Motherhood: The Most Difficult Job I’ve Ever Had

posted by Andrea | 02/14/2012

I’ve had many non-glamours jobs over the course of my life…

  • washing dishes for my neighbor’s catering company when I was in middle school
  • cleaning offices at night for another neighbor’s company
  • busing tables for a local bar/pub when I was 16
  • folding clothes for American Eagle {probably the most ridiculous job ever!}
  • stocking shelves and working the checkout lanes at various grocery stores
  • janitorial work for Calvin College {this is how I met Dave — so it was worth it!}
  • cleaning houses to make money for college

…and the list could go on!

But now that I’m a mom, I feel so blessed to finally have a job that I love, that doesn’t involve washing dishes, clearing tables, folding clothes, cleaning toilets, stocking pantry shelves, grocery shopping…. eerr well, never mind :)

All kidding aside, motherhood is definitely not the most glamours job in the world… and it’s probably the most difficult job I’ve ever had. There are even days when I’d rather be busing tables, cleaning offices, or doing pretty much anything else but working from home with my baby.

Yes, I’m sure some of you now think I’m the most horrible person in the world for wanting to clean offices instead of care for my baby… and that’s OK! I can’t change how I feel, and just because I’m somewhat overwhelmed by motherhood, doesn’t mean I love Nora any less.

In fact, I love her so much that it sometimes makes things worse. I’ve never felt such an overwhelming sense of responsibility before, I’ve never felt such a strong desire to do everything “right”; yet at the same time, I’ve never felt so helpless and unsure of what I’m supposed to do.

I’m sure I’m not only new mom out there who bawled the entire ride home from the hospital thinking… what in the world am I going to do with her when we get home. I have no idea how to do this! Don’t we need a manual, some instructions, a live-in nurse, or at the very least, someone to show us what to do?

Just knowing that Nora depends on me for everything is sometimes more than my independent spirit can handle. Yes, I’m willing to work hard, do unpleasant things, and make sacrifices. Yes I love a good challenge, but I also love my sleep… and eating with both hands!

I’ve never had a job that required constant 24/7 availability, I’ve never had a job that I felt so unqualified for, and I’ve never had a job that didn’t involve some type of training {or at least a small instruction manual}.

Yet, I’ve never had a job that mattered so much! 

I’m the type of person who likes to be good at everything I do. I’m a fast learner, I work really hard, I’m willing to do things I don’t want to do, make sacrifices, deal with difficult situations, push myself to be better… and I LOVE a challenge.

So I should excel at motherhood… right?

But for some reason, I feel like I’m barely staying afloat. I feel like I can’t do this.

I think it all boils down to the fact that for the very first time in my life, I don’t have FULL CONTROL! As much as I try {and believe me friends, I’ve tried} I can not control when she takes a nap, how long she sleeps, when she decides to go to bed at night, when she needs to eat, or when she decides to start screaming for no apparent reason at all.

Dave and I read the books, we followed the books, we took advice from so many people who have their kids on a schedule, we’ve tried this, we’ve tried that, we’ve tried everything again and again… but so far, nothing has worked.

And we REALLY want something to work! 

It’s been almost 3 months of desperately trying to get her to go to bed before 1:00am, trying to get her to take any sort of an afternoon nap, trying to calm her down during her lengthy screaming sessions EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT… but we can’t.

Nora is definitely still the boss over at our house… and I’m pretty sure she likes it that way!

I flop into bed every night and wonder how on earth single moms and military wives do this — and don’t even get me started on teen moms. But then, every morning when I’m changing her diaper and she’s still so sleepy, she opens her eyes and she smiles. In that brief moment, I feel like eveything is going to be OK and I realize I CAN do this for another day.

But it’s still not easy.

Especially for someone like me who thrives on productivity, being “in control”, and having all my ducks in a row. Frankly, I don’t even know where half my ducks are right now… and they definitely aren’t in any type of a row!

