The month after my baby pressed the ejection button from my wound, everyone wanted to know, “Do you like being a mom?” I guess people felt the need to ask because either they knew I was originally terrified of having a kid or because it’s the go-to question for new moms. Since no one had ever before inquired about how I felt about any of my other jobs, I didn’t know how to respond. Did my friends and family really want to know or was it like when you’re asked how you’re doing? Even on a bad day you can never share that you just got fired from your dream job, got kicked out of your apartment and that your boyfriend changed his FB status to single and tagged you in his new profile pic of him making out with your best friend. As much as these questions tempt you to sob like a baby, social etiquette deems it rude and discourteous to the poor blameless questioner. So for the first couple of months I expressed my feelings about being a mom carefully and respectfully by shaking my head with a restrained panicked smile while saying, “It’s crazy!” Though my friends and family never called Child Protective Services, it was clear that my vague answer killed more than one inner party and landed us all in silent Awkwardland.
Although no one explicitly tells a new mom how she’s supposed to be, there is a certain understanding conveyed through magazines, the way people smile and congratulate you for having a child and the lack of Complaint Boxes gifted at baby showers. Unlike most jobs that consider collective bitching as a healthy way to bond with coworkers, the unpaid and most times lonely mom has to say how great her job is with a smile not seen since her naïve maternity photos. She must not only like getting drooled, peed and pooped on, she must say about being a mom, as I heard one woman squeal out during a Mommy & Me Yoga Class, “I LOVE IT! IT’S BETTER THAN WORKING!”
But I disagree. It can’t be better than working because it is working for long periods of time with no happy hours available when you get off. I just can’t fake my love for the position like so many glowing moms because I’m not crazy. The job itself sucks, no doubt about it: minimal sleep, breast infections, diminishing mental aptitude, loss of hearing and the vanishing ability to stay up past 9pm or move around the house at a regular noise-making speed. How can anyone like being a mom? How can anyone like being a parent? Unless you were in a bad relationship to begin with, wasn’t life better before having a baby? In some ways yes and in some ways you can’t compare.
I really wanted to be grumpier about parenting, or at least be hardened by it and not give into the gush, but being a new human’s caretaker, for being as hard as it is, is surprisingly really fun! Like carnivals! There is nothing greater than seeing your kid trying to walk around, getting spun about, greeting you with too much cuteness standing in his crib and laughing the whole day between a few cranky spells before nap time. Plus, introducing him to the world is like living out one of those movies where a time traveller from the past ends up in our time and you get to host and watch as he gets scared, delighted and confused by everything around him. Sure I may be missing out on going out with my husband whenever we want to see a movie or go to a club with friends, but now we do things we never did before because we have to educate our little guy on what the world has to offer. I even have a slight tan for once from being outdoors so much!
This is why “Do you like being a mom?” should be banned from the general parenting conversation. The job itself is much too complicated for such a simple question. No I don’t like being a mom, but I love being my son’s mother and more importantly, I love him and would never go back to not having him. Sure the job could be easier and I could handle a few nannies here and there, but strangely it’s the tough parts of the ride that help me bond with him and make my love for him grow. It’s like why Christie Brinkley married that one guy after a helicopter crash. What I’m saying is, who cares if you like the job or not–as long as you try to do it well and love who you’re working with and for, that’s all that matters.
- The Mother Says Having Children Biggest Regret (dailymail.co.uk)