Let’s Assess What We’re Telling Young Women About Motherhood

It’s the time of year when college students across America are waking up on the floor, faces in books, crumbs of some sort of food stuck to our cheeks, and cold cups of half-finished coffee somewhere nearby. When the alarms go off, we are so, so confused, because first of all, where are we, and how did we get there? And if we don’t know where we are, how are we supposed to find our phones to shut off the alarms?

And then it’s a mad dash to manage to get oneself fully clothed. Dry shampoo and a ponytail, makeup if a girl is lucky, and a freshly brewed cup of coffee to go with us to last classes and exams. (Did you remember to turn off the coffee pot? It’d be just like you to forget that and end up burning down the whole dorm…)

So, in honor of this unique time of year, I posted a little photo that made me giggle.


And then I got a comment: “Haha, wait until you’re a mom.”


This is hardly the first time I’ve gotten that kind of comment. Anytime I post something about fatigue and/or yoga pants I get the same response.

“Wait until you have kids.”

“Wait until you have two kids under two.” (I would prefer not to…)

“Sounds like pregnancy to me lol.”

Most of my girl friends have been married for at least a year or two, so baby fever runs rampant through my Facebook feed. Pregnancy announcements. Gender reveals. Baby showers and baby pictures. And do I resent it? No. Everyone seems to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. Bliss. Good for them.

So why all the negative comments about motherhood?

I’m not quite 22. I’m in grad school. I’m single. I’m not really thinking about having kids right now. And while it’s a good thing, I guess, that I won’t be horribly shocked if my turn comes, I really don’t want to hear about anyone’s delivery. No seriously, please spare me.

I don’t want to hear about all the odd places in your house where your toddler smeared feces. I don’t want to hear anything about your child’s bowel movements, as a matter of fact.

I don’t want to hear about their sleep habits and how hard it’s been for you to adjust to sleeping when the baby sleeps. I don’t want to hear you complain about how you’ll never have a clean house again.

Furthermore, I really don’t want to listen to you go on and on complaining about the difficulties of motherhood, followed by, “Oh, but it’s wonderful! I wouldn’t trade it for the world!”

Really?! Is it?! Wouldn’t you?! I mean, seriously, you went on for 30 minutes being completely negative, and now you want me to believe that motherhood is the best thing ever? Actually, it sounds to me like you found marriage and family life to be seriously overrated.

So I say, “Wow, ok. So based on what you just said, I should probably never have kids. Because it sounds like I would completely hate child rearing.”

“Oh! Oh, no! It’s wonderful! It’s different when it’s your own kid! You can’t just not have kids! That’s so selfish!”

…Ok…is it though? Who am I being selfish toward, exactly? The husband I don’t have? The children that do not exist? My parents? (They just adopted a child under two, so I kinda feel like the pressure to give them grandkids is off for a while. And besides, they have other kids. My parents will be fine.) And how is it selfish to avoid having children if I don’t want them? It seems to me that it would be much more selfish to have kids I didn’t want. I seriously do not follow this logic at all.

My generation is getting married later and later. Having kids later and later. And, thus, obviously, having fewer kids. And is it any wonder? I mean, everyone has made marriage and kids just look and sound so amazing.

One of my closest friends has a one-year-old and another little one on the way. Obviously, motherhood is not all sunshine, and rainbows, and baby kisses. She is pretty open and honest about reality. But she isn’t gross about it. And she loves being a mom–it’s not just something she says. The way she goes about daily mom life makes it clear. Sure, she has rough days like anyone else, but I’ve never felt like she dwells on the negatives. I can’t remember a single “Wait until you’re a mom” comment from her. Which means she’s still an awesome person to hang out with.  And there are several other mom friends of mine from whom I don’t think I’ve seen a single negative post–just pictures of their cute kids.

In actuality, I’m not opposed to the idea of having kids someday. (You can all breathe a sigh of relief now.) I don’t care how people approach family planning or child rearing–that’s none of my business. Seriously, I do not want to know. And if it’s ever my turn, I’ll expect you to keep your nose out of my business as well.

All I’m trying to say is this: if you find motherhood wonderful and rewarding, don’t bring up every single negative (or just plain gross) aspect of motherhood in front of a younger woman, especially if she’s not made it to that stage of life yet. And don’t stop with “Oh, but motherhood is wonderful!” Tell us–show us–why.





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