Is Motherhood Really That Hard?

Motherhood is Hard--But do we make it worse on ourselves?

I had one of those weekends where I was so stressed: “I will never get through everything I have to get done!” I thought. Balancing other responsibilities with motherhood is hard.

On the family side, I homeschool our two teenage daughters. And we have a family wedding in the next few weeks!

On the speaking side, I had to speak in Burlington on Saturday morning for a women’s breakfast, so I drove down the night before to make sure I was there in time. There I had a wonderful time with a great group of ladies and really saw God work. I’m always a little nervous for the first talk of the season, because I haven’t spoken in a few months and I lose my groove a bit. I don’t use notes; I know my talks well enough that they usually just flow. But I’m always worried the flow won’t be there when I haven’t spoken in a while, but it went fine.

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Then I started for home, a 2 1/2 drive away, and realized an hour into it that I had left my Bible, my props, and my iPad behind. So I turned around and drove back, getting home much later than I thought.

This normally wouldn’t have been a big deal, but on Sunday I had to lead our quizzing program at church at 9 in the morning for two hours, and then at 4 twenty-five people were descending on my house for a surprise Jack and Jill shower for my brother-in-law and his future wife. Losing two hours of my day when I could prepare did not put me in a good mood.

Today I speak again at a women’s meeting, and Wednesday I’m taking off to Washington state for 10 days. So I’m busy. And I’m feeling a little sorry for myself. But the funny thing is that once I’m home from Washington, my life will really be quite smooth. This is just an anomaly.

But what was even more strange was that as stressed as I was by everything, the speaking, the quizzing, and the party actually all went very smoothly and was a lot of fun. I even had some time on Saturday night to just sit and knit and watch a movie with my husband.

So I’m starting to wonder if maybe I get stressed and complain a little too much. It reminds me of this blog post I read a while back about moms complaining that motherhood is hard. Here’s part of what she writes:

I do not think that it is easy to be a stay at home mom, nor do I think a working mom has it any easier (well, most days I believe it’s the same. Some days I envy the working mom- before I realized that I would then have two jobs. Gulp). In either case, it is hard to be a mom. There are challenging days when you can’t seem to put that screaming toddler down or you run out of hours to get all of your errands done. Finding time for yourself can be a bit of a challenge, if not at times impossible, but we can’t always put our own selves on the back burners. If you do not take care of yourself and put yourself first sometimes, who else is going to?

I become very confused by the people who claim not to have an identity anymore once they become a mom. Why on earth not? I get having frustrating days and feel the need to get out alone for awhile. So go ahead and do it. If you feel like you are losing yourself in your kids, then quite frankly I think you are doing it wrong. My kids are an amazing part of my life and an extension of who I am. I have become a better person in being their mom- a different person, yes. My days and my priorities do revolve around them, but it has made me stronger not question who I am as a person. I do not understand the constant lamenting of being a parent or that it affects your appearance.

In other words, if you feel like motherhood is hard and you’re too busy, take some control of the situation.

Of course your life is busy. Of course motherhood is hard. But this is what you chose, and it has a ton of benefits, and perhaps we tend to forget those. (I love this sentence that she writes, too: “Having kids is not easy, staying at home with them is hard, and I can’t begin to imagine working with kids, but I assure you that hourly Facebook updates telling us how tough it is are not going to help your situation”).

So do we complain too much? Looking back on my weekend, I certainly think that I did. Because you know what? It was actually a lot of fun. The speaking was fun. The car ride home was fun (even if it was longer than I intended, because I had my iPod with me and I blasted Broadway tunes and sang at the top of my lungs as that highway went by. That’s fun!). The youth at church are a great bunch. I still had time to talk and connect with my girls last night for an hour before we all went to bed. And the shower went so well, especially with the game that was suggested to me by a woman at the speaking function to  help the guys get in touch with their feminine side. Here’s how some of the guys looked afterwards:


So what’s the fundamental problem?

I think that, deep in our hearts, we think life is supposed to be about having nothing to do at all.

That life is supposed to be about leisure. And it’s not. Yes, you have to cook. Yes, you have to do laundry. Yes, you have to get ready for friends coming over. But all of those things are part of a rich life. You only have to work because you have people and things to work for.

