Just Go Ahead and Embrace the Misery of Motherhood

We've got good reasons you should be embracing the misery of motherhood

Embracing the misery of motherhood actually makes life easier. Here are a few mantras to memorize to help you go through motherhood journey.

I think it is time we all started embracing the misery of motherhood.

I know, I know. Another buzzkill from yours truly. First I tell the world to suck it up, and now this ’embracing the misery’ stuff.

It’s a constant party around here.

The thing is, I think that embracing the misery of motherhood actually makes the whole trip a lot better. Rather than making us depressed and anxious, it helps us all chill out and accept that high expectations for every aspect of life are not realistic and can actually make us unhappy.

I think it is time we all started embracing the misery of motherhood. The thing is, I think that embracing the misery of motherhood actually makes the whole trip a lot better. Knowing that things are just a little hairy right now can actually make things easier to bear. Lower your expectations of this season of your life. Stop comparing yourself to the Instagram moms who always look amazing in their perfect messy bun, cute outfits with no spit up on them, and kids with perfectly coordinating outfits. Stop comparing yourself to the Pinterest mom who somehow is creative and worldly and gorgeous all of the time.

Here is a secret: It’s all false. I’m sure you’ve heard that before- that the things people portray on social media aren’t real life. But when you’re up at 2 A.M. and up again at 4:30 A.M., scrolling through those happy moms who seem so well-rested it’s hard to remember that life isn’t like that for them all the time. The amount of work they have to put in to getting that one shot is unfathomable to most of us. The hair, the makeup, the perfect set-up, and the countless outtakes (not to mention all the screaming in between) is usually how those things go.

It’s easy to look at those women and think, “I wish I could be that happy in motherhood.” Here’s another little secret: you can be.

Embracing the misery of motherhood can help us actually feel happier. Those Instagram moms go through all the SUCK of getting *the perfect* image, knowing full well when they start the process of getting themselves dressed, getting the kids dressed, staging the image, and writing the caption knowing that the process will probably suck. And as “regular” moms we can take note of that- the process will suck some days but in the end you will have something truly beautiful to show for it. Rather than making us depressed and anxious, it helps us all chill out and accept that high expectations for every aspect of life are not realistic and can actually make us unhappy.

I love this quote I ran across the other day. It pretty much sums up my feelings perfectly.

Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just ordinary people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. . . .

Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.

~Jenkin Lloyd Jones

Isn’t that heavy? I really love that quote.

In fact, research has shown that acceptance of a situation and facing the reality of a situation, rather than having false expectations of what it should be like, can make you happier. Dr. Denise Fournier the author of Mindfully Present, Fully Alive states that, “Failing to accept reality creates suffering where there’s already pain. It creates confusion where there can be clarity, anguish where there can be peace. We don’t accept things in order to change what’s happening, nor do we do it in order to feel better about it. We accept because it’s the only logical thing to do. Whatever is happening is happening; whatever occurred already occurred. We embrace reality because it’s already here, right now, and resisting it won’t make it go away.”

The same can be said for motherhood. There are times where you will wonder why you can’t seem to get on top of the laundry or on top of the dishes piling up. You will feel like you’re failing when you haven’t showered and your bathrooms look like you live in a frat house. But if we accept the reality of the situation, meaning that we accept that having a newborn means knowing that your house is going to look messy and that sometimes your kids will make you feel so exhausted that even thinking about standing up to do dishes is unfathomable, motherhood just might feel a little less stressful.

When you are mom, you have to understand that your situation isn’t unique. We all experience these difficulties, sometimes from pregnancy on forward throughout motherhood. But like the Instagram moms, the hard work usually pays off in the end. In the meantime, here are some mantras to get you through the long days and short years:

Most pregnancies are uncomfortable (or worse.)

Most births involve some pain.

Most diapers are gross. And they require constant changing.

Most babies don’t sleep much.

Most breastfeeding relationships need work.

Postpartum recovery… it can be pretty sucky.

Most siblings fight.

Most kids are annoying. (It’s OK to admit it. For real.)

Most of us don’t look perfect every day.

Most bellies have stretch marks.

Most boobs end up saggy.

Most bodies don’t return to “normal.”

Most children will not be the best in their class or accomplish any huge, world-altering feat in their lifetime.

Most moms yell at their kids at some point.

Many moms feel like running away.

We all cry in our bedrooms from exhaustion and anxiety and feelings of failure.

The work of home life is the same. If part of your work on this planet is motherhood, isn’t it good to know that “Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. . . “?

Much of the work of mothering and family raising is dull, dirty, and thankless.

Children don’t say thank you.

For years.

Babies will nurse around the clock for months and not once acknowledge that you are awesome and selfless. They will wake you at night so many times you can’t count. And when they are finally able to speak, they don’t say, “Gosh, that was so good of you to nighttime parent me mama. You rock.”