Everyone says that Motherhood is the greatest job in the whole world — and while they are probably right, I have to wonder if the women who say that are already well past the baby-stage and have simply pushed the overwhelming, exhausted, and over-tired memories out of their brains!

Or maybe they all had perfect babies who were never colicky at night and actually took naps during the day :)

Motherhood is not for the weary…

And if you are a strong Type-A person like myself, it might just be one of the most difficult jobs you’ll ever have.

Good thing she’s so darn cute!

And honestly, I don’t want you to think I’m not enjoying motherhood… because I am. It’s just A LOT different and A LOT more challenging than I thought it would be!

As you can see by all the pictures, we are definitely having lots of fun with little Nora — it’s also helpful that Dave is one of the most patient, low-key, go-with-the flow people I’ve ever met {they say opposites attract right!}. He reminds me {daily} that I AM a good mom and that I CAN do this.

I can do this!

And to all the other type-A moms out there… you can do it too!

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115 comments

  1. Andi

    02/20/2012

    This is a great post, and even brought comfort to me a mother of four boys ages 6, 4, 2, and 5 months. I have been in a slump lately dealing with my youngest who doesn’t want to sleep and cries a lot. Hang in there. This too shall pass. I will pray for your rest, and peace of mind.

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  2. Michelle

    02/20/2012

    Here’s what I know about parenting … if you’re doing it from your heart, you’re doing it right! If it’s hard, you’re doing it right.
    It’s exhausting, rewarding, frustrating, challenging and amazing … all rolled into one!
    And as soon as you’ve got one thing figured out, something new creeps up to change things up.
    I have four beautiful babes … 10, 9, 6 and 3. The first 3 slept like a dream … but wouldn’t eat well. Nursing them was a challenge! But the 4th nursed like a dream from day one … and at 3 can barely sleep through the night! (Last night wasn’t bad … 1 “I lost my sock” and 1 “I need to go potty”!)
    Just know that just when you have this phase figured out, something new will come along to “challenge” you … but I will say this, if you are able to keep up with your blog, your marriage and shower semi-regularly, you’re doing an amazing job!!

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  3. Jenna

    02/21/2012

    You are doing a great job Mama. Nora is beautiful.

    Thanks for this post. It reminded me that motherhood is hard but so worth it. It is nice to know there are others in the trenches with us.

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  4. Alissia

    02/21/2012

    Hang in there….it will get easier!! It will never be easy, don’t get me wrong ;) but those first 6 months to a year are about the toughest. I too had a very collicky baby who screamed every night for hours & hours on end….and survived (the vacuum cleaner actually would get her to stop as well as a loud box fan….she STILL sleeps with the fan on to this day & shes now 2!)

    Motherhood is the most diffuclt job, but also the most fullfilling & definetly the most important! We all have felt the same way you do, you are SO normal. I don’t think it ends up being the way any of us had pictured it.

    Schedules are wonderful, but she is still young & they don’t work for every baby. Keep trying to get her into a pattern of eating & sleeping….but don’t sweat it too much, it will all fall into place. In the mean time, do whatever works so that YOU are taken care of so that you can keep at it :)

    BTW….Nora is absolutely beautiful & looks so much like you. Keep on posting pictures, we love to see her!!

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  5. Sheila

    02/22/2012

    Thanks so much for this post. I am a first time mom to the best (because all babies are the best and no mothers are biased!) 7 month old son and I can empathize with what you are going through. It is so nice to hear you be honest about your struggles and the reality of being the mom of a newborn. Especially when the world seems to expect you to be ecstatic about your new role every waking minute, and saying you aren’t is somehow admitting failure…I am also finding it challenging to accept a new definition of productivity (I am a lawyer on maternity leave) and to figure out how to chanel my need for independence. Thanks for reminding me that I am not the only one!

    And from what I can see Nora is a pretty lucky little girl to have you. Just keep doing what your’re doing.

