Guest Blogger: I’m Not a Natural Mom

We have a special treat for you today. Meet Rachel Harrell who runs The Naptime Projects , a blog dedicated to end the mom-shaming and helping moms take back their life one nap-time at a time. She enjoys building things from pallets, date nights with her husband, Chris, and playing with her baby boy, Will.

I don’t love motherhood. I don’t adore being a stay at home mom. I love my baby boy dearly, but I’m not a natural mom. Patience has never been a strength of mine, and I’m not an overly compassionate person. Both are extremely necessary for being a mom, especially a stay at home mom.

Since I was little, I knew I wanted kids. I enjoyed kids and knew I wanted some of my own, but I guess I had an overly optimistic view of motherhood. I assumed I would have well behaved kids that just came out that way. That I would be great as a homemaker, wife, and mom, that I would regularly keep up with friends. I always imagined I would be thriving as a mom.

The truth is, I’m not thriving as a mom.

I’m lonely, I’m overwhelmed, and I can’t keep up with the “supposed to’s” of motherhood. There are days that I’m just not sure if I can handle one more slimy hand touching me or change one more poopy diaper. I feel like I’m having to work really, really hard at this mothering thing. I don’t love it. And I feel guilty because of that.

I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that I am not a natural mother. I imagine that some women possess a natural set of skills for motherhood. There’s a woman out there who feels natural doing the duties of a mom. She is good at setting up toddler activities, she has a knack for meal planning, and somehow, she maintains a clean house while keeping up with everything else. This mom loves taking her kids to the park for hours at a time and rarely surrenders to TV as a babysitter.

After half an hour, I’m done with the park. I use the TV paired with an exersaucer almost everyday so I can take a shower. Locking myself in the bathroom for just five minutes of personal space is something I do on a regular basis. By the time my husband gets home from work, I’m desperate to have a real conversation instead of the one-sided loop of motherhood phrases: “When you throw things you don’t get them back,” “Are you poopy again?” “Look where you are going, or you are going to bonk!”

I’m starting to learn that all of this is ok. It doesn’t make me the world’s worst mother. I still love my child and am trying to do the best I can for him. In the end, he is most likely going to turn out ok. So I battle my feelings.

1) I’m lonely.

Loneliness sucks. But I’m prone to wallow in it and not do anything about it. I’m what I like to call a people-person introvert. I love being around people that I know well, but meeting new people and making small talk wears me out. I desperately need friends – close friends. So, I’ve joined a Mothers of Preschoolers group at my church to help me meet moms. They are all in the same stage of life as I am. They understand the horrible teething weeks, the endless diapers, and the fluidity of plans based on toddler tantrums. This is my current way to battle the loneliness, and hopefully it will bloom into many beautiful friendships.

2) I’m overwhelmed.

I’m overwhelmed by the clutter of toys always covering the floor, the mounds of laundry, the never-ending screaming on a hard day. I used to think I could handle a lot. Then I became a mother and found out that I really can’t. The main way I battle overwhelm is to get out of the house at least once a day. When I am feeling like I am about to explode, we run an errand, go to the library, or even just go on a walk. The simple act of getting up and out has been so, so helpful for me, and my little one gets a bit of a reset out of it as well.

3) I can’t keep up with the “supposed to’s” of motherhood.

This is something I have to actively work against every day. I have to give up the supposed to’s and the comparing. I’m not going to be the same mom as someone else. My life is going to look different than everyone else’s too. The only one enforcing standards on me is myself. My house doesn’t have to be perfectly clean all the time, my child isn’t going to be well behaved every day, and I may end up making quesadillas for dinner 4 nights in a row. And all of that is ok. Perfection is an unattainable standard that will just create misery in the pursuit of it.

I’m an unnatural mom and I’m becoming ok with that.

I will continue to battle my feelings and work towards better coping strategies. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that this mom thing isn’t easy. But in the end, it really is worth it. Nothing could replace this precious child of mine.