I had a conversation with a friend that left such a deep impression on me, I am still thinking about it weeks later. We have been close friends for more than a decade, and as is the case in our friendship, vulnerability happens while we’re sharing a meal and talking about everything from the mundane to life-altering decisions. In a passing comment, my friend shared how she has observed more than a handful of moms talk about motherhood in a way that makes her question if it is even worth it. She feels the complaining that the moms in her life do far outweighs them sharing why they are grateful they have children. She struggles to reconcile this reality with the fact that all of these friends intentionally chose to have children.
While I believe all moms experience gratitude for their children, I wonder if, in today’s world of trying to be more authentic about motherhood, we have become quite used to each other’s complaining and less likely to share our gratitude. There is value in being able to express how we are feeling in the midst of the hard moments of motherhood, and I wonder if we can be more mindful about how and when we do this. Could some of it even be interrupted by cultivating more gratitude? I do not think my friend is alone in hearing more complaining than gratitude from moms.
If, for example, we always feel the need to blast the hard moments via a Facebook status, could we stop and consider why. Are we looking to be pitied from as many people as possible when we really need to connect and feel validated privately by one or two close friends? Or maybe even a therapist?
Are we sluggishly and sloppily walking into group settings seeking to be consoled by everyone about how hard we have it when we need to ask for more help from our partner, our parents, and/or friends?
Are we feeling so disconnected and judged as a mom that we’ll say whatever we think will help us fit in, whether in-person or online, even if it means bashing our child?
Are we struggling with self-doubt about how we’re mothering and using complaining as a way to try to connect with other moms?
Are we miserable and think it is helpful to take joy from pregnant women and new moms by telling them to “just wait for _____[the next terrible stage]”?
Do we need to stop, take a few deep breaths, and specifically think about why we are grateful for our children every day, especially on the difficult days? Taking time to cultivate gratitude even has scientifically proven benefits!
Or maybe moms of today are not actually complaining more, it is just more visible because so much of our lives can be recorded on social media. Maybe some even use social media as their highlight reel and then struggle to find appropriate ways to express how they are feeling about their current parenting challenges.