When I first found out I was pregnant, I was one of the only people I knew my age who was taking that particular life step. Now though, things are very different. I am surrounded by other “millennial moms” just like me, going through the same daily joys and woes of motherhood. Unlike some people, I can’t get enough of the kiddo posts on my social media feeds. I shamelessly creep on my fellow mommy’s pages and always look forward to the cutesy pictures and adorable quotes.
Though most of us started out in the same area, we’re now scattered around the country, all of us just trying to figure out what the hell it is we’re doing in this mommy gig. Some are stay-at-home moms, some are putting themselves through school, some are working multiple jobs, some are married and some are single, but all of us are primarily focused on the little bundles of joy we’ve brought into this world. In an effort to connect with some of my fellow mammas I posed them a few questions about their biggest fears, joys and challenges. I wanted to know what matters most to them. After reading their responses, it became even more abundantly clear to me just how similar we moms and parents in general are, and how we’re all in this together.
If you don’t believe me, just see for yourself. Here are the questions I asked, and the answers they gave:
1. As a mom, what are your biggest fears? These can be the big picture fears, or the daily worries, or both. What keeps you up at night, what are the things you think about when you allow yourself to worry for your child(ren)?
Emily - So, my biggest fear for my daughter is sexual abuse. I know that’s a heavy subject right out of the gate, but the statistics on this are astounding. There is nothing that makes me more sick to my stomach, or keeps me up more than hearing something like that on the news. It’s incredible how many women I know who have been affected by some kind of sexual assault or trauma. It’s so incredibly common for such a scary and life-ruining thing, and I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t cross my mind. Sometimes I like to tell myself I’m being irrational, but the most disturbing thing is…I’m probably not.
Tina – There are a lot of fears. I fear that I’m not doing a good enough job. I fear she will make the same silly mistakes I did growing up. Also, she unfortunately has a lack of a father figure in her life, and it sucks and hurts to see her ask for her dad and there is simply nothing I can do to give her what she wants. I fear that may have a negative effect on her growing up. I’m scared of her asking why her daddy is the way he is. I honestly don’t know how to answer, because I just want to keep her protected.
Andrea – My biggest fear is someone taking my children. I’m always looking over my shoulder everywhere I go. I find that I just don’t trust the public anymore, especially because of all the human trafficking going on. I’m also afraid that something will happen to my kids. I hate even saying the word dead now, but that’s my biggest fear, having to cope with a lost child.
Jessica – My biggest worry is probably for his health. I would hate it if he ever got really sick because I hate to see him in pain! The only other thing that keeps me up at night is worrying that he is still breathing.
2. Now the flip side, what are the greatest joys you’ve come to know as a mom? What things bring you so much happiness you feel fit to burst? In what ways has being a mom improved your life?
Emily - My greatest joy in raising my daughter has been learning to see the beauty and wonder in all things. Something that we become so used to, like the moon for instance. My daughter is fascinated with the moon and starts, and every night it’s the same excitement, the same ecstatic joy to find the moon. It makes me appreciate the moon too. She teaches me to be present and grateful for life’s little wonders.
Tina – Her entire existence brings me joy. She is my life. Even though I have many fears because I want to preserve her innocence and set the best example for her. My absolute favorite thing in the world is when she runs up to me and hugs me and tells me, “I love you to the moon and back and to infinity and beyond for forever and ever and ever! You are the best mommy ever!” Kids are very intuitive, and it’s like she knows just when I need to hear those words. And in that moment, I have no more fears and know I must be doing something right.
Andrea – My biggest joys are just my children themselves, definitely. I love it when they seek me out for comfort. There’s nothing better than the sound of my boys laughing. I don’t care how bad I embarrass myself to get them to laugh; I want to hear that perfect sound. And seeing Henry talk to his brother is another big joy. Or watching my boys learn! I could go on and on.
Jessica – The little things are what really melt my heart – like his smile and his little kisses. Now that he is talking more and more, the simple “Mom” just makes me melt! When he gives me his sweet kisses and then I melt even more. Being a mom has made me a better person all around. I have really enjoyed spending my time looking at the world through his eyes. So simple and so much LOVE!
