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Becoming a Mom Was the Best Worst Thing I’ve Ever Done

Photograph by Twenty20

I fear modern parents, myself included, are misleading would-be parents about what it’s really like to have kids. It seems you can find plenty of information about how parenting is difficult, stressful, exhausting, and expensive. We are also inundated with images and words extolling the virtues of parenthood and the joy of having children. But it’s rare to hear the truth, which is that parenthood is all of these things—often at the same time.

Parenthood is extremely difficult to describe. It’s nothing like how it's portrayed on sitcoms or social media. It's infinitely messier and more beautiful. Parenthood involves regularly experiencing equal and opposite extremes. It means dwelling in a world rife with hyperbole. It's nothing, if not paradoxical.

Becoming a mother is at once life-changingly permanent and elusively fleeting. You can be completely exasperated by a baby who only wants to be held by you and preemptively nostalgic for the day he doesn’t cling to you with such devotion. You will never again feel like you did before kids, motherhood becomes a huge part of who you are, yet your experience of motherhood is constantly morphing.

You are always worried about your child, but the reason for concern changes rapidly. You always love your child, but the depth and breadth expands over the years in ways that are impossible to describe.

You can be completely over your kids and madly in love with them at the same time. In fact, it’s often because you love them so much that they can push your buttons and drive you to the brink. If you didn’t feel such a deep connection with your child then their horrible mood wouldn’t get to you the way it does.

Motherhood is exhilarating and sobering in equal measure.

Your baby is at once infinitely interesting and exceptionally boring. Their little smiles and coos are endlessly entertaining, but with no other humans to interact with, you can’t help but feel exceptionally lonely. It is such a source of pride and joy when they learn to talk and so tedious to answer their never-ending questions.

As a mother you feel hugely responsible and positively infantile at the same time. I’ve never felt more grown-up or more childish than when I brought my baby home from the hospital. I remember thinking, “I'm officially a grown-up and I need my mommy.”

Motherhood is exhilarating and sobering in equal measure.

Parenthood is spending each day feeling both brave and terrified. It is knowing in your gut that you would step in front of a bus for your child and praying that you never have to. There is nothing you wouldn’t do to ensure the health and happiness of your kids, but you are constantly scared that it won’t be enough.

You feel both powerful and powerless. You are making every major decision for this tiny human and yet your day completely revolves around when they nap. Your influence seems dauntingly mighty and yet you’ve never felt more deeply out of control. You are constantly balancing between taking charge and letting go.

It's difficult to describe how elation, exhaustion, joy, frustration, concern, and devotion can all exist within one experience, often simultaneously. These mixed emotions don’t fit neatly in an Instagram square. Facebook isn’t the forum to air these real-life-sized experiences. If you want to know how I feel about motherhood, it is at once impossible to describe and simply put: becoming a mother is the best worst thing I’ve ever done.

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