Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

Forget You!

You’ve heard them. You may even be one of them. Without a whole lot of whining you dare to vent a tiny little fact related to how challenging your life has become with your (now seven months old) little bundle of joy, and Super Mom smiles and replies: “But they [children] are worth it”. Personally, I want to punch this woman in the face. Instead, I reply “Are they?”, and I quickly dismiss it with a laugh and an of course they are. And yes, of course children are worth it… As long as they don’t eat me alive.

During the last months I’ve gone through all kinds of feelings about motherhood. I’ve been deep down in the hole, and then up in the clouds giggling and playing with my tiny terror. All those times I have wanted to type my heart out on this site, and I’ve held my hand for fear. A huge tremendous fear of being judged. And worse: Being judged by my own. But you know what? I’m kind of tired of that. If you’re going to judge me, then, forget you Super Mom… and Super Dad (as if a full-time working dad could, really).

My beautiful baby is now crawling, and pulling himself up, and bumping his head and bottom many times a day. He follows me around wherever I go. I can’t go quick to the kitchen to get a glass of water without having to interrupt this tiny “me” thing to go and protect him from falling on the kitchen floor, or hurt himself with the bouncy seat he always finds on his way to the kitchen. No longer can I do anything else while Joaquin is awake, other than chase his butt and watch him play. And of course, he doesn’t tolerate even one minute in the playpen. This, more than breastfeeding… more than sleep deprivation… more than c–section recovery… more than almost anything in the world, is a slow cruel death for me.

Go ahead: Tell me I shouldn’t want anything else but take care my child… Tell me it will only last so much… Tell me that you would trade all your problems and take care of my baby instead… Tell me that I shouldn’t have had a baby… Tell me anything that won’t sound like you understand me, and I’ll slap you. I also prefer being with my baby than having your problems, but loving my child has NOTHING to do with the fact that I also have needs beyond a shower and a meal, and I must draw the line somewhere. Or I’ll die.

This week, after numerous neglected invitations, I finally joined Facebook. Within two hours I had already connected with two old friends from high school. That same night I chatted with one of them. The 30something–year–old version of her was even cooler than what I remembered. She asked me bluntly how I felt about my new life as a mom, and I told her the truth… This week’s truth. She has a three–year–old little boy, and we engaged in a wonderfully refreshing conversation where I didn’t feel like a heartless villain. Instead, I felt validated in my need to keep my dreams alive, and do whatever I can to steal a little time for myself.

This is the kind of moms I would love to be surrounded by. Moms who are not afraid to admit that this is the toughest job on earth… That a few times they feel they can’t wait to get out. Women like me, very far away from the “Super Mom” model. Flesh and bones, with dreams, and the cojones to draw the line a little closer to ourselves while still loving our children.

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  1. On , KSR wrote:

    RIGHT ( and WRITE) on!!!!!
    The world needs women with cajones to speak the truth and not be threatened by it… makes better moms…..

  2. On , Maria wrote:

    Thank you Kim. I love you!

  3. On , Petie wrote:

    I know where you are coming from. I had similar feelings during Joelle’s milestone movements; however, it has been different with Elise. This is why second children are so different when they grow up.

    Anyway, have you considered finding a mother’s day out in your area for next year? Elise will be going two days a week, 9-2. I love my baby and I have loved having her home with me full-time since her birth, but I am very excited about “school” with her in the fall! Nana had me in mother’s day out at 6 months…. seriously, check it out. ;)

  4. On , Maria wrote:

    A mother’s day out program sounds wonderful. I’ll look into it. I’ve also thought that spending some time with somebody different than me would be beneficial to Joaquin. New games, different energy, etc.

    Right now, my “day” out is provided by Joey, and he’s busy and will still be after the bar. So we know that we need help. I’ve also heard about church programs. I have to check them out. My only fear is that in order to have it, I have to join the church. Don’t really want that. And in Utah, everything is LDS, and I’m not sure if they’d provide the service to a non-LDS person. Who knows…

