Why You Have to Be a B*tch to Get Through Motherhood


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Motherhood is crazy. Batshit crazy. The chaos you go through every day would make grown men weep. Why do you think our husbands let us handle it? Some women say their life didn't truly begin until they had kids. Unfortunately, it's a lot more common for women to start to feel lost, no matter how much they love their kids. I was there myself.

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Every day, I was waking up and getting my kids ready for school and making sure they had breakfast. That was my daily routine, but when it came to me, there wasn't one. I made every excuse not to exercise and not to have a proper breakfast. I would have coffee and snack on licorice or Swedish fish all day. Between the three kids -- the oldest one's travel teams and the middle one's auditions, plus a toddler -- every day was mayhem.

Shortly after my youngest child's second birthday, I was feeling lousy. I was very lethargic and I had gained weight, and people kept asking me when was my due date -- but I wasn't expecting again. I was mortified.

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My body was trying to tell me, "Wake up! You can't live like this anymore." I went on a health retreat. That's right, out of sheer desperation (and being terrified of invasive tests and procedures that my doctor seemed to think I was headed for), I packed my bags and left my husband in charge. I figured, what's the worst he can do? Set the apartment on fire? Lose my toddler in the park? Let him freakin' figure it out.

During the retreat, I was climbing a mountain and I was having a hard time getting up there. I had always been fit and athletic before I had children. When I finally got to the top, I took a deep breath and looked at the sky and the wilderness. "I just need a moment," I told my climbing partner. I sat on a rock and started sobbing. I knew I had to take better care of myself.

For the next few glorious days, I sipped tea and took herbs, ate quinoa and kiwi, and did sunrise yoga. Guess what? I went home feeling like a new person. Why? Because I paid attention to myself. I stopped putting everyone else's needs, wants, and whines before my own basic necessities: peace, love, and more than two hours sleep. I felt renewed and rejuvenated, and my health bounced back. 

My doctor was shocked. He asked, "What did you do?" I became a bitch, that's what I did. I realized this was what had to happen all the time, not just for a weekend. My husband and children kissed and hugged me when I walked through the door -- they appreciated me more because they realized that without me, their lives were a mess and there was no clean underwear. Damn straight! I deserve to be appreciated -- heck, worshipped. Within minutes, they tried to suck me back in: "Mommy, we need this." "Honey, I need that."

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Well, you know what I need? I need all of you -- and all the rest of you who have been driving me down this dangerous spiral of stress and self-loathing -- to back the hell off.

Yes, I will be a loving mother and wife, a devoted daughter, sister, and school community member, but on my terms. I'm not the same girl I was, that's for sure. But for the first time in a long time, I'm okay. Better. Stronger. Not afraid to assert myself. In the past, I was always so concerned about hurting people's feelings. Excuse me, but what about my feelings