It’s the middle of the night and the baby is awake again.

AGAIN.

It’s the third (maybe fourth?) time tonight (this morning?). I can’t think properly through the fog of exhaustion, so there’s really no way to be sure. I’ve read all the articles out there about snuggling my baby close in these wee hours, treasuring the moments they keep saying (and I already know) go by so fast.

I’ve seen the grainy, dimly-lit snapshots of mothers rocking babies against their beating hearts, blissful in the stillness of an otherwise sleeping house.

Full disclosure: I’ve both written and taken my fair share of those very things.

But you know what’s in my heart right now as the baby whines and arches in my arms in the dead of the night?

Anger.

There, I said it.

I’m angry at a 20-pound person who, at this moment, is both the best and worst thing about my life. What kind of mother does that make me? I’m supposed to be rocking her gently, humming soothing lullabies in her ear. I’m not supposed to be gritting my teeth and cursing at her under my breath as the clock marches on toward morning. And yet, here I am. Irritated. Feeling sorry for myself. Shamefully guilt-ridden over the fact I can’t just shake my head and clear away the fury.

But the longer I sit and seethe, the larger the sneaking suspicion of my overtired heart grows. Maybe—just maybe—feeling like this makes me the kind of mother who is exactly like every other mother at one point or another. Just because those posts and articles about rocking your sweet baby in the middle of the night are everywhere doesn’t mean there aren’t just as many mothers who could relay their own accounts of less than picture-perfect middles of the nights. We just don’t share them because . . . honestly, I’m not really sure why we don’t.

Maybe we’re afraid if we admit to not basking in the glow of every moment of motherhood someone will call child protective services.

Maybe we’re scared to show our faults to an audience of Facebook friends and real-life contemporaries who might be shocked to learn we don’t have it all as together as we make it look.

Maybe we’re terrified to admit to our own selves that motherhood isn’t always the beautiful thing the internet tells us it should be . . . that sometimes—some moments, some days, some seasons—it just flat out stinks.

And yeah, it can leave us simmering in anger at 3:27 a.m., wondering what in the world those other women (who’ve got to be just as tired as we are?!) are talking about. I don’t think that makes us ungrateful beasts unworthy of the blessings of motherhood. I think it makes us human.

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Carolyn Moore

Carolyn traded a career in local TV news for a gig as a stay-at-home mom, where the days are just as busy and the pay is only slightly worse. She lives in flyover country with her husband and four young kids, and occasionally writes about raising them at Assignment Mom