Motherhood Reality Check: It’s Hard! and I’m Improving

It’s time for a reality check.

It seems with every transition (end of school, summer break, back to school, holidays), we moms have to reconfigure life and reevaluate where we are and where we hope to be. At least, that’s what I do, and I’ve found it helpful to stop for a moment and “get real” with myself during these times. It’s hard to reconfigure and reevaluate all the time, but it’s the process that ultimately leads us to the kind of motherhood “success” we each desire, after all.

As I’ve been on “tour” talking with moms across the US about my forthcoming book, “Mastery Of Motherhood,” I’ve been extra-aware of my own mom reality. Hearing other moms share their thoughts, stresses, worries, fears, and realities about their motherhood experiences has reminded me, once again, that we’re not so different, we moms. We share the same burdens and rejoice in the same joys.

Today, I thought I’d share a few of my “reality checks” in hopes you can relate. Perhaps it might show you some aspect of motherhood you haven’t considered before. Perhaps it might simply remind you you’re not alone. Hopefully, it will show you you’re doing better than you think.

Summer vacation in Oceanside, with a few of my kids. I love vacations!


Motherhood Reality: It’s hard! AND I’m Improving!

The following 5 truths are my current “mom reality.”

1) My kids/family/home are my greatest stressors.

I know. This shouldn’t be an epiphany to me. I should know this, should have always known this, right? But I haven’t! This epiphany came last year and was a true “aha!” moment: “My kids and husband and home responsibilities are my greatest stressor? What?! Hmm. Yeah. That makes sense!” I’m superb at helping others see clearly, but apparently not very quick with should-be-obvious realizations when they apply to myself.

I always told myself other things could account for my stress and burnout, but not my precious home and family. Why not? Because, I now admit, admitting this would make me feel like a “bad” mom/wife. So not true. I’d always thought it was my work responsibilities that made life stressful, like if I could just choose not to help others or do what I do for work I’d be without the tremendous stress I so often feel. Not so. And realizing the reality that my family is stressful doesn’t make me a bad mom. It makes me a normal mom!

Now I freely admit it, shouting from top of my computer monitor, “MY KIDS AND HOME AND HUSBAND ARE MY GREATEST STRESSORS!” And you know what else? I love them anyway. I accept this challenge of being a mom every day when I wake up and do it all over again, and I love that I get to choose over and over again to embrace the stress and mess and let it be, for that’s what motherhood is.

This is reality, and it’s hard, and never-ending, and messy, and makes me crazy and exhausted and burned out. And that is my “normal.” It’s the normal of every mom, isn’t it? AND it’s crazy, beautiful, full, overflowing, abundant life. This is life, and I am grateful.

The whole fam, at our 3rd son’s graduation, May 2017. “May-hem” (as I call it) is SO stressful, but it’s all worth it for memories like these!

2) Being “Mom” IS exhausting AND never-ending.

Every mom knows this, or will know this someday. I’ll say it again, “It’s HARD! It’s STRESSFUL!” Being a mother is the most exhausting work on the planet, I am sure, because it’s 24/7, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and then some! There may be fragmented breaks here and there, but most of the time moms are on call, go-go, busy, busy, and just plain worn-out.

The truth is we moms not only have the physical responsibilities for feeding and bathing and clothing our children; we have the emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual responsibility for them. Lately, there have been a lot of emotions running high in our home (with 5 adolescents and one that thinks she’s a teen, it’s easy to see why). It’s all I can do to collapse into bed at the end of a very long bedtime routine (because that’s when teens actually want to talk–at night, right before bed), having listened to each child’s problems and tried to offer the best advice and support and love, only to sleep a few hours and wake up at 5:30 or 6 to start it all over again. It’s exhausting! But again, it’s worth it, right? Otherwise, we wouldn’t do all we do.

If we can simply admit, “It’s exhausting and never-ending,” we won’t be fighting ourselves trying to pretend it’s something that it’s not. Doing so has helped me tremendously over the years–to feel less overwhelmed and to take more breaks, naps, and even to get away when I can, because I know it will replenish me, at least for a time, before I come back and wear myself out all over again.

Loving my baby, but exhausted. This is reality.

3) “Being mom” can be incredibly boring.

There, I said it. I feel bored “being mom,” more often than I should.

When they were little and I was a stay-at-home mom, it was hardest for sure. I did my best to do crafts and play toys or go to the park or Target—you know, all the things we moms do to entertain the kids (but really ourselves) when they’re young. But I’ve never been the best “play on the floor with my kids” mom, and it was a struggle.

Now, I’m usually just trying to keep up with my family, but in the summer especially, and even some school day afternoons when I’m home and my kids are busy doing what they’re doing, I feel bored. Allow me to rephrase that: I feel like I’m always waiting, and that, to me, is incredibly boring.

