The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth
Photography by Julia Garcia-Prat
Being a mom is hard. There, I said it. Many people look at my social media accounts and my photos and say, “Oh wow, what an easy life, she must have tons of help.” But the truth is, my family lives in another city and most help I get is once-a-week babysitting while I head out to my job for the day. No, he doesn’t go to daycare and yes, I am aware that I have a choice. Easy? Think again.
TRUTH 1 – You never take photos of the bad days
Let me paint a picture for you. Your son is sick with a 40-degree fever, and keeps crying. He doesn’t want to eat, sleep, play, run, read or even watch a cartoon. All he wants is you. Fast forward 12 hours and all you want is a tall glass of wine and some sleep, but what you get instead is: you get sick yourself.
So now imagine this: you’ve got a fever, you’re stuffing your face with Advil paired with DayQuil and washing that down with NeoCitran, drugging yourself just enough to be able to make it through the day. Yet you still need to take care of the little one, make food and clean up the toys scattered around the floor so you don’t fall and break your neck, remember to answer 10 work emails and load the dishwasher because you’ve ran out of clean spoons for the day. To top that off, you literally haven’t slept in 72 hours. And – you’re worried. You feel horrible physically and emotionally because the love of your life is suffering and there’s nothing you can do to make him feel better. Are you going to stop and take a photo for Instagram? I don’t think so.
TRUTH 2 – you can’t complain, ever
The moment you complain about anything, everyone is suddenly an expert in motherhood and points out everything that you are doing wrong. Therefore, the main problem you have is really yourself and your choices, so really you shouldn’t be complaining because you’re just complicating your own life. Everyone seems to suddenly forget that mothers, more than anyone, sometimes just need an ear and a helping hand. Instead of trying to find solutions for the person, you should understand that this person has already thought of every possible scenario and veto-ed everything that wasn’t an option.
Just stop for a second and think: did she ask me for a solution or is she just simply saying – I’m tired and I need to vent.
TRUTH 3 – people judge you in everything
It’s hard being a mom as it is, but it gets that much harder when every aspect of the choices you make is cross-examined under a microscope by others. They will question everything you do from which clothes you choose for your child to where you choose to place your Christmas tree in your house. They will criticize your child’s sleeping habits, your food choices for him, your screen-time allowance and discipline approaches. But it doesn’t stop there, because once they are done with badgering you about your child, they will head on to discussing the things you should be doing which would result in fixing everything in one second. Truth is: it’s not that easy folks. There isn’t a day that goes by where people aren’t shocked by the fact that I have not yet enrolled my son in daycare. When someone learns that he is still at home with me their first reaction tends to be: But why?!
Personally, I firmly believe that a child should not attend daycare before the age of 3, unless it is not feasible financially for the couple. However, if you have the financial means needed to abstain from sending your child to daycare before the age of 3, then what gives? After spending 6 years of my life studying psychology and child psychology at McGill University, I know that my approach is not whimsical nor psycho-mom obsessive, but I’ll leave the facts for another post. However, the main difference is, I do not ever judge others who choose to send their kids to daycare even at 6 months of age.
Everyone has a different story, a different life and their own hardships. They, and only they, would know what’s best for them and their family. So, if anything, I 100 per cent support them. Honestly, it’s even that much harder to send your kids to daycare and work full-time and then come back home, than be a stay-at-home mom who works part-time, so hat’s off to you, I’m right behind you.
TRUTH 4 – you’re not prepared for the changes
No matter how many pregnancy books you read, how much advice you receive, and how many movies you watch – you won’t be prepared for what’s to come. It’s not a bad nor a good thing, it’s just a shock to the system.
You adjust accordingly and you learn to be the badass-master-of-all-things-mom, but every now and then you reminisce about the times when life was, well, easy. I think the biggest shock of all to me was the lack of room for spontaneity. Being a very outgoing and always-moving type of person, I thrived on impulse and spontaneity. I loved waking up in the morning, having no plans and, literally, winging the day: going from yoga to lunch to even ending up in another city for the day. And now, every week is planned in advance. When I want to do something, I call and schedule it down to the minute – because if you don’t, then you’re screwed.
Every time I catch myself missing that aspect of my life, I remind myself that this is all temporary. Soon my son will go off to school, then college and then BAM: he will be married with his own kids and his own family. Life flies by in the blink of an eye, so instead of focusing on what I am missing, I focus on all the other beautiful things that I have in my life, at least up until before he becomes a teenager and starts driving me nuts.
TRUTH 5 – you do not give your man enough credit
A man will never be able to feel life growing inside of him, so if he’s not 200 per cent obsessed about your kid when he is first born, cut him some slack. To men, in all fairness, all kids are technically adopted. They may be theirs by blood, but biology is merely a factor that one must consider among millions of others. It takes time for a man to grow attached to their children but, once they do, it’s a love for life.
Women complain that men will never understand the pain of childbirth, periods, and how hard it is to be a woman. However, it’s really not their fault – it wasn’t them who chose to be a man, it was their XY-chromosome allocation.
Men experience other pressures: they have to watch the woman they love, suffer and cry while giving birth to their children; and seeing a person you love in pain is sometimes even worse than being the person in pain because there’s nothing you can do to help. Men have a responsibility to take care of their family, to teach this new person values and morals, to put up with you during your crazy-mood-swings all throughout pregnancy and post-partum. Their life changes drastically too.
Giving birth makes you a stronger person as a whole, so use that strength for compassion, love and understanding, and go through life as a team!