  5. On , KSR wrote:

    the nice thing about mother’s day out is that it’s great for EVERYONE!….mom gets some time to work, do errands, do NOTHING AT ALL, play, read…meet a friend for lunch or coffee…
    ..whatever……without worrying…..and baby learns that it is possible to survive without mom and that mom can and does go away and she comes back!
    Many churches offer mom’s day out….these are usually staffed by very caring people…many times, especially with the babies and pretoddlers, it’s grandmotherly types who just want to spend a few hours loving and cuddling the wee ones….so just investigate some of the churches around and see what’s available…. one or two days a week, 3-4 hours, is a delightful dose of sanity for everyone…..
    Above all never feel guilty for wanting to be Maria the adult and bright and vibrant woman……I never agreed that we lose our brains and individuality in postpartum delivery……senseless self sacrifice is not a virtue….great moms lovingly care for their families while continuing to be BALANCED women…..the trick is in finding the balance and making it work for the betterment of your family and you….
    Keep a sense a humor about it all…..just as through marriage there are good and bad days, and we can laugh and complain about our husbands without everyone saying we want a divorce, we should be able to laugh and complain about some of the absurdities of motherhood without everyone thinking that we are saying we don’t or didn’t love our kids…..I think I could fill volumes on the darker side of both marriage and motherhood…and wouldn’t wish to have not had either….it is very therapeutic to acknowledge the absurdities though and not pretend we live in a world of only sunshine and rainbows….

  6. On , Petie wrote:

    Your aunt is very eloquent about it…

    There are other churches (besides LDS) in the area, right? I highly recommend the Methodist program. We did join the church where Joelle went to school (it does help with getting bumped up on the waiting list, if there is a waiting list), but you do NOT have to join the church where you pick out. I promise, there are many, many people who go to Joelle / Elise’s “school” that do not belong to the church.

    I can write volumes to you on advice regarding this (since I’ve been through it), but I’ll just let you ask if you want the advice.

    …just make sure you get the breaks you need and deserve. I remember having a guilt mom moment about something I thought I was doing wrong with Joelle or Elise and it was actually Poppy who gave me the insight that I remind myself over and over. “A happy mommie makes a happy baby.” So true!

  7. On , Maria wrote:

    Thank you Petie. Yeah… Sounds like we’ll be talking about this when you guys come to visit. My mom is coming to help for a month (mostly because of my tendonitis), but I have to have a plan for when she leaves and it’s just me again.

  8. On , marla wrote:

    Hi Maria. I loved your post. My experience with the real super moms is that they know their limits, even from their children. It’s healthy. And fewer people than you expect will judge you for it. It doesn’t really matter to you anyway. Just be who you are and Joaquin will grow. And it’s okay if he must be uncomfortable for a time, ie. cry in his playpen for a few minutes so you can eat your bowl of cereal in one sitting before half of it gets soggy. As long as he can see and hear your encouragement, he will not be neglected even though it will feel wrong at first.

    In Dallas, you do not need to be a member of the church to put your child in Mother’s Day out. But if you’re worried about that, you could hire someone to stay at the house with you a couple of days a week so you can do what you want to do around the house. I know many women who do that and it’s not “cheating”. Best of both worlds, really.

    Just know that part of the trap of motherhood is feeling the weight of another woman’s judgement. Most of the judgement comes from ourselves and it destroys. Do what you need to do. I know you. He will thrive.

  9. On , Erin wrote:

    Thank you so much for this. I can’t tell you how comforting it is to see an honest post on how all ‘this’ sometimes feels like the toughest job in the world.
    My kid is on the very brink of crawling and I honestly feel like I’m bracing for impact; I feel actual dread (and then the terrible guilt) because I KNOW its about to get even harder.
    My sweetie is a good man, and on his days off he’s all, ‘why don’t you go out, get a coffee, spend some time on your own?’
    Which is awesome; except that it means I don’t get any time with him. I (vaguely) remember when he and I were friends and partners instead of just shift workers at the worlds smallest day-care center.
    I’m hoping it gets better…. it gets better right? right? right?
    thanks again.

  10. On , Maria wrote:

    Hi Erin. Thanks for stopping by…

    I hear you on your comment about working shifts with your husband. Before having our baby I vouched I wouldn’t do so many things that now I’m doing (for instance, riding in the back of the car with the baby)… Yes, in my short experience I can say that it does tend to get better. Never the same, of course, and the ugly aspects change and can wear you out, but overall, it feels like improvement.

    After a few weeks of clumsiness when he started crawling, my baby’s now a pro moving around the house. He even figured out how to go down the stairs. So I can let him roam with more freedom than before. Of course you always have to be with him, though. He finds ways to make anything new dangerous, and now he’s dropping everything he finds to the floor, which can drive me crazy. He’s about to begin walking, so I know that “shit is about to hit the fan” once more. My life will become miserable again… for some weeks… and then it will get better again. I hope :)