If Kids Disrupt Our Lives So Much, Why Do We Do It?

The Other Side of the Motherhood Story

(Listen to the audio version of this article here.)

Before I had kids, I used to see all of the motherhood memes on social media and scroll right on by, rolling my eyes a bit. Why are there so many? Now that I am a mother, I read almost every single one, laugh, screenshot the best, and send them to my friends. 

They’re funny because they’re true. 

All of them. The ones about how your kid never asks their father for something if mom is in the room. The ones about how your toddler has a meltdown because you cut their sandwich in half (even though they asked for you to cut it in half yesterday), about how you never knew what tired was until you became a parent, or, of course, about how your biggest mom fantasy is going somewhere alone (probably Target) wearing something other than leggings and sipping on your coffee while it’s still warm. 

Yes, all the clichés are funny to us moms, because we are living, breathing proof that they’re all true.

A little encouragement when motherhood is disappointing boardBut, when we only share our pregnancy and delivery war stories, daily grievances, and the laughable straw that finally broke our mama’s back and turned us into a raging lunatic who honestly even scared us a little bit—what are we communicating to the people who don’t know the other half of the story?

Because, there is another half of the story, you know…

It’s not all minefields, headaches, exhaustion, anarchy, and questioning your own sanity. These things are absolutely a part of it, but they are not the sum total. So, I have decided to share the other side of the coin: The shiny one that feels so special we want to hide it away in the back of our top dresser drawer. And perhaps that’s what we moms do. Maybe we do too good of a job of keeping those sparkly, wonderful parts to ourselves. 

But why would we do that? I think, because some things in life—like magic and miracles and motherhood—are just too hard to put into words. But I’m going to try.

So, here is the other side of the story…

Yes, You Lose Sleep, But Sometimes It’s Because “Reality Is Finally Better Than Your Dreams”

Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I’ve always loved this quote by Dr. Seuss: “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” I’m pretty sure I pinned it on my Pinterest quote board when I used to have time to do things like search for and pin random quotes for fun. I even had Seuss’s statement printed out and pinned to an actual bulletin board in my bedroom during my single-and-hoping-for-love days.

But it honestly never felt more true than the first night I spent with my son in my arms. After 35 hours of labor, an emergency C-section where I lost so much blood they put me on watch for a transfusion, and not having showered in literally days, I don’t think I could have felt any less ready to meet one of the loves of my life. The ambiance couldn’t have been worse: terrible lighting, sterile room, hospital staff interrupting our most precious first moments together (what feels like every 5 minutes) … but none of it mattered. I was in love. 

I had never been more tired in my life, but when that tiny little human with a full head of dark brown hair fell asleep on my chest, all I could do was stare at him. And that’s when this beloved quote popped into my mind like a lightbulb over a cartoon character—I get it now. 

Listen, I love sleep almost more than I like being awake. Hobbies: Sleep. Spare time? Nap. But, with my baby in my arms, who needs sleep when I can just drink him in and memorize every perfect feature?

It’s the most peculiar oxymoron of newborn motherhood: Desperately wanting sleep more than anything in the world and then choosing not to sleep when that baby dozes off because you cannot seem to look away even if you try.

Moral of the story: Moms are crazy. Crazy in love. 

Yes, Kids Are Needy (Always Touching You and Talking at You), But That’s Because You’re Their Safe Place

Have you ever had someone who just made you feel safe? I was lucky to have a dad who would pull me into his chest, hug me, and hold me whenever I was afraid or anxious—even when I was seemingly far too old for that. To this day, I can close my eyes and hear his rhythmic heartbeat that would always steady my own. I can feel the clenched fist around my chest loosen and my heart swell with the wonderful weight of peace as I recall that “safe feeling.”

Maybe your “safe place” was someone other than a parent, or maybe it’s the person you love now. But, you know the feeling, right? When, no matter what is going on around you, if that person is near, you just know everything will be alright.

Yes, I am lucky to know this feeling that’s so hard to describe. But what I did not know until I had my own kids, was that it’s equally as wonderful to be that person for someone else. Scratch that—it’s better

My blue-eyed, angel-looking toddler with doll-like ringlets (who’s as spitfire as they come) wanted me to put her to bed instead of Daddy tonight. I wish I could say that I don’t find shameless satisfaction in being the first round draft pick, but I do. Even though she made me so angry I wanted to cry more than once today. When she said—well—commanded, really, “You rock me and read me my little gewl (girl) book,” I plopped down in that rocking chair and pulled her in tight. 

Why I Stopped Deep Cleaning My House to Start Enjoying My KidsEven though I had been dreaming about that magical moment of bedtime and having my wonderful, glorious me-time, it didn’t stop me from pulling out all the stops for her. I read that “little girl book,” page by page, stroking my sweetheart’s precious curly Q’s away from her face, stealing kisses between breaths. I put the book down and sang her favorite song, “Amazing Grace,” and felt my heart explode as she chimed in, projecting her little voice with gusto. I cherished every detail of these moments, knowing her rounded cheeks and mispronounced words won’t last forever.

Yeah, I missed out on 15 minutes of alone time for myself, but I couldn’t bear the thought of missing out on 15 minutes of the sweetest part of the day with her at this age.

Yes, Kids Make Messes and Break Stuff, But There’s Nothing Better Than Their Laughter in Your Home

Cue Taylor Swift’s song “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.” I swear she made this solely for the purpose of moms adding it to their Instagram stories along with their children wreaking havoc.

Anyway, the best TikTok I’ve seen in a long time is of a mom pretending to visit her child’s first home after they’ve grown up. She walks in the door, flings her shoes off in two different directions, goes to the cabinet, grabs a fist full of chips, dropping crumbs all over the floor before moving on to the living room where she wipes her flavor-coated fingers all over the couch and curtains. It’s amazing … because it is 100% accurate.

I honestly love that she shared it because I felt completely seen and validated in my current phase of life. I also realized that a little humor can go a long way. Is it annoying that we can’t keep anything nice? Yes. Is it anger-inducing to try and combat the destruction of things you like? Yes. Is it frustrating when my 4-year-old makes incessant high-pitched random noises that makes my eyebrow twitch? Yes. Is it amazing when they’re gone for a couple of hours and I can enjoy a quiet, clean home all to myself and feel like a sane human being again? Yes. 

But you know what else is strange? The first thing I say when my kids walk in the door is, “Hi! Did you have fun? I missed you so much!” And what’s even more strange is that I must really mean it because it just spills out of my mouth involuntarily as I reach to grab them for a hug.

No, I don’t like the fact that I have to sweep the floor and wipe down the table and counter after every meal and snack because they don’t understand the concept of a plate or sitting still while eating. But I wouldn’t trade anything for the family dinners we have around that scratched wooden table. I love when my son stops running around the island like a racetrack to ask me, very seriously, as if it’s been on his mind all day, “Mom, are flip flops sandals?” 

And when would I ever have a legitimate dance party, complete with Dollar Tree glow sticks and costumes, in my kitchen if there were no children around? Yet, we have them regularly, and I can’t even describe how deeply I fall in love with my husband as we bust out some interesting moves back and forth trying to one-up each other for the biggest laugh from our kids. 

Kids are loud, messy, and, honestly, kind of annoying at times—but they are so fun and hilarious. And they are the ones who fill my mind with memories that I know will make me smile for the rest of my life.

Having kids is better than having a beautiful home filled with perfect things. They fill your heart and life with ineffable treasures.

Yes, You Will Recognize Just How Selfish You Really Are, But You Will Also Witness Selflessness Rise Above

When I really think about it, you know what all of the memes point out, in sort of a “yikes!” kind of way? I’m pretty selfish. Just like my kids, I like things to go my way. I like things to be all about me and my preferences. I don’t want anyone touching my stuff, and if anything (aka my kids) get in the way of any of this—I kind of want to throw a tantrum myself. (And sometimes I do, if I’m totally honest.)

I know I’m not the first person to recognize the fact that having children will reveal just how selfish we can be. This is old news. However, what I’m discovering for myself as I walk through motherhood is the other side of the story, the thing we mom don’t seem to share enough about… 

Yes, children reveal the depths of our selfishness in various ways—but they also awaken a level of selflessness within us that would otherwise slumber. The selflessness of a mother is kind of breathtaking because it’s so contradictory to our selfish human nature. And anything that so starkly contrasts our bad parts is all the more astounding to behold. 

I had no idea I could endure that and come out alive, you might find yourself thinking as you look back on different ages and stages that felt unbearable in the moment. And why did you? 

Love. A love for someone else that is stronger than your innate love for your very self. How can you put that kind of love into words? It’s impossible.

So, moms… Yes, the motherhood memes are hilarious—please keep them coming. We all need a laugh. But what if we made an effort to show the other side of the story too? I think we could all use a little more magic and a whole lot more miracles.

Motherhood can be exhausting, but we don’t always have to focus on the bad stuff! Here’s where you should focus your energy instead: Rest Easy Moms, Here Are the Things That Matter – 102 

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