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No, Motherhood Really Isn't the Hardest Thing in the World

Photograph by Twenty20

I was having lunch with a group of friends last month and the topic of motherhood came up, as it inevitably does when you sit down to a meal at a table of women with children. One my friends sipped her wine and commented passionately across from me: “Being a mom is seriously one of the hardest things in the world.” The other women nodded their heads as one chimed in, “For sure. But I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”

I recently came across a controversial op-ed in the New York Post where the writer describes Beyonce's bump-starring Grammy performance as akin to a "pagan fertility worship ceremony." She wonders why we, as a society have "fetishized" motherhood and declares, “Our cultural imperative to elevate motherhood to both the most important thing in the world and the hardest thing in the world is getting out of control.”

And I couldn't help but agree.

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Yes, motherhood is hands down the best thing to ever have happen to me—and I’m sure most moms would say the same. But is it really the hardest thing in the world? You'd think after six years of infertility treatments and wanting a baby more than anything, I would be in agreement. But I'm also a Registered Nurse who went through many stressful years of nursing school. I also went through the turmoil of my mom’s cancer diagnosis. And if I'm being honest, both were harder than being a mom.

I think the thing that gets lost in our culture today is not that motherhood as a whole is hard, but that there are hard moments throughout the journey.

But too much of one thing is never good for us. We shouldn’t become all-consumed with our kids.

My life with my daughter is a joy. I laugh more when she’s around me, and enjoy seeing her eyes light up as something I tell her makes a connection. When she gets sick, or when she's having a day of constant tantrums, those are hard days. Those are the moments my limits are tested, when I may cry because I don’t know what to do. But then she wakes up the next day and she’s smiling and healthy, I move on with my life.

So no, motherhood shouldn’t be the hardest thing in the world.

But what about motherhood being the most important thing in our lives? Here’s the thing: I understand becoming so wrapped up in being a mom that you forget you're a complex person, not only one who chases a toddler all day but one who also likes snort laughing through "Napoleon Dynamite" and actually makes the recipes you pin on Pinterest.

But too much of one thing is never good for us. We shouldn’t become all-consumed with our kids.

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We need to take time, even if it means leaving the baby with someone else for a night, to rediscover that our identity is more than just Mom.

In a world that continues to pressure women to have it all, I’m concerned that more and more moms feel the need to place motherhood on this pedestal that our society deems is necessary in order for us to be good moms. To think that sacrificing ourselves on the "hard" altar of motherhood is the only option.

Being a mother should make our lives richer, not replace it altogether.

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