Realistic Expectations for Motherhood

The Truth About Motherhood

I remember when I was the perfect mom, you know, before I had kids. It is so easy to say what kind of mom you will be before you have kids, but the truth is you have no idea and, honestly, it really hurts our experience as mothers when we have unrealistic expectations. Having unrealistic expectations brews resentment, disappointment, and self-hate, while we could just live in the truth of motherhood, the dirty, difficult, but absolutely beautiful in its own right, motherhood. I wrote this to share my experience as well as hopefully prepare future mamas for the reality that is motherhood so they don’t experience the unfortunate shift in reality a lot of us go through.

I think the most important point that we often do not consider before becoming mothers is that we cannot control who our child is. You can do everything “perfect”, but each child has their own personality, tendencies, ways of doing things, and own struggles. We forget that babies and toddlers are just little humans with their own personalities and ways of seeing the world. Regardless of what you do and how you parent, you may have a very “difficult” baby or you may have a very “easy” go with the flow baby. This is their personality (or temperament) and we don’t really have a say in it.

Along with their own different personalities comes different ways of dealing with things. While it helps to be knowledgeable about child development and behavior management, some kids are going to have tantrums. Some children have sensory processing disorders and get overwhelmed. Most toddlers will develop separation anxiety and stranger anxiety and, to a certain extent, this is completely normal. You can’t parent to prevent this. You can, however, parent to be supportive and consistent, but that’s another conversation.

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The other thing is the expectation that we will be super moms before we ever even become a parent. This false ideal of being a super mom creates terrible disappointment and mom burnout. Parenting is EXHAUSTING. It is the most mentally exhausting thing I have ever done (and I taught a room full of toddler for five years. Parenting is different. It is constant). There really is no break, even if someone gives you a break, you think of your child pretty much constantly. Becoming a mom changes everything. Do not expect to be the same productive person who does it all when you become a parent. Actually, don’t expect to be the same person at all. Your child will be your biggest teacher in life and you absolutely will change and that is okay, embrace it. While you eventually will get into your own groove as a parent, there is a huge adjustment. I thought I was going to be able to build my business, keep the house spotless, take care of my young crazy dogs, maintain a thriving marriage and be an amazing, ever-present mama. Oh boy, was I wrong. It took me about eighteen months to really settle into myself as a mother and figure out the balance of being myself and a mother as well as a part of society and that is also okay. We don’t have to figure anything out right away and I just wish someone would have told me that.

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25 Comments on “Realistic Expectations for Motherhood

  1. Maintaining realistic expectations during motherhood is so important! It’s key to less disappointment, frustration and comparison.

  2. I love your honesty in this post. I used to be the perfect mom too and my child was never going to act like THAT! Well I have THAT kid. You can’t control your child’s personality and you may have to change your parenting strategies. Great post!

  3. Oh gosh, yes! I find myself from time to time disappointed in myself for lashing out on my daughter or for letting her watch a little too much TV one day…but honestly I am doing the best I can, and some days are just better than others! It is SO important to give yourself grace as a parent.

    • Yes! I think all of us feel that way mama. I just try to reflect decide what I can do better and let go of the guilt for not being a perfect mama

  4. Love this post! I thought I was going to be super do it all Mom-to only feel like I was in an endless cycle. I had to change how I viewed motherhood, so I would be able to enjoy my little ones.

  5. Parenting is SO exhausting! I think it was good that I didn’t really have expectations going in!

  6. Oh how I needed this! It’s so true, we absolutely can not control who our children are. The sooner we learn this the easy our journey will be. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I love the advice of not needing to figure everything out right away. I have a 4.5 and 3 year old and still basically have no idea what I’m doing lol. Thanks for the comforting message!

  8. Totally agree, we all have massive dreams the minute we find out we’re pregnant…and then reality hits and its an even bigger blow because of how high up on a pedestal we were.

  9. Before I became a parent, I was one of those people who said that I’d never cosleep, I was going to make all my baby food and there were going to be lots of limits on screen time. Now that I’m a parent, things are not how I pictured. My daughter still ends up in my bed on a regular basis. I might have made my own baby food twice and my daughter has far too much screen time, but it’s the only way I can get things done. I’ve learned a lot over the past four years and what works on one day might not work the next. Thank you for your honesty. Parenting is amazing, but it’s not all fluff all the time.

  10. Motherhood was quite different then I thought it would be but in different ways then I expected. Having real expectations and not being too hard on yourself is huge!

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