Mom Is Fed Up With Putting Herself Second All the Time
The frustrated mom took to Reddit to rip the idea that once you become a mom, kids must come before your own feelings, needs, and general well-being.
Society has had unrealistically high expectations of mothers since the dawn of time. All you need to do is look at the current fight for women to get maternity leave—not to mention just simple acceptance around their individual choices (to work, to stay home, to breastfeed, to formula-feed, to do that in public or not, the list goes on and on). These fights weren't exactly better five, 10, 50 years ago. But now, we have social media, and so, moms raising their little ones today feel like they're completely under the microscope. A Redditor named Rivsmama took to the Parenting subreddit to explain just how fed up she is with pressure to put your own needs, feelings, and general well-being on a shelf as soon as you become a parent.
Rivsmama wrote, "I'm so frustrated with myself and just people in general, honestly. I feel like because I'm a mom now, my feelings, general well being, physical pain, mental health stuff doesn't matter, or matters less. Like I'm not a whole person anymore, but a 'Mom,' and if I'm stressed out, tired, frustrated, sick, in pain, unhappy, it's less important than before I had kids."
She said she feels there is a "toxic belief that you're just supposed to be content with these negative things, because you're a mom now and your kids come first. Everything is supposed to be about them."
The original poster (OP) went on to give specific, personal examples: "If I'm cramping, which happens a lot because I have stomach issues, I can't do less than what I normally do. I have to suck it up and be a mom. If I'm stressed out at the end of the day to the point that I'm shaking and my heart is pounding and I have this over urge to fucking scream, it's 'haha welcome to parenting!' If I'm really sad and miserable and unhappy with my life, I have to be strong for the kids. I can't think about me or how I feel or what I want. I have to not be selfish and put them first."
Rivsmama shared that she caught herself telling her husband that the reason he didn't make dinner was "because our daughter got shots that day and didn't react very well and had a fever and was miserable." While that was true, the OP explained that her real reason for skipping dinner prep was exhaustion "from holding a crying 16-pound baby all day, caring for an extremely energetic and somewhat difficult 5-year-old, trying to deal with our dog's flea issue by re-washing all 5000 blankets and pillows we apparently have in our house." She said she was "just too drained to care about making dinner. But I knew those reasons weren't good enough. That's part of being a mom, right? It's tough, right? So suck it up."
The OP's conclusion: "Parenting is draining, and that's fine. I don't regret being a parent. I just feel like once you become a mom, that's your identity and who you are, and you, as a person, on your own, matter less than before you were a mom. And it's tough sometimes. I love my kids and I always try to put them first, but I'm a person too. And I should matter too."
The post wracked up 1.6K upvotes and nearly 100 comments from fellow parents who mostly applauded Rivsmama's rant.
Hawtgawbage, a stay-at-home dad, wrote, "The thing that kills me about it is that you can either put on the sitcom mom face and seem to absolutely love every second of parenting, or be real about the struggle and suddenly it’s 'why did you even decide to have kids then?' You don’t get to have much nuance. You either exist in a state of nirvana or a state of misery. You don’t get to complain about your coworkers, or commiserate about work-life balance with your peers and shit like that. You just get to grit your teeth and change the diapers and make the tuna sandwiches while you have the flu."
KarotzCupcake observed, "I think this is a big contributor to PPD/PPA. You go from being checked on weekly in your last weeks of pregnancy, asked how you are feeling daily, urged to rest, relax take it easy to becoming completely invisible to doctors, family and friends in one day. As soon as the baby is born nobody cares how you feel, how much you hurt, how tired you are. Everything becomes about the baby. It’s unfair and shocking to any new mom. I remember as a new mom that you get people more concerned about a tooth extraction than they are about you giving birth or having to care for a child (or two) on very little sleep and no mental of physical break for days/months on end."
The fellow Redditor went on to share with the OP that she should "be a loud advocate for yourself and your needs. Don’t be afraid to stand up and say, 'I’m tired, I’m exhausted, can’t do it anymore.' Ask for help, delegate dinner, delegate laundry or just simply let it pile up until nobody has anything left to wear then have a family meeting and split chores. You shouldn’t carry this alone. It’s hard, relentless and people should care!"
TheRealSquirrel girl weighed in, "You probably haven’t taken a trip in a while, but you know how they say to put your oxygen mask on first in the airplane? Sometimes you need to take care of yourself first."
Experts agree that struggling from a "lack of oxygen" can lead to negative outcomes for parents and kids. As Aimee Danielson, director of the Women’s Mental Health Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in the District, told The Washington Post: “The question I ask moms is, ‘If you were choosing a child-care provider, and you had a choice between someone who seemed stressed, tired and overwhelmed versus someone who seemed rested, contented, happy and healthy, who would you want for your kids?' If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your kids."
That said, the issue Rivsmama brings up is a complex and pervasive one that can't be solved easily or quickly. But the more we talk about it and reassure moms that it's OK to take care of themselves before their children—and for their children—the healthier and happier families will be.
As a Redditor named TailDollWave put it, "I tell people that you can't pour from an empty cup. Sometimes, we're gonna have sandwiches for dinner, because I'm drained. Sometimes, I eat the last ice cream bar in the fridge, because my kids have gotten more than their fair share. Sometimes I pick the movie for movie night because I'm tired of watching the same three Disney films."
To that, the OP said, "Good on you for putting yourself first a bit. I'm definitely going to make a bigger effort to do that too." Here's hoping more and more moms are inspired to do the same.