Yes, we get overwhelmed at times, and there are seasons in our lives that are especially difficult. But maybe we just need a different perspective. Being a SAHM is tiring, I’m glad I have the people I do in my life. I’m glad God has called me to the ministry He has. I’m glad I’m a mom. And I’ll try to quit complaining now!


  1. “I think that, deep in our hearts, we think life is supposed to be about having nothing to do at all.”

    This really sums it up for me, Sheila. I needed to read this today.

    Many years ago, I attended a conference about household organization strategies (before I was even married with kids)!! (It was called “More Hours in my Day” by Emilie Barnes) While she gave us so many wonderful tools to keep our homes clean and taught us how to prepare healthy meals on a budget, she said something that I’ve never forgotten: “Remember ladies: God has not called us to be lazy.”

    That has stuck with me for twenty years. When I find myself resenting the laundry and dusting and whatever, I remember that simple statement. It’s true. There are so many days I think I “deserve” to just surf the web and read a magazine…take my time in the shower…wander Target. Why would I think that?

    So on that note…I’m off to work.

    Thanks for the kick in the pants, Sheila. :-)

  2. Wow! I feel like I’ve been kicked in the gut. It’s a good thing. I’ve been walking around the last few days complaining that it seems like I’m doing it all. I need to stop complaining. This is part of the job. Is everything enjoyable – NO. Is it hard-YES. Did God say anything was going to be easy – NO. I think we as women need to change our attitudes. It is too easy to think we can have it all as the world tells us. What they forget to say is in truth is that if you want it all you are going to be tired and stressed. We need to let go of the image we have of what it means to be perfect. We need to let go and realize that we are not in control.

    • I especially appreciate one thing you said: ” we need to let go of hte image we have of what it means to be perfect.” Sometimes I think we’re tired and stressed because we think we need to do things that God is not actually calling us to. He doesn’t need us to have a perfect house, or a perfect garden, or perfect meals. He just wants us to have a family that honours Him and respects each other and loves each other. Yes, we have to work to accomplish that, but let’s not add to our stress by putting unrealistic demands on ourselves! So true.

  3. I have been going through this for a while and God has really been convicting me. When we work hard at our tasks He blesses us – you know that satisfaction that you get from a clean home, or an organized bookshelf, or a clear counter (not one full of dirty dishes). It is easy to be lazy, but it is not satisfying. Those days that I am exhausted at the end of the day are the ones that I feel most accomplished! I think one of the hardest things about being a stay at home mom for me is disciplining myself. I know there needs to be balance in all things though and yes sometimes I need to just sit down and hold my baby or play with my 4yr old and the dishes can wait. The fun part about being a SAHM is that I CAN have a pajama day with my kids and curl up and watch a movie with them, but not every day – they also need my example that life requires hard work and self – discipline. Anyway, just thought I’d share what I have been learning lately although it is harder to put into practice :)

  4. Liz Winterburn says:

    Hi Sheila,

    Great article and a very timely reminder. :-) It is so easy to moan and feel sorry for ones self. I have done this so many times & what do I create when I moan? More misery and upset for my family which, when times are tough we don’t need. Remedy? Stop moaning :-)

    I always say to my son (9yrs), 2 ears, 1 mouth, listen more, speak less – methinks I need to heed my own advice.

    Thank you so much for your honesty and encouragement, I also love the fact that your articles more often than not challenge me in my walk with Christ.

    • Thanks, Liz! After writing that yesterday I had one of those “God moments” when I was speaking last night, and it was obviously where I was supposed to be. And it reminded me again that I should be grateful that God is using me, rather than moaning that I can’t be at home, sitting on my couch, knitting. I love knitting, but I don’t need to do it ALL THE TIME! It’s okay to have to work.

  5. Amanda Kowalski says:

    YES! I see so many women talking about how hard it is to be a SAHM and how our husbands should be helping out more when they get home after working all day. I see them ANGRY with their spouse for not “contributing to the household tasks.” I just want to shake them! Our husbands work hard all day slaying dragons for us (rude customers, ornery bosses, crabby co-workers) and then they walk in the door to their home with a hope for rest and the second they walk in we “should” all over them! I really feel like all this complaining is a slap in their face and very childish in fact. My husband doesn’t walk in the door and complain and unload every crappy thing that happened to him at work, so why should we be “unloading” all of our stresses on them when what we really should be doing is unloading the dishwasher? 😉

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