about parenting is when my twins are taking a nap or when I have a day to myself. I replied that the purpose of my blog is to be the negativity lightening rod so that others can quietly think “oh thank the flying spaghetti monster it’s not just me!”. I paint the truest picture I can, with every thought and action that I’m ashamed of or feel weird about, because someone, SOMEONE is up at 3am googling something that they find very upsetting and just praying to find that they aren’t the most horrible person in the world.

      I’ll be that horrible person, I’ll admit those horrible things, all so the 3am googler doesn’t have to.

      • ChillMama

        That’s actually pretty sweet of you.

      • KB

        LOLing @ flying spaghetti monster. Someone told me about Pastafarianism a couple of years ago — shit is hilarious.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Me too!!! They have such a funny blog (or blogs) about it. Ramen.

    • Suburban Mommy

      Mommyish makes me feel better. Period. I personally had a pretty rotten parenting moment this morning. Getting out of the house on time today was a fail. I was an HOUR late to work because my darling daughter decided that today would be the day to whine at me about EVERYTHING. Couple that with my raging case of morning sickness and first trimester pregnancy hormones, I snapped. I yelled at my toddler so loudly that I actually made her cry. And then I cried, which helped nothing except to make me feel like a total asshole who is failing at almost everything right now. My point in telling this story, though, is simply this: Reading sites like Mommyish reminds me that I’m human and that there are others out there who are imperfect, just like me. The bitches on BabyCenter have their helpful moments, but I like it here better.

    • SA

      I am so glad that mothers can now discuss parenthood the good, the bad, and the ugly. Although the author of the BC piece was a little too ‘sunshine & rainbows’ about it, I do get some of her sentiment. The never-ending barrage of ‘poor-me’ mom blogging gets on my nerves. I do like it here because the pieces are more sarcastic and edgier and not just whiny and complain-y like the majority of the other ones out there. Of course the ‘poor-me’ posts don’t bother me more than the ‘you are Satan if you don’t sacrifice your every want and desire for your children’. I just want to be able to cry into my glass (FINE, bottle) of wine at the end of every day, but also be able to be really excited about spending my Saturday hand-crafting party favors and dancing to ultra-cheesy kids music too. Being a mom is horribly awesome.

    • whiteroses

      I adore being a mom, and my son is amazing. Couldn’t love him more.

      Having said that, we both have days when we don’t like each other that much. Whether he’s whiny and clingy or I’m at the end of my rope due to stuff that isn’t his fault, we have good days and not so good days. And it doesn’t help that in every corner of the Internet, and from people I know, there’s a lot of “you should do this and he’d be happier/you’d be a better mom” and judging me for my choices. I have days when I get so overwhelmed with life, all I can do is get us both out of bed, get his diapers changed, and get him fed. Those days suck. They suck bad. Because all the people that are judging me, anonymous or not, aren’t exactly beating down my door to change his diapers or take care of him when he’s sick.

      But he loves to be read to. And he loves me. And I love him. Knowing that is what gets me through sometimes.