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  6. Nichole

    02/23/2012

    I just had my 4th baby in November. She is by far my most difficult baby. Just when I thought I knew what to expect! I carry her around in a sling all day. My favorite is a Moby Wrap. This is the only thing that stops her from crying and keeps my hands free to take care of my 3 older children. Thankfully at 3 months old she is just now allowing me to sit her down for a bit a few times a day. Hang in there!

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  7. Heart and Haven

    02/23/2012

    Such precious pics of your beautiful daughter! God always gives us exactly what we need! In this case, through your precious gift of a daughter, I believe God is teaching you about patience and flexibility :-)

    I have 3 children (ages 17, 4, 3) and another on the way due mid March. Every baby is different and special in their own way. Unfortunately, there is no “book” to help in every situation…but through maternal bonding, we can learn our our childs’ individual needs.

    I know when my 1st was born, he would have a fussy time each evening (about an hour before dinner time). I found that if I washed his hair in the sink, it would be very soothing for him. Not sure if it was the sound of running water, scalp massage, or what….but I think by that time of the day he just got a bit overwhelmed/overstimulated with the activity of the day, and that helped him to relax . (he was a very alert baby, especially for a newborn….and he didn’t nap much during the day)

    My 2nd would get really fussy at nights after feedings, requiring me to hold him upright for up to an hr before I could lay him back down in bed. I found out he had acid reflux, so laying flat right after eating was extremely uncomfortable for him. There were times I would result to letting him sleep upright in his swing so I could get back to sleep sooner (a sleep dreprived mommy is not a good thing!)

    My 3rd child was the most content baby ever! She was literally like a little doll. However, she was so content to just be wherever she was, she wasn’t meeting certain developmental milestones she was expecting to make. My gut instinct was correct, and she was referred by her pediatrician to qualify for physical therapy.

    A “colicky” baby is a “hurting” baby, and it’s up to us to help figure out what they’re trying to tell us. And it seems as soon as you figure out one issue/phase of babies’ life, then they enter another phase that challenges us to learn more. Enjoy every moment.- they grow up so quickly! Believe me, I know! I have a 17 yr old, who’s about to graduate HS in a few months and is signed up to enter the US Air Force, Pararescue Program. Just yesterday, it seems, he was crawling around the house still in diapers.

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  8. meg

    02/24/2012

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. Please keep it up. You are putting words to issues that many new mothers are afraid to admit publicly – once the baby comes, you have limited to no control after being accustomed to having it…or at least thinking you did! Once you think you’ve figured it out, she’s moved on to something else you have to figure out.

    I had my first at age 41 so I know EXACTLY how you’re feeling and you described it so perfectly. I think we all would be better served if “they” spent less time on child birth preparation and more time on motherhood preparation. I got through it and you will too. As hard as it is for us Type A mothers, you will learn to let go and enjoy the chaos. Mine are now 13 and 7 and it gets easier, I promise. Not easier as in less work, but easier as in letting go. Control what you can and try to let go of what you can’t.

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  9. meg

    02/24/2012

    One more thing…accept help when offered and ask for help when needed!

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  10. Julie Clarke

    02/25/2012

    I love your site and appreciate your honesty. I am a professional organizer and mother of three grown sons. Two are out of college and one is a freshman in college. I am in the empty nest phase of life and loving it but remembering where you are now seems like yesterday. The days are sometimes very long but the years are so short. Enjoy:-)

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  11. Holly Heasley

    07/02/2013

    This was a great post, Andrea! My first was very difficult, too, and I felt very similar during the early times, too. It cracked me up about you wondering about a baby manual on your way home from the hospital, b/c I was the exact same way when the nurse left my husband and I alone in the hospital room with our son for the first time. I was thinking, “really? she actually trusts that we can take care of this little guy by ourselves? Don’t we need a little supervision?!” I’m glad for your sake that Nora’s older now and not colicky anymore!

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