A few days ago, after struggling to get our kids to bed, my husband and I decided to go for a quick walk. (Don’t worry, they were fully supervised.) The past few weeks had been insanely difficult, and I was really struggling. As we were walking, I said to my husband, “You know? I just really don’t enjoy being a mom right now.” Over the next few days, I thought a lot about this. Why have I been struggling so much to enjoy being a mom? Is this normal for me to feel this way? A million thoughts went through my head–especially feelings of inadequacy and failure. But the more I thought, the more I started to recognize additional stressors that were making motherhood extra hard, as well as some things that I should be doing if I really want to bring the joy back into parenthood.

Why don’t I enjoy motherhood?

All of us struggle with moments when we may feel like being a parent is just too much to handle. We all know going into it that it’s going to come with challenges. Each phase brings its own frustrations and difficulties. And right when we think we have it figured out, something else comes along to remind us we don’t have all the answers. But when we frequently feel like we don’t enjoy being a parent, it may be time to take a step back. See if you can pinpoint the additional barriers that may be preventing you from noticing the joyful moments of motherhood.

  • Impossible Standards: Sometimes I think we are bombarded with messages of all the things we should be doing for our kids. “Make your kids a homemade meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Never give them anything processed and avoid all sugar! Teach them all their letters and numbers and colors and shapes AND a second language by age 3! Lead them in planned crafts each day, and avoid any screen time like it’s the plague. Oh, and make sure your house is spotless 24/7!” For me, feeling like I have to do x, y, and z every day leaves me feeling overwhelmed and incapable. I hold myself to impossible standards that are impossible to meet.

  • Comparison: As women, we have a tendency to compare our worst with other people’s best. But I think when we become parents, we do this to our own children without even realizing. We compare their worst moments to the small, perfect snippets we see from other children. This is not fair to our kids, and it’s not fair to ourselves. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” In any aspect of our life, if we are comparing, we are preventing feelings of contentment. In parenting specifically, comparison will keep you from seeing all the wonderful things your children are doing on a daily basis.

  • Limited support: The whole time my husband and I have been married, we’ve lived away from our extended family. When my husband started his PA program a few years ago, we found ourselves moving even further from the support of our parents and siblings. On top of our distance from familial support, grad school has required a LOT of my husband’s time and attention. As a result, I often struggle to handle all the responsibilities of parenthood. Don’t get me wrong, he does so much to help and prioritizes our family above all else, but I would be lying if I said the demands of school haven’t made things harder for us both, and we both feel like we don’t have the support we need at times. Everyone at some point in their parenting journey will experience circumstances that leave you feeling alone, whether you’re a single parent, a military family, or you’re living through temporary stressors like school. But when we don’t have the support we need, we can quickly begin to resent our role as parents. 

  • Constant change: Change is hard for people. And parenthood is filled with change. Our kids are always learning, growing, and adapting. While I am so impressed with children and their resilience, I find myself frustrated when I thought I finally had my child “figured out,” and then realize I don’t. For example, you tried for weeks to get your