I refuse to be a Sacrificial Mother. That includes lying about my kids or about kids in general. Sometimes kids are assholes. It’s a side effect of being human.
And the real truth, the part we’re never supposed to say out loud, is that I simply don’t like them all the time. Like, for instance, the entire year of 3.
THREE SUCKED. There was a part of every single day, and a huge part of many days, that truly, deeply sucked.
From what I’ve read about childhood development, what I’ve heard from other parents and experts, and what I’ve lived through my kid and other children I’m close to I have come to the conclusion that I don’t like three-year-olds. It’s a stage that pushes every single button that I have. In a row. And then all at once. So. Much. Fun.
But this post isn’t about that. It’s about the fact that every single time I say that, or any version of that, someone comes along to shut me up. They don’t know me that well.
I’m here to speak my truth. I’m here to hold space for other mothers and parents to speak their truth. I will hold space for that. I will hold those boundaries.
This time it was a Facebook post. I was thinking about the fact that I just don’t like three-year-olds and wondering what other ages and stages people dislike. I mean, we hear all the time about how tough raising teenagers is. And I have many friends who truly hate the newborn stage, but they never get to talk about that. Why can’t we say it? Why do others take it so personally when we do?
My truth is not a reflection of you and yours is not a judgment of me. Let’s start there. You get to hate everything before three, I get to loathe everything after. It doesn’t make one of us a better parent. Maybe you truly love rolling through each stage even though it’s challenging. Maybe you’ve realized that you didn’t really want to be a mother and no stage is getting better. It could be that one year is your kryptonite with one kid and a totally different one with the next kid. Maybe you’re like me and there is a stage that you just don’t like. Not for your kid or for anyone else’s.
YOU GET TO SAY THAT.
Honesty is one of our best weapons against the myth of the Sacrificial Mother. Faith is another. The myth won’t survive if we’re honest with each other about what we’re thinking and how we’re feeling. It won’t survive if we have faith that our honesty doesn’t make us bad parents or bad people.
This particular Facebook post got a lot of engagement. I think that’s because it’s still rare for mothers, and especially moms who blog, to admit their truth so publicly. Parents rushed in to tell their stories and commiserate, to offer hope, or to offer to trade the years they don’t like for the years I don’t like. My online community is pretty great.
Eventually, there were two parents who had to remind the rest of us that it isn’t so bad, that it’s all worth it, that others have gone through this before. There is a place for those reminders, but this was not that place.
I don’t doubt the intentions of the women who wrote these posts. I’m sure that this is what was told to them if they ever dared to speak their truth. One day you’ll miss this, it’s not their fault, talk to your friends about it. The message is, don’t say this out loud in public. The message is that there are things we don’t talk about.
But some of us don’t have friends with kids that we can talk to about this. Some of us have extremely toxic relationships with our moms, or our moms are not alive. Some of us don’t have a supportive family that we can turn to. All of us deserve to speak our truth.
We get to speak our truth on the days that we went full Pinterest Perfection Mom and take a million pictures before our kids destroy our creation.
We get to speak our truth when we screamed and yelled and did the exact thing we promised ourselves we would never do when we finally grew up and had the power.
We get to speak our truth when school pictures come back and they are just too perfect for words.
We get to speak our truth when we are completely sure that the speech delay is our fault, even though the therapist, God, and everyone has said it isn’t.
We get to speak our truth when we are in the rocking chair at 1 am or outside the bedroom door at 1pm begging them to please just sleep.
We get to speak our truth when they all nap at the same time and we feel like we have somehow made magic (pro-tip it’s really just that that’s what silence feels like).
There are as many truths as there are parents and kids. There is room enough for all of us. I promise. Your truth matters. You matter mama, and I am in your corner.
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