I’m waiting to know everyone’s schedules so I can fit myself in. I’m waiting for the older ones to get home so we can attempt a family dinner. I’m waiting for the youngest to come in begging for a friend to play, or for that friend to get picked up, or for my husband to get home, or etc, etc, etc. Waiting. Boring.

It’s the worst in the summer, when they’re all home and they’re bored, and I feel like I can’t start anything or do anything for myself because inevitably the moment I begin, someone will come in and “Mom, I’m bored,” or “Mom, I need a ride,” or “Mom, can I…?” or “Mom, what should I do?” So, I feel lazy and unproductive and like I’ve “given up” in the summer, because in a way I have so I don’t get frustrated being “interrupted” every 15 minutes.

But in a way, I’ve also reminded myself that I can use a little “bored” down time, just as my kids can. My go-to response for my kids’ “I’m bored-s” is, “Good! I’m glad you’re bored. It’s good for you. It means you have the opportunity to figure some things out for yourself!” The same applies to me.

I learned last year, coping with a very long concussion recovery, that I need more down time than I allow myself, and that it really is good to feel “bored” sometimes. I admit, I used to judge other moms and say, “That mom is bored? Must be nice! I don’t have time to be bored!” Now, I repent: “Forgive me, moms everywhere for my judgmental ways!”

Motherhood inherently includes some “boredom,” and that’s just the way it is. It’s okay to feel bored. Especially if we can use it to rest, relax, nap, or get creative and actually turn our boredom into some new experience or memorable memory.

Motherhood is hard, but on the whole, oh how beautiful! A favorite moment recently, my son getting his mission call to FIJI!

4) It’s easy to get completely burned out “being mom,” and it’s up to us to prevent this by prioritizing self-care.

The past year or two, I’ve been feeling really burned out, mom-wise. My husband has been feeling the same. We’ve been at this parenting thing now for just about 21 years! I now have three who’ve graduated from high school, and it’s hard in a different way to send them off into their futures, but once they’re off I always realize, “Hey, wait. I’m not done. I still have 3 at home!”

Parenting and mothering is forever, and that’s a fact. It can feel easier in some seasons of motherhood than others, but it’s relentless on the whole. That’s why it’s crucial we watch out for signs of burnout so we can prevent or relieve ourselves from such a state.

Over the years, I’ve become progressively better at recognizing when I’m getting burned out and preventing it. I can tell, when I’m way too tired, always feeling overwhelmed, constantly thinking, “I can’t handle this,” and/or saying things like, “You kids are driving me crazy!” that I’m either on the road to burnout, or I’ve already arrived. I’ve had to practice and learn how to stop. How to check in with myself and answer honestly. How to fulfill my needs and practice self-care, for, I have learned, self-care is a form of self-love, and self-love is crucial to fully loving others.

How can you tell if you’re burned out? Some simple questions to start: “Am I getting a relatively “normal” night of sleep most nights?” “Am I feeling emotionally ‘well’? Or am I struggling emotionally?” “Am I practicing self-care?” “Am I regularly feeling overwhelmed, stressed to my limits, completely exhausted, like I desperately need a break, and/or feeling like I just don’t want to be here?” All of these questions can help you determine if you might be getting to the level of burnout. If you find you are close or already there, then it’s crucial to stop and practice self-care immediately, today, right now! Here are some simple ways to begin practicing self-care, today.

5) I’m way too hard on myself, and most moms are, too.

Over the years, as I’ve counseled and spoken to moms, and as I’ve been doing this “Mastery Of Motherhood” tour lately, the same issue keeps coming up, clearly: We moms are harder on ourselves than anyone could ever be on us, or on themselves.

Why? Because we care. A lot. We are doing the most important work of all, and we want to do it “right.” We want our children to grow up to succeed, to feel loved, to become all we see in them! But, in case you haven’t gotten this point yet, it’s hard being Mom! It’s truly the hardest work on the earth.

We are tireless in our efforts to guide, save, advise, teach, learn from, and love our children. It is endlessly demanding when they are little. We have so little control as they get older. Our hearts break for them over and over. We lose sleep, our minds race with worried thoughts.

And I’m no exception. It’s something I have to work on every single day. Forgiving my flaws. Letting go of the blame baggage and guilt trips. Reminding myself I’m truly working my hardest to do my very best; AND my best isn’t always going to be perfect, or sometimes even good enough, for my children, but that’s okay, because that’s just the way it is. Forgiveness—of them, of myself, from them, from myself, from God—is the only way to master motherhood, and ourselves, in the end.

You can do this, too. Forgive yourself for all you feel you haven’t done “right,” and commit to simply do your best–today, each day, moment by moment. Take time to discover your current “motherhood reality check,” and then go easy on yourself. See how far you have come, how much you have learned. You really are doing so much better than you think.




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About Dr. Christina Hibbert

Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. She really hopes you’ll join the Personal Growth Group and choose to grow together!

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