Yesterday, I spoke with a new mom who’s having a rough time. She’s at home with her 7-month-old, breastfeeding, doing all the childcare and night parenting, and feeling guilt-ridden for not being very happy. Naturally, she loves her son, she’s grateful for the opportunity to be with him, but she feels trapped, lonely, and like every other mom is having more fun. Sometimes it’s so bad she gets into the shower at the end of the day and just cries. She’s crippled by sleep deprivation, her husband works 12 hours a day, and doesn’t get how awful she feels. He gets to go to work, which is by far the easier job.
A few years ago, when my kids were 2 and 4, I ran into an old friend who I hadn’t seen in 10 years. He was divorced with no kids and was so genuinely excited to hear all about my family. “Wow, you’re a mom,” he said. “That’s amazing! What’s it like?”
My response was a shock, like a bucket of ice water thrown at my face. “I don’t like it at all,” I said, with far too much honesty.
His face fell. His jaw dropped. And I instantly knew I had made a terrible mistake. Moms aren’t allowed to feel this way, certainly not allowed to say it out loud.
I began dog-paddling backward. “Of course, I love my kids, and I wouldn’t change a thing, but…Diapers? Mopping up vomit? Bleeding nipples and breast pumps? Being awakened repeatedly through the night and at 5-6 am daily for four consecutive years?”
No, the truth is that I like nothing about the actual job, yet I love my kids more than anything else in the world. So, I do it anyway, even if I hate it sometimes.
If you’ve ever felt this way…read on to learn more about why you feel the way you do – and how to change it.
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How Life Changes After A Baby
Having a baby is one of the biggest changes a person can face. And, in 99.9 percent of cases, it’s the woman’s life that changes the most. If you’re able to be a stay-at-home mom, your life will quickly become all about diapers, spit-up, and crying – and we’re not just talking about the baby’s regular tears.
The situation becomes even more dire if you’re trying to maintain your career. How can a woman reasonably be expected to work eight+ hours a day and raise a happy, healthy child? You’ll spend your lunch break pumping milk, and there will never be a time when you’re not tired. Additionally, you’ll feel guilty about going to work, as if not being there 24/7 for your child will permanently mess them up.
Trying to keep your relationship going will also become extremely difficult. How in the world can you watch a baby all day – or split your time between the baby and work – and still be expected to get excited when your partner gets home? And sex? Forget about it. That’s what got you into this situation in the first place!
Is It Normal To Hate Being A Mom?
The reality is that it’s quite normal to hate being a mom from time to time. When you decided to have a child, you gave up a huge chunk of your life. Now, it’s the baby’s life that matters most. You’ll eat last, sleep last, and just generally become last on your list of priorities. And that’s only if you’re lucky. In some cases, you’ll also have to deal with a very real mental health problem.
Intrusive thoughts are a major issue for new mothers. These thoughts can include disturbing or violent content. For instance, you might find yourself thinking about what would happen if you walked away from your baby and never went back. You’d never actually do it, of course, but simply having the thought may make you feel like the world’s worst mom. The good news is that not only are you not a bad mom, but pretty much everyone has thoughts like this one from time to time.
Unfortunately, you may also develop a more serious mental illness. Please keep an eye on yourself for the following warning signs:
- Major changes in sleeping or eating patterns.
- Extreme mood changes.
- Excessive anxiety, worry, or paranoia.
- Withdrawing from social events.
- Long-lasting irritability or sadness.
If you begin experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to speak to a professional right away.
Not sleeping is another biggie for mothers. Everyone needs to sleep at least seven hours a night on a regular basis. When your sleep pattern gets interrupted by a screaming baby, it can mess up much more than just that day. Studies show that most parents – or at least mothers – are sleep deprived for at least the first six years of a child’s life.
Being sleep-deprived can cause you to look ten years older. It also comes with higher blood pressure, a slower metabolism, weight gain, being more likely to catch a cold, having less mental acuity, and depression. Additionally, your odds of developing heart disease increase by 48 percent, you’ll triple your chances of getting type 2 diabetes, and you’ll become 36 percent more likely to experience colorectal cancer. In other words, sleep is critical, and you must figure out a way to get more of it before it’s too late.
Finally, you can also suffer from depletion. According to the dictionary, this means exhausting or seriously decreasing your supply of something. In this case, it refers to your emotional and physical fatigue. This can be a serious issue, so be sure to speak to a professional if you’ve been experiencing:
- Intense exhaustion and fatigue.
- Memory loss.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Lower sex drive.
- Poor immune function.
- Pre-existing medical conditions become worse.
What To Do When You Don’t Like Being A Parent
Being a parent is hard, and the secret is that no one likes being one all the time. There are going to be plenty of times in your life that you will hate being a parent, and it starts the same time that motherhood begins.
Now that you know this, it’s time to help yourself bounce back. When you have intrusive thoughts, are sleep-deprived, or are suffering from depletion, it’s important to take some time for yourself. You may be thinking, “How am I supposed to do that?” But here’s the thing: if you don’t give yourself some self-care, you’re going to burn out even more quickly. Therefore, turn off your guilty inner voice and carve out some time to take a bubble bath, read a book, or take a nap. Just doing one of these things will help you recover some of your lost energy.
Do you still feel alone? You’re not. Review the almost 300 comments on this post. Just knowing you’re not alone in your experience will most likely make you feel much better. Additionally, you can look through our helpful resources for new families for more information.
If you find yourself struggling as a result of becoming a mother, don’t despair because there is help available. The first thing you must do is reach out to someone. Whether you choose your best friend, a doctor, or a therapist, the act of reaching out will make you feel less alone. And don’t just do it once. Instead, keep reaching out until you get the full support you need.
In some cases, you may find yourself past your limit. That’s when it’s time to pick up the phone to get some emergency help. These calls are confidential and could make the difference between bouncing back and doing something regretful. If you need help right away, call one of the following:
- SAMHSA’s Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP
- NAMI Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI
- Mental Health America Hotline: Text MHA to 741741
- The Samaritans: 1-212-673-3000
Ultimately, the only way to start feeling better – and to stop hating motherhood – is to reach out for some help. By talking through your feelings, you can reach a much better state of being. Be sure to use the tips above and remember: it’s okay not to love being a parent every second of the day. But if the feelings become overwhelming, there are resources available to you.
Perhaps if we didn’t expect mothering to be the most joyous time of our lives, we wouldn’t feel so blindsided and guilt-ridden.
The same guilt is exactly what prevents so many parents from getting the help they need to sleep train their baby. Teaching an infant to sleep on their own is no easy task – it can be exhausting, stressful, and messy, just like so many aspects of parenting.
If you can find the confidence to ask for help from sleep training specialists like us who know babies, there’s a world of support waiting to help you get the rest you need to start feeling like yourself again.
The staff at Mommywise is here for you! We understand your baby’s signals and offer in-home guidance to sleep train your baby. Additionally, we set up young parents for success by allowing you to sleep, too! Contact us today to learn how you and your baby can finally get a good night’s sleep.
Hi, I’m Natalie, founder of Mommywise. I’m a Brooklyn mom of two (now) teenagers, PPD survivor, still humbled by the early years of parenting. I started this blog in 2004 as a way to help other parents who felt as dark and lonely as I felt to feel less shame, normalize the feelings of not loving parenthood, and raise awareness about postpartum mood disorders. I’m passionately committed to helping new parents feel more joy, offering sustainable employment for women and mothers, and contributing to positive change in the world.