They don’t even remember!

When they get older and you sacrifice your own desires to buy them shoes or a new jacket, they often don’t notice. They might even ask for something else! (This is one of my pet peeves as a mother. Seriously drives me nuts.)

Motherhood is a marathon. It takes a long time to get your finished product. The truth is, you might not even live long enough to see how incredible the kids turn out, because it can take a lot longer than 18 years for a person to mature and become their true self. And when they are that true self, it doesn’t really matter if they invented the lightbulb or did something “special” with their life.

It is good enough if they are decent and kind and average.

The “delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts” of motherhood are those dirty diapers, sleepless nights, ungrateful kids, temper tantrums, and torn perineum. They are the careers put on hold, the overwhelming days, and the crying-in-the-bathroom-with-the-door-locked moments.

It isn’t all intellectually stimulating. It isn’t all easy. It gets dirty around here, both literally and figuratively.

But that is part of the ride. Bumpy, painful, uncomfortable- yes. Interspersed with moments of grandeur?


Baby kisses, the first laugh, when they finally tell you they love you, falling asleep at the breast, when you catch them showing kindness to others, those are the vistas and thrills of motherhood. The ironic thing is, we wouldn’t even notice the depth of meaning in those tiny, stunning moments if it wasn’t for all the other “blah” stuff.

And as cliche as it sounds, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Your babies will get bigger. The diapers will stop. So will the sleepless nights. The tantrums in the middle of the grocery store will turn into teenagers slamming their doors as you open a bottle of wine. You will forget what it’s like to follow a toddler around a birthday party or how many times you yelled, “No! Don’t lick that!” each day. Your children will one day no longer suck the life out of you. You won’t remember the hurt nipples or all the moments you prayed for a full night’s sleep that night.

But when you’re in the thick of it- the misery of motherhood that we all experience- it seems like it will never end. It seems as though you will forever be tired, exhausted, covered in spit up, and missing showers three days in a row. You can’t imagine a life where you sleep all night, take a shower without someone throwing the curtain back, or drinking hot coffee in one sitting. You don’t know if you’ll ever get to a place where your children won’t come downstairs because they are all of a sudden dying of thirst right at bedtime.

It just kind of…happens. All of a sudden you wake up and you realize you can’t remember the last time you had to wake up with the kids at night. You drink your coffee before it gets cold. You don’t have eyes on your children every minute, and you can cook dinner without someone on your hip or your leg or asking for a snack. There is no specific moment that the misery of those early days of motherhood stops, and most of us don’t even realize it’s happened until it’s long passed.

And those moments of misery? Those are the moments you’ll remember when your own children have their babies, and they are complaining to you about how exhausted they are and how their child won’t sleep. You’ll reflect back with a smile about those rough, awful days and you might even tell them the thing you hated to hear when you were in that stage of life, “It all goes by so fast- enjoy it while you can.” Because it is true. It does go by fast. In the blink of an eye, in fact.

So, for now, let’s all sit back a little more often and embrace the misery of motherhood. Because one day it will be over. And you might actually miss it.

It’s pretty awesome.


Photo: New Africa/Shutterstock

14 thoughts on “Just Go Ahead and Embrace the Misery of Motherhood”

  1. Incredible article and JUST what I needed as I’m attempting to bring my four children back to health this week. Love your perspective and I couldn’t agree with you more. So awesome. That quote!!! It’s my new mantra. Thank you.

  2. Possibly the best thing I’ve ever read.
    I’m a mom to five kids. Currently 2:30 am nursing. Truly best article.

  3. Hey, us dads get up at night and change diapers too. And I’d love to pay someone else to cut my hair and buy some new clothes and stuff for my hobbies too, but yeah, the RESP don’t feed itself.

    But yeah, you can love your kids and still feel abused, unappreciated and exhausted. It’s allowed 🙂

  4. Yes, this is very true. It’s definitely worth every hard aspect but, “the days are long but the years are short” is very true. The days ARE long. And then once day you wake up and they’re driving.

  5. Great article!
    I’d love to experience all of this… Alas, I probably won’t ever.

    How hard it may get somethings, mothers, think of how lucky You are to join the ride :’)

    Thank You for sharing!

  6. You know, it’s a good article. But I have a pet peeve, and I wish other women would speak up. Approximately 44 years ago, a new word burst upon the scene under the true woman’s radar. ‘BOOB’ which to me means stupid. Just saying, Boobs are dumb, ‘breasts’ are (actually) intelligent

  7. I am going to bring over the same thing I posted on Facebook in response to this article and say I don’t get this. Truly. I can’t NOT believe so many people–mothers!–write about how miserable motherhood is. Are there bad days and rough patches and difficult times? Of course, as with all people that are living, mothers or not. But being a mother is miserable? No, it’s not. Continuing to harp on how it is misery is just ridiculous. Poor children of these writers too.

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