Why Motherhood (Sometimes) Makes Me Feel Like a Failure as a Personposted by Andrea | 09/20/2013
Before I had Nora, I was literally busy busy busy from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to bed. And not just busy shopping or other leisurely activities.
I was working part time outside the home, part time as a Virtual Assistant, more than part time on my blog, juggling a crazy number of in-home organizing clients, and speaking for events all across the state of Michigan.
My house was meticulously clean, every room was fully decorated, our freezer was jam packed with homemade meals, we had at least 4 varieties of baked goods at all times, and our yard never looked better.
Dave and I did all sorts of home projects (and when we said we’d do it in a weekend, we actually completed them in a weekend).
I couponed like a champ, played “the drugstore game” weekly, and rarely ever spent more than $20 a week to fully stock our fridge, freezer, and pantry.
I was on almost every committee, group, and organization for our church and I volunteered for several different community organizations (seriously, some weeks I was at church EVERY single night).
I brought meals and goodies to sick people and new moms from church, from my work, neighbors, family, friends, etc. on a regular basis.
I handmade our Christmas cards. And I did crafts. For real!
Dave and I participated in TONS of school functions. We attended all the band concerts, choir concerts, musicals, sporting events, fundraisers, auctions, special dinners, faculty parties, etc. etc. I was even one of the main volleyball referees for both the high school and middle school volleyball teams.
I did fun things with friends and family, went on casual dates with Dave, and actually had a little free time
I woke up around 6:00am every day (usually without an alarm), did everything that had to be done each day, and almost always went to bed by 10:30pm with a fully crossed off to-do list.
So yeah, I was busy — but I loved every bit of it.
I was busy in the best way, I was helping, I was participating, I was involved, I was making something of my life, but most of all, I was SUPER productive.
I LOVE being productive!
Then we announced our baby news and everyone (I mean everyone) told me I would never be able to do everything I was doing after the baby was born.
At first, my stubborn self was annoyed by these comments. After all, I’m extremely efficient, I know how to maximize my time, and I basically had an endless supply of energy. But then I started to rationalize things and decided that maybe I should scale back… just a little.
So as my due date approached, I quit a few of my committees at church, I dropped a few volunteer gigs, I stopped doing the volleyball, and I ordered our Christmas cards online
I figured that was enough to give me a small amount of spare time for the new baby — after all, how much time and energy could a new baby take?
And then Nora was born…
As I struggled to navigate life with a newborn, I desperately clung to a few shreds of my old ultra-productive self for as long as I possibly could (it was several months before I finally gave in) and then I finally realized that I really COULD NOT do everything I was doing before Nora.
I felt like a total failure — not necessarily as a mom, just as a person.
After all, I preach productivity, organization, simple-living, planning ahead, etc. and if I was really “practicing what I preached” I certainly shouldn’t have any trouble keeping up with my pre-baby schedule.
If ANYONE could do it, I could.
But I just couldn’t.
Ever so slowly (and shamefully) I continued to resign from committees, quit volunteer opportunities, skip school functions, turn down new job opportunities, terminate current jobs, cancel vacations and outings with friends, limit the amount of couponing and shopping I did each week, relax my cleaning standards, eliminate anything even remotely unnecessary from my daily life, and say “no” a lot.
No longer were my days jam-packed with activities that made me feel useful, needed, helpful, and productive. Instead, I sat at home, by myself, holding a screaming baby, and mentally tabulating ALL the things I should have been doing.
I was doing the best I could as a mom, but I felt like I was failing at EVERYTHING else… all the things I loved doing and still wanted to do.
And if I’m really honest, even now, almost 2 years later, I still think back to my insanely productive pre-children days and feel a little disheartened at the lack of productive progress I’ve made.
Although I willingly give LOTS of effort and attention to our family, my business, and our home, everything else has basically fallen off my radar screen — and I suppose that’s OK.
I’ve picked my priorities and I realize that the only way to “have it all” is to limit what “ALL” is. I’ve done that… and I’m happy with the amount of time and attention I’m able to give to my priorities.
I guess I just wish I had room in my schedule for a few more priorities!
I wish I was doing more at church again. I wish I was participating in more school functions. I wish I was the one bringing meals and having company over instead of the other way around (although I’ll never turn down a free meal!) I wish I spent more time on our house — cleaning, decorating, renovating, etc. I kind of even wish I could make homemade Christmas cards again
But with baby #2 on the way, now is not the best time to start adding things to my schedule.
I know that. I’ve come to terms with that. I’m OK with that.
But every now and then, there are still days when my duties as “mom” make me feel like a failure as a person because I’m no longer doing ALL those wonderful and helpful things I used to do and enjoy SO much.
I realize that what I’m doing now is much more important than a high school tennis match, a church choir practice, or homemade Christmas cards… I just need to accept that productivity is not the most important thing in life, and then move on.
SIDE NOTE: Making a “done list” works wonders for me!
It took a while, but I’ve FINALLY reached the point where I no longer feel bad or beat myself up about the fact that I (sometimes) feel like a failure as a person now that I’m a mom. After all, you can’t completely remove 26 years of a crazy-productive and semi work-a-holic personality out of a girl in less than two years!
It’s a process that I’ve slowly been coming to terms with.
Not that I dislike my job as a mom; I’m just still SO surprised how much time and energy it requires of me — so much that I physically can’t do all those other things, no mater how great or fun or wonderful they might be and no matter how well I manage my time.
And when I see other moms who are bringing 20 dozen baked goods to the church auction, attending every school function, sending out homemade Christmas cards, and seemingly doing all those things I wish I still made the time for, I MUST remind myself that maybe they don’t run a full-time business, maybe their children are in school all day long, maybe their kids take naps and sleep at night, or maybe they pay someone else to clean and decorate their homes.
Some day, I will be able to make time for those activities if they are important enough. However, I think if there was ONE thing I would have liked to understand before having a kid — this would have been it (and yes, I realize that there is no way to really understand this before you live it).
I suppose I’ve always learned best from real-life experience, why should motherhood be any different!