Welcome back for part two of the reader survey results. Today I’m trying to make sense of the over 250 women that responded to the questions: What is my biggest struggle as a mother?
Before I dive into the results, I want to talk generally for a minute. I had a bit more difficulty summing up the responses to this survey than I did for the Homemaking question. First off, 6 women responded that their most difficult struggle is accepting that God isn’t calling them to motherhood. Some shared about infertility or the inability to carry to term. Reading those responses certainly put all of this in perspective.
About 10 other women shared about very specific parts of motherhood as their biggest struggle. A handful of women, clearly new mothers, wrote about difficulties with breastfeeding or adjusting to waking up at night to feed babies. We’ve all been there, we’ve all struggled through those things. It will get better. I, unfortunately, wasn’t able to put these responses into a bigger category, so I omitted them from my results. But, even so, ladies, the struggle is real, remember that.
I was left with 248 responses that fit into one of 5 categories: Patience, Discipline, Organization, Being Present and Making Time for Self. Here are the results:
Once I got my arms around all of the responses, being present emerged as the clear winner. At first I had 15 different categories for responses. Some women wrote about mom guilt of leaving kids at daycare. Others wrote about struggling to play with their kids or make time for each and every child. Other’s wrote about putting on too much TV or getting sucked into their phone and other technologies.
I started to realize, however, that we all might fail to engage with and be present for our kids for different reasons, but we all struggle with this.
Many responses sounded like this, “Being present at that moment among all the OTHER things homemakers must do.”
Mothers with bigger families worried about being present enough for each and every child. One person wrote, “Making sure that each child (we have four too!) has all of their needs met outside of the obvious food, clothing, etc.: enough individual attention, their own activities and opportunities to thrive as an individual and, keeping the home sane, efficient, loving and happy. Teaching them to have a positive attitude and to be a happy person is easy to overlook when you are trucking through each day cleaning, cooking, planning, organizing, disciplining … you know.”
Wow, we are asking a lot of ourselves as moms, don’t you think?
And, wrapped up and in and around all of this worry about being present in the demon MOM GUILT. “Mom guilt about everything- too much tv, too much junk food, not enough sleep, too much sleep, not enough educational activities, not enough of my attention, the list goes on and on and on.”
Perhaps the response that sums it up the cleanest is this, “Enjoy every day, even those hard days.” If I can ever get to that point, then I will know I have truly grown as a mother.
At first I thought this was going to be the clear winner on this survey. There were about 20 responses that were simply the word “patience”. Many responses talked about struggling with yelling (I’m right there with ya), others talked about loosing their temper at meal time/bedtime/nap time/all the time, like this response, “Loving my kids through their tantrums and whining.”
The biggest pattern I saw emerge here, for those the elaborated on the struggle to be patient, is the tendency to want to control everything and the struggle to let go of that desire to control.
The next three categories all finished pretty neck-n-neck. 33 people wrote about struggles with disciplining their children. I struggle with discipline each and every day. Am I too hard on the kids or (more likely, I know) a total pushover? Why is disciplining so hard? And then you throw in a spouse with a different discipline style and things get even worse.
I really liked this response on the topic of discipline: “Being consistent. Knowing when to and how to discipline and show love. Not being overwhelmed and exhausted by the constant questions and non stop decision making.”
It is nonstop, isn’t it? Sheesh.
FINDING TIME FOR SELF
I was surprised by these answers at first, perhaps because I have a selfish personality and I always seem to make time for myself, but 31 people wrote that their biggest struggle is finding time for themselves amid the work of motherhood. Some spoke about scheduling, others spoke about being alone as a parent due to the demands of their husband’s job, not living near family or divorce. And others wrote about this in more of a general way, “Being me! I am more than just a mother.”
We are more than just a mom–even on the days when we are covered in spit up and glitter glue.
Bringing up the tail on this Motherhood Survey is the very practical struggle of organization. As I read these 25 responses I shuttered at what my future will look like: organizing kids for activities, getting homework done, supervising chores, managing bins of clothes and different diets.
And there you have it–the results from the motherhood survey. I would love to hear from you here in the comments. Where do you fail (or feel like you fail)? What is your struggle? Is it in a category I failed to include? Let me know–and let me know why it is you think we all seem to struggle so much with being truly present with our children.
Thank you, as always, for being here,