3. What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a parent?
Emily - I think the biggest challenge for me sometimes is feeling like I have no idea what I’m doing. Those times when I have to make a tough decision for my kid, medically. Those times when she can’t tell me what’s wrong or what hurts. Those times when I can’t take away or carry her pain but I would jump at the chance to. That’s challenging. Sometimes I don’t know if I’m making the right move, and I can’t predict the future, but I have to trust that I’m making whatever decision I can with the best amount of care and good intentions, and decide that that’s good enough.
Tina – I’m too hard on myself. I’m a young mother and I’m not to the place where I want to be in life yet. I’m still in school and work a job that I don’t enjoy; I’m back in my father’s house because money is tight. Stuff I have to do, sacrifices I have to make in order to make sure my little munchkin has everything she needs and wants. So I guess my biggest challenge is mentally battling with the idea of just being okay with the fact that I’m not where I want to be. But I know I also need to acknowledge that I’m still making strides to get to where I want to be. If anything, I’m setting an example for my little girl that it is never too late to go after your goals.
Andrea – My biggest challenge would probably be keeping my patience. Sometimes I just want to scream and throw a tantrum right along with my toddler, but instead I have to keep my cool and set an example. Another challenge is sacrificing time spent with my husband to better care for our children, and the ways our lives have changed so much. Our moments together are so much different now than before we had kids. Before, we were able to show our affection quite simply, but now it seems like the emotions we share happen mostly through our children. We hardly ever physically touch anymore, so that can be challenging. I’m not just referring to sex, but also even just cuddling while watching a movie. Now when we watch a movie, each of us has one of the two boys in our arms. I also struggle with the lack of personal space I get now as a mom. I used to consider myself a very touchy-feely person, and I loved hugs and kisses – now there are days when I don’t want anyone to even touch me. After being hung on and climbed on all day, I just want more touch-free space for myself.
Jessica – My biggest struggle has probably been remembering that he is learning how to deal with his emotions and I have to be patient with the learning process. Sometimes we forget that they have to be taught how to process things, they don’t just know what to do.
4. What matters most to you, and why? This can be what matters most in your personal life as a parent, or you can take it broad and discuss what matters most for you on a local or even national level. What is your truth, your light that keeps you going through those hard, dark days of motherhood?
Emily - It matters to me that I raise a kind, compassionate human. It matters to me that I’m a kind, compassionate human. I don’t think it matters if my kid is the best at school, or sports, or whatever. I’m going to do my best to foster growth and proficiency in any area I can, sure. And if it’s important to her, it will be important to me. But, what matters in the end is how she moves through her life. Does she lift other people up? Is she kind? Is she honest? Does she care about humanity regardless of faith, color, culture, sexual identity, etc.? If the answers to those questions are yes, I have succeeded as a mother. I can already see her beautiful heart, and that gets me through those dark days. My biggest hope is that this big crazy world does not hurt her so badly that she walls it off.
Tina – My daughter is what keeps me going when times are tough. When I experience those days where I feel the need to just crawl into the fetal position, sob, just throw up the white flag and give up. I just tell myself I can’t allow myself to quit; I have this incredible little girl, my little mini-me, watching my every move. Of course nothing is perfect, and my little one has definitely seen me break down a few times in tears, but she also has watched me get back up and continue moving forward. She motivates me and she picks me up when I’m down. Definitely my little ride or die chick.
Andrea – The thing that matters most to me is family, no doubt about it. Watching my son run to my parents with open arms, or when he’s so excited to see his Nana and Papa that he says their names over and over until we reach their house. Or when he says Nana every time my phone rings, thinking that she must be calling him. The baby is still too young to really care about much besides eating and sleeping, but every second spent with my parents means the world to Henry.
Jessica – What matters to me more than anything in the world is that my children feel loved. Nothing else in the world matters as much as my family and having them know and really feel like they are loved. During the tough times, I find peace in prayer and reflection. I like to assess situations and see what could have been done differently and in a more loving way. Loving my children with all of my heart and soul, and knowing they feel that love and they know I would do anything for them is my main purpose in life.