The Darker Side of Motherhood

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It’s no secret being a mom is hard. I think it once was a secret, but it isn’t any longer. Too many of us blabbing about it on the internet. I knew before kids it would be, but It’s a different kind of hard than I expected. Mothering is a paradoxical life event. An ability I was born with. A biological and worldly life calling I never doubted. It’s a weight though. A heavy life-altering load. It changes your identity, It consumes you in every way.

I have two kids. They are my everything. My oldest, Johnny, is five and on the autism spectrum. Something I wasn’t prepared for. I’m consistently trying to learn and grow, but it’s hard. There is no guide book given to the parent of any child, but especially a child with autism. We have a lot of ups and downs.

Everything in our life is off the beaten path. It’s hard to explain, but we have days, and sometimes weeks, where Johnny is more engaged and aware. He is still autistic and himself but it’s like he is with us more. He has more gains and wins. I’m not going to lie, it’s easier. It’s the time of hope and payoffs to all the hard work.

The other times that my husband and I usually compare with babies “Wonder Weeks”, he’s grumpier, temperamental, and sensitive. These weeks bad behaviors like spitting, screaming, meltdowns, rough nights, etc. become the norm. During these times I feel down, lost, and discouraged. The older he gets, the back and forth between these times get harder.

I should expect the roller coaster, but I always hope they will level out, and hopefully with us on top. On the hard days, I try to stay positive but doubt and worry swarm my mind. This week, it’s very hard. It’s hard not to internalize your child yelling at you, hurting you, and hurting himself. The worst is how I don’t know how to make it better for him. I don’t know why or what is causing it.

When you have a child you take on the responsibility for their life. It’s your job to raise, protect, and teach them. I’m trying my hardest to do those things but it wears on me. Right now it feels like I’m talking at the wall. Like teaching is off the table. It’s pure protection, planning, and defense. I need breaks from my child sometimes. Not in the cute hiding in the bathroom eating a candy bar way, but in the crying into my pillow wishing I had more endurance and patience way. A way that hurts my soul that makes me feel wrong.

I don’t know what I thought motherhood would be. I’ve taken on an enormous task I knew wouldn’t be easy, but I didn’t quite understand the effects. I don’t feel like my child needs to change or fit, but more like I’m the one that doesn’t fit. I should be strong and endure. I should be able to do what needs to be done. I should be able to stay calm in the storm. I do those things 90% of the time, but it takes a toll. Some days it breaks me a little bit. It’s my darkness, but luckily I know it will go. I’ll go for a walk and I will recenter myself and get back to it because I’m the mom and I love my kid.

This post originally appeared on Johnny's Spirit.