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Kamren on struggling to find joy when she became a mother for the first time

mom taking a picture with her son - first time mom essay

Content warning: Discussion of postpartum depression, birth trauma, domestic abuse or other tough topics ahead. If you or someone you know is struggling with a postpartum mental health challenge, including postpartum depression or anxiety, call 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS (tel:18009435746)—The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline This free, confidential service provides access to trained counselors and resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in English, Spanish, and more than 60 other languages. They can offer support and information related to before, during, and after pregnancy.

“The joys of motherhood”

What joy though?

I’m a first time single mom. I turned 23 with a 2 1/2 month old little boy. Some days I feel like I’ve become really good at this mom thing. Some days I feel like I’m struggling to stay above water. Most days I’m somewhere floating on the surface though. Yes I love my son—he has purified my perspective on life and awakened this instinct in me to be better in almost every way.

But I don’t find joy in the fact I haven’t slept a decent night’s sleep in almost half a year. HALF A YEAR. I don’t find joy in racking my brain to find new ways to entertain a teething baby. I don’t find joy in being too tired by the time he’s asleep and the fact that I haven’t properly washed my face in months.

Related: This is what moms get wrong about self-care, according to a therapist

I don’t find joy in being so sleep-deprived I could fall over at the sink washing bottles before bed because if there aren’t at least a few clean I get anxiety because that means an ever rougher night. I don’t find joy in the disconnected friendships and relationships I have because it’s too hard to make plans with me because I struggle to find a sitter. I don’t find joy in the drive home from work and wishing I didn’t have to go home just yet.

Yes the moments are precious. But I really don’t feel like being a mom is FUN. And when I see that innocent sleeping face I feel like a monster for wishing I had my old life.

What JOY is it to always live in a world of constantly feeling conflicted? Guilt, then longing to be away. Then guilt. Then longing. Repeat.

Related: Mom Guilt is a symptom of a much deeper problem

Lately I’ve been fantasizing about the days when he’s a bit older. Where he can somewhat entertain himself. Where I can give him chicken nuggets and entertain him with cartoons.

Because I am a single mom, my mother is my biggest help. She watches my son while I go to work full-time Monday – Friday. She is my biggest help, but also my biggest shamer. She told me, “I wish you would stop saying you wish you could do something for yourself. I mean, you go to work and go to the store. When I had you and your brother I never wanted to be away from you guys.”

As if our differences make me any less of a mom. As if my need for freedom make me any less of a woman.

Related: To the working mamas who feel like they’re failing every. single. day

I wish she would remember that I am still her daughter. I have needs that need to be met too. I want her to ask me if I’m doing OK. I don’t think she has checked on me mentally since I gave birth. I wish she would understand that I want my son to grow up knowing his mother is happy and mentally sound. And if that means taking a little more time away from him for myself than she did, then so be it.

I wish more than that, that people would stop hyping up motherhood to be this vacation, dreamy wonderland. I wish more people were honest and open about how not so fun it can be. How raw, demanding, lonely, frustrating, exhausting it is.

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