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The mental load of motherhood is what I didn’t fully expect

It’s no wonder we’re tired. We feel ALL THE THINGS, and it’s utterly exhausting.

The mental load of motherhood is what I didn’t fully expect

Did you ever guess you'd grow so tired your heart would physically ache?


I didn't.

Oh yes, I heard all the warnings and snide remarks that inevitably come the way of soon-to-be mothers in the days and months leading up to childbirth. “Enjoy your sleep while you still can," and “Oh, you think you're tired now? Just you wait!"

And looking back, if I'm honest, I did think I knew what it was to feel worn out before I had children. Then I had children.

This is not by any means to say women without kids are lazy—that's not true. Women are hard workers by nature, and we overextend ourselves in every aspect of life.

The thing about motherhood, though, is that it's a different kind of exhausting.


It's physically taxing, to be sure, and for some strange reason the guaranteed long hours don't promise any overtime pay. We're constantly on the go, helping the littles from one task to the next. We prepare the meals, do the laundry, clean the house, wipe the noses, bandage the boo-boos, run the errands, drive the carpools, break up the arguments and administer the discipline. It really can wear a girl out!

All of that is nothing, though, when compared to the emotional exhaustion moms battle day in and day out.

It's a level of weariness I truly knew nothing of until I had little ones, and it caught me completely off guard. I suddenly found that even when my body felt rested, my spirit was tired. So what gives?

Tonight I yelled at my son during dinner. Like, I legitimately scared him. “Oh my WORD, for the LOVE, would you quit goofing off during supper time?" He's 6, mind you. A 6-year-old acting like a... 6-year-old does. And I am shocked by that behavior because why?

I can't stop thinking about my son, and how I hurt his heart in that moment. The more I think about it, the more it shreds me inside—and I want a do-over, but we all know there's no such thing as a do-over. Once the words escape, they're gone for good, and all that's left is my regret, which leaves me feeling… tired.

My love for my kids, my care for their souls and contentment and wellbeing, exhausts me. It's hard work loving tiny humans that much, because it means you have to care. You have to want to care.

From the Shop

For the mama that just needs a break.


It's crazy the power these little people have over us as mamas. When they're sad, we bear their sadness. When they hurt, we hurt. When they're angry, we feel a bit of the venom coursing through our own veins. When they're embarrassed we want to cover their shame, and when they're teased, well... we want to take out some mean kids, Towanda-style. (I desperately hope you just pictured Kathy Bates losing her ever-loving mind the way we all wish we could; if not, watch this.)

When our children are happy, there's a lightness to our steps. When they're laughing, we giggle along. When they're confident, we stand ourselves up a little taller. When they display wisdom, we marvel at their maturity and growth.

When they're deceptive, we worry about the state of their hearts. When they disrespect us, we put on our big-girl pants and dish out the consequences, all the while silently aching like we've been sliced clean through the gut. When they make decisions we know are contrary to what's best for them, we grieve.

It's no wonder we're tired. We feel ALL THE THINGS, and it's utterly exhausting.

When your son can't make it through the day at his middle school without being bullied, and your heart aches for him.

Tired.

When you know your 17-year-old daughter lied to you about where she was and who she was with on Friday night, and you're scared to death about the direction she's headed in.

Tired.

When you're in the thick of the early years and you know you love your itty-bitty to her core, but her colicky self is about to make you grab your cut-and- run bag and make a break for it, maybe all the way to sunny California.

Tired.

When your teenage son takes a girl on a date for the first time, and you smile at the puppy eyes he can't conceal while at the same time begging God to help him remember everything you've taught him in preparation for this day.

Tired.

After all, when half of your heart is living outside your body, it's an exhausting thing

So, my dear mama, don't ever apologize for being tired. Ever.

Instead, take a nap when you need one. Sit down and kick your feet up for a bit, and maybe play a round or two of your favorite mindless game on your phone. Get a massage. Go to bed early, and leave the dishes for the morning (trust me, they're not going anywhere). Slow your roll and take a minute to breathe, letting your love wear you out, in the best and worst ways.

One day you won't be so tired anymore, and you might wonder what happened to the time.

True

As much as I love fall, it always feels like the season when my family's routine gets kicked into overdrive. With our oldest in (homeschool) kindergarten, my youngest on the brink of entering her twos, work, housework and *all the things* filling my day, it's hard not to feel a little overwhelmed sometimes. Did I mention we're still in a pandemic? (Yeah, it's a lot.) And while I try to take a positive view as much as I can, now more than ever I definitely jump at the chance to take anything off my busy plate.

One thing first in line at the chopping block? Cooking. To be fair, I like cooking. I cooked most of our meals long before I had ever even heard of social distancing. But there's something about the pandemic that suddenly made cooking every single meal feel exponentially more draining.

Enter Daily Harvest. They deliver nourishing, delicious food right to your door. Daily Harvest's mix of smoothies, bowls, flatbreads, snacks and more provide a balanced, whole food options that are as satisfying as they are nutritious. But my favorite part? When we're ready to eat, I simply pull the food from the freezer and it's ready in minutes—without any chopping, measuring or searching for a recipe. Even better, they're incredibly tasty, meaning I'm not struggling to get my girls to dig in. Not cooking has never felt so good.

Here are my 8 favorite products that are helping to lighten my load right now:

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

One thing that actually helps break up the monotony of quarantine? Trying and introducing new ingredients to my family. I love this overnight oat bowl (add milk the night before and let it set in your fridge overnight—easy-peasy!) because not only does it not compromise on nutrition, but it also helps me bring new whole fruits, vegetables and superfoods to the table with ease.

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

I kid you not, these taste exactly like a mint chocolate chip milkshake. (Just ask my 4-year-old, who is constantly stealing sips from my glass.) What she doesn't know? She's actually getting organic banana, spinach and chlorella with every sip. #momwin

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Our family's eating habits have been leaning more plant-forward this year, which often means a lot of veggie washing, peeling and chopping every time I cook. That's why these flatbreads are my new best friend come lunchtime. This Kabocha + Sage Flatbread is made with a gluten-free cauliflower crust topped with kabocha squash, fennel and sage for a taste of fall in every bite. (Missing the cheese? You can add it before baking for more of a pizza feel.)

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

There's something about the combination of sweet potato crust topped with red cabbage, organic greens and an herby-cilantro sauce that is so delicious… like surprisingly delicious. I polished off this bad boy in seconds! And unlike other "veggie" crusts I've tried, these are actually clean (AKA no fillers, preservations, partially-hydrogenated oil or artificial anything). Plus, it couldn't be easier to throw in the oven between conference calls and homeschool lessons.

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Any time I get to serve a breakfast that tastes like chocolate, it's a good day. (That goes double when it's *my* breakfast.) This rich, chocolatey smoothie is packed with organic zucchini, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pea protein for a nourishing mix of healthy fats and muscle-building protein so I can carry that baby all day long. And did I mention the chocolate?

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Maybe it's just me, but after a long week of cooking, the last thing I want to do on Saturday morning is...wake up and cook. That's why these one-step breakfasts are saving my weekend. I simply add our favorite milk the night before and store the bowl in the fridge overnight. Come morning, I have a nutritious chia bowl that powers me through even the busiest day of errands. It's also Instagram-ready, which makes me feel like I'm out brunching (even if I can't remember the last time I was in a restaurant).

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

My kids have turned into snack monsters during quarantine, and I'm often struggling to find a wholesome option (that doesn't require a lot of extra cooking or else I resort to something ultra-refined and shelf-stable). These bites are the hero I never knew I needed. For one, they taste like cookie dough, but they're actually packed with chickpeas, pumpkin, dates and flax seed (among other whole ingredients). But unlike actual cookie dough, I don't have to go anywhere near my mixer to whip them up—all I have to do is pull the container out of the freezer, let them defrost a bit and we can all enjoy a treat.

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Sometimes I have a little more time to cook, but I still want a quick, stress-free solution. (Especially because it always feels like I just cleaned up from the last meal.) I love these Harvest Bowls because they warm up in under five minutes on the stove top (or microwave!) but pack tons of flavor. The Cauliflower Rice + Pesto bowl is one of my favorites, with basil, olive oil and nutritional yeast for a hearty dish reminiscent of a mouth-watering Italian meal. When I'm feeling extra fancy, I add leftover grilled chicken or a fried egg.

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Who doesn't want to end the day with a little something sweet? This creamy and decadent frozen treat from Daily Harvest is swirled with sweet berries and tropical dragonfruit for an antioxidant burst you'll feel good about—but that your kiddos will just think is ice cream. Go ahead, take credit for being the best mom ever.

Want to try it yourself? You can get $25 off your first box of Daily Harvest with code MOTHERLY.

This article was sponsored by Daily Harvest. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Life

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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