I had a hard day with my boys a few weeks ago.
Truthfully, we had a series of hard weeks. I wrote about it, because, well, that’s what writers do.
The article went crazy. It was shared thousands of times across various forms of social media and I received countless messages from other parents who felt like I had really expressed their struggles.
Then there were the others.
Out of the woodwork emerged people who were outraged I would dare write such things.
“Well, maybe you shouldn’t have had children!”
“I would love to be at home more. Count your blessings.”
“Be quiet! Mothers have done this for years!”
I had to go back and re-read my article, to make sure someone hadn’t accidentally added to the piece, unbeknownst to me, “I hate my children, I hate being a mom, and my life is so much harder than yours.” Turns out, nope, that definitely wasn’t in there.
So why all the vitriol?
Why was an article about my hard day, my hard experience, touching such a nerve for so many?
Why is it that moms are the only people who aren’t allowed to complain? The second a mom expresses any struggle, the world is quick to remind her that children are a blessing and she signed up for this.
Newsflash: moms know their children are a blessing. Moms know what they’ve signed up for (well, as much as anyone can really “know” what parenting is like until they’ve actually done it). That doesn’t mean raising children isn’t sometimes difficult. Sharing a struggle doesn’t make a mom ungrateful.
My favorite “style” of comment was this one: “Haha, try working and raising your kids, you have no clue.”
That one really made me chuckle because I’ve been a full-time working mom (and part-time, and work-from-home, and stay-at-home –I’ve tried it all!).
When I had a tough day working, I wouldn’t hesitate to share it.
The responses I got then? Full of empathy.
Everyone acknowledged that work could be stressful, that the job could sometimes be difficult. It was understood.
Not once did anyone ever respond to my difficult day (or week, or month) at work with, “You chose this, be grateful!” or “Let me tell you why I have it so much worse.”
Never did someone retort with, “Whiner!”
I’ve written plenty of pieces about raising children, some funny and some serious, some upbeat and some openly discussing my struggles. I write because I find it helpful to express myself and because other parents have told me they enjoy reading what I have to say.
I write about stay-at-home motherhood because that’s what I’m doing these days. That’s my current story.
I don’t compare my situation to others’ and I don’t dare question who has it harder, because here’s the thing: It’s all hard.
When I was rushing around like crazy, trying to get my kids to and from the sitter and make sure I wasn’t late for work? It was hard.
When I’m rushing around now, trying to serve lunches with a toddler hanging on my feet and another kid hollering, “I need a wiiiiiiiipe!” from the bathroom? It’s hard.
When I had to keep it together and do my job at work, even though I’d barely slept an hour? It was hard.
When I have to lovingly teach and correct all day at home, even though I’ve barely slept an hour? It’s hard.
Everyone claims to understand that parenting is hard, but it’s the type of hard you’re supposed to quietly mumble about to your spouse or your best friend.
The second you say it more clearly, or Heaven forbid, write about it, out come the pitchforks.
“She has plenty of time to write articles.”
“Ugh, I don’t even have kids and I hate this.”
“Stop. Having. Babies.”
One commenter noted, “I’m so tired of seeing articles complaining about how hard parenting is.”
Well, if the comment sections of these articles are any indication, we still need articles like this. We need to keep telling our truth. We need to be honest about our struggles.
Until everyone feels heard.
Until everyone feels seen.
Until people who disagree can simply scroll past without using the opportunity to shame someone whose experience differs from theirs.
Maybe then, as one commenter requested, I will “Stop. Just stop.”
This article originally appeared on the author’s blog, The Wild, Wild West.
I just want to say Thank you… Thank you for sharing your trials and tribulations with us… Thank you for expressing what so many of us are afraid to for these very reasons… Thank you for sharing your kids and life with us .. you don’t have to but you do and you help those of us that are struggling too … with being a mom .. with raising kids in todays crazy world … with teaching them what they need to learn so that they can be strong confidant adults when they grow up! Thank you!
Thank you so much for commenting! I’m so glad to know that you connected with this post and that you find it helpful. I am all about being honest and sometimes, that’s hilarious and cute and fun, and other times, well… other days parenting is rough!
Oh sometimes if I wrote what I feel about my days and kids someone would probably call DSS. Only mine are grown!
Love it, Deidre! Thanks for your honesty–and congrats on making it to the finish-ish line (because obviously a mom’s work is never fully done).
No matter the subject matter, some one will not like it. Just think of all the woman who are happy you write what you write because there may be a Mom out there who is ashamed or feels completely alone on her “bad days” with the kids. I know when I was a stay-at-home Mom, I had many days like that. Don’t let the negative get to you!
You’re so right — you just can’t please everyone, no matter what –and I do hope moms who are having a rough time will feel seen when they read articles like this. Thanks so much for the encouragement!
I think it’s because parenting is the one and only thing that comes from our soul. It’s personal and when people write about their experiences, it forces us to look at our own. And some don’t like what they see. So they become defensive from a primal place within them- their core. And they judge…but most lack that capacity for real insight. The ability to separate themselves from others- and they lash out at the person responsible for making them uncomfortable: the writer
Omg!! This is so true, thank you so much for sharing. Others just don’t get it, so thank you.
When people contemplate becoming a parent, they have NO IDEA what they signed up for. It isn’t all cute baby smiles and Tooth Fairy time. People without kids think they know what’s up-but until you become a parent yourself, take a seat, sister.
We are all human and and have every right to complain, just as other (childless) people have the right to be judgy. There are days when I truly question why I wanted a child, some days I want to hang my head against the wall in frustration, and other days I want to climb on a plane to anywhere but my household and not look back.
However, moms are stubborn as hell and most of us don’t give up or give in easily-so, as I said, my dear childless people, until you have your own, sit down in the back while we show you how it’s done.
It’s been said, mothers are the closest thing to sainthood you can get! Not all can be a mother, but all have a mother and some people have a hard time admitting to themselves how hard moms work and how much mother’s actually sacrifice. Guilt is often the biggest trigger for others negative rhetoric. Guilt comes in all forms, from those who have mistreated thier own mothers, those who failed at mothering themselves, those who work, those who are stay at home moms, those with low self esteem, those who cannot have thier own, those who have been abused, those who are self serving…the list goes on and on because motherhood is not only the best thing to ever happen to us but also the hardest! When we become mothers, we are entrusted by God to love one of His most precious little blessings…. it’s hard, it’s wonderful, it’s done best with prayer….with His help. ??
This is an incredible read! Yes having kids is a blessing (especially for those parents who have tried everything for kids), but it doesn’t make it easy or stress-free (stress-free…..what is that?) I love my little guy but oh my he sure does know how to push buttons! Thank you so much for writing this and making it feel truly ok that we can feel this way. We love our kids and spouses but that doesn’t mean they don’t drive us insane at times!
This is EXACTLY how I feel. I think that no one should ever comment on things like this if you have something discouraging to say, because 1/2 the time it’s just a release for some people, they don’t really care what you have to say.
THANK YOU, thank you, thank you… for put out in word what my heart and mind are saying every time someone undermines me or critizes me for my parenting.