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Sometimes I feel like a terrible mother.

October 10, 2018

I used to be an elementary school teacher and ed-tech consultant; now I'm a mom of twins and aspiring children's book author.

This blog is a place for me to write about personal life experiences, gleanings from books I've recently read, past and current DIY projects, and reflective thoughts that need a home outside my heart. Here at HeartEyes, I am opening my heart and eyes to yet another new chapter of my life, and my hope is that by joining me here, your heart and eyes would be opened to a more thoughtful and intentional life.

Hi, i'm tiff!

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“How are you enjoying motherhood?”

Ah. One of my favorite questions that pretty much every first-time mother gets asked at some point. I love this question because I love watching people’s expressions when I respond with the following:

“It sucks and I hate it.”

Whether it is someone who has children or not, the expressions from male or female are mostly the same: shock and uncomfortable laughter.

On rare occasions, I get an excited response of, “That is so refreshing to hear!”

But I think there is a fundamental problem here.

The shock and uncomfortable laughter that results from an answer like mine tells me that people generally expect all mothers to be happy and enjoy being a mom.

This is what society projects, and when you express that your experience does not match this, many people don’t know how to respond.

I’ve experienced that when someone responds in a shocked way to my not enjoying motherhood, it automatically makes me feel like something is wrong with me because I’m not enjoying it like society says I should.

When someone doesn’t know what to say or stops talking to me altogether because I am not enjoying motherhood, there’s a subconscious pressure to try to make myself enjoy it and when I don’t, I feel like a terrible mother.

But seriously.

Do people really expect moms to enjoy constant screaming, crying, whining, and clinginess while babies are teething, for example?

Do people really expect moms to enjoy the most intense levels of sleep deprivation ever experienced?

Do people really expect moms to enjoy having cracked/bleeding nipples, clogged ducts, or a painful infection from breastfeeding?

Do people really expect moms to enjoy watching their kids not eat but rather throw food that was so carefully prepared, all over the ground?

Do people really expect moms to enjoy cleaning babies’ poop explosions out of carpets/clothing/carseats/you-name-it?

Why do people always ask how us moms are enjoying motherhood anyway? What is even the point of the question? I’ve never minded people asking me anything they’d like to know, but what are they hoping to achieve with the responses they receive?

If they are ready to provide empathy and support with this particular question, then by all means ask away. If not, however, then maybe don’t ask, because my answer will likely range from “it sucks” to “I hate it” and I don’t need to feel even more like a terrible mother than I already do.

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  1. Esther says:

    Tiff! I’m glad that you’re honest, as it makes the whole thing less taboo. I currently don’t want children.. my fear of them is greater than any desire for them which is strange when so many women are dying to have children.. and yeah it’s weird saying that but I’m becoming more comfortable with where I am.

    Ok so I’m not trying to give advice here hope it doesn’t come off that way — The eating thing and throwing food… I saw this the other day.. she says it’s easier and the babies hardly throw food this way.. no idea if it would work but I think it’d be super cool if you experimented and reported back the results! 😛 https://www.janetlansbury.com/2010/01/baby-table-manners/

    • Tiffany Chan says:

      I think it’s great that you’re becoming more comfortable with where you are. It’s not easy to be that way.

      As far as the eating thing and throwing food, I’ve been thinking about how to try it! Will definitely report back results when I do try it. Thank you for the suggestion! =)

  2. csirp says:

    Yasssssss! Preach!!

    In considerating your post though, I think that the pressure to make small talk is what drives those particularly inane questions. And I think that most people just expect an answer similar to the question of “how’s it going?”. If we were to really answer that question whether with kids or not, most people would be scrambling to give a response.

    I appreciate your post though. It makes me think outside of the potentially awkward situation as to how to change either how I ask or how I respond. So thanks!

  3. ELK says:

    That’s the exact same answer I always want to give, but I’ve never had the courage to do so outright… It’s definitely exactly what I’m thinking in my head though *sigh*…

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Everything from my birth story to postpartum anxiety and depression, from c-section recovery to mom guilt and judgment. Prepare for raw and emotional posts!


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Gleanings from books I've read and podcasts I've been impressed with, with the occasional children's book recommendations!


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DIY project tutorials from six years of projects in my home! Very much a work in progress, migrating tutorials from my Instagram page to my blog!


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