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Being a mom is hard.  

The endless messes to clean up. The sleepless nights and sticky fingers touching everywhere. The meal prep, the nap schedule, the tantrums, the kitchen sink overflowing with dishes . . . oh, the dishes.  

And then as they get older, there’s managing all the activities and the carpooling. The homework you can’t figure out. (Are you smarter than a 5th grader? The answer is no, no I’m not.)  

The endless to-do list and the pressure to always put someone else’s needs before your own. 

No doubt, it’s hard being a mom. But that is the obvious stuff. Surface-level. Let’s call all that the logistical requirements of motherhood.

What about the real truth about why it’s so hard being a mom?  

The reasons that keep you up at night. The reasons that make you want to cry. The deeper reasons you feel in the pit of your stomach. The real truths you can’t prepare for.

Being a mom is hard because it means living in a constant state of contradiction.  

This past weekend, I went to visit my sister for the weekend, sans hubby and kiddos.  I had been looking forward to some girl time and a mental break from all the stuff at home.  

RELATED: A Mother’s Mind Never Rests, Because We Carry The Mental Load

We had planned this many weeks ago, and I was really psyched for a couple of days on my own without anyone asking anything of me or expecting me to do anything other than what I felt like doing. Not having to take care of anyone else’s needs besides my own. Sounds nice, right?

Well, as the weekend leading up to the trip came closer, I started to feel really anxious about leaving my kids. They’re not babies, and I knew my husband had it covered, but just the thought of being away from them gave me butterflies in my stomach. When it came time to actually leave for the weekend, a big lump formed in my throat and my eyes brimmed over with tears as I kissed them goodbye. 

This is what I mean about living in a constant state of contradiction.

Snuggle up close so I can breathe in the warmth in the crook of your neck, but then please go play and leave mommy alone. 

Let me smooth your soft hair and kiss your chubby cheeks as you go off to school, and breathe a sigh of relief that the house will be quiet for the next six hours. 

No, I don’t want to play with you, I’d rather read my book, but the mere thought of the day you’ll eventually leave my house can instantly bring me to tears. 

I must teach you to be independent, but at the same time please, please don’t ever stop needing me.  

I’m so excited to watch you grow, but simultaneously wish you’d stay little forever.

Constant contradiction.

Being a mom is hard because it messes with your sense of self.

Do you know that whenever I take my kids to their pediatrician, the office staff calls me mom?

“Right this way, mom.”

”That will be a $20 co-pay today, mom”

”The doctor will see them now, mom.”

Is that all I am to the outside world now? MOM?

It’s so easy to lose your identity when you become a mother. After all, when we become moms, our lives completely change overnight. Suddenly, an overwhelming amount of your time is spent caring for someone else’s needs.  

Did you know that moms of preschoolers have to stop and take care of their child’s needs more than 200 times per day?

RELATED: I Fear I’ve Lost Myself To Motherhood

Furthermore, many areas of your life also change when you become a mother including your career goals, the amount of free time you have and how you spend it, your friendships and social life, your relationship with your spouse, not to mention how your body changes.

When so much of your life is impacted and consumed by motherhood, of course, you start questioning your self-identity.  

Questions like these are totally normal: Who am I now outside of being a mom? Why do things that once seemed so important to me now feel meaningless? What do I even like doing anymore? Motherhood messes with your sense of self, and it’s confusing.

Being a mom is hard because it makes you question yourself more than you ever imagined possible.

I’ve questioned and doubted myself a million times in the last decade of being a mom. Am I nurturing enough? Or does too much nurturing mean I’m coddling? Should I like playing with my kids? Is there something wrong with me if I don’t enjoy it? Does it mean I’m not getting involved enough in my kids’ schooling and education because I don’t want to be the class mom? Will my kids feel less loved or neglected if I go back to work?

We all jump into this motherhood thing without a clue, arms wide open, ready to take it on, and it’s so much harder than we could have ever prepared for.  

Seriously, what other job in the world is there where you are hired without any experience or training whatsoever to protect and guide the lives of others AND you’re expected to innately know how to perform your tasks at your best all day, every day, even when you’re sick?   

And please, remember to be grateful and cherish every moment because they grow up so quickly.

That’s motherhood. 

Being a mom is hard because it makes you feel inadequate.

The magnitude of your job as a mother is daunting if you let yourself think about it. There is nothing more important than this job, and there never will be.

Let’s be honest, the world we live in is a frightening place. I know there is no way I can adequately prepare my children for the messed-up world they are growing up in, and it leaves me feeling helpless. How do I prepare my children, the loves of my life, to live in a world that constantly changes, that every day feels more and more out of my grasp of understanding? It’s a feat that is greater than me. 

I can’t forever shield them from pain, hardship, and adversity, I know this. I can only equip them the best I know how, but my know-how is not infinite, and therefore, could never be enough. This is the part of motherhood that keeps me up at night.

RELATED: Motherhood is Everything All At Once

You cannot comprehend how and why motherhood is so hard until you actually experience it for yourself. And by complete contrast, it is absolutely impossible to imagine how incredibly gratifying and soul-changing it is at the same time. It’s one of those “if you know, you know” kinds of things.

Motherhood is all at once a crazy contradiction that leaves you questioning who you are and everything you ever were and will be. It means living with a gut-wrenching fear of messing up the only thing in the world that truly matters to you. And all the while feeling helpless in knowing that you absolutely will because being a mom is a superhuman feat and you are merely human.

Originally published on the author’s blog

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Carly Berger Nguyen

Carly is a wife, mom, and former fashion industry executive turned writer who is on a journey to live life as the best version of herself.  Through her website, https://littlevoicebigmatter.com/, she shares practical advice and heartfelt insights to inspire and support women in motherhood, relationships, wellness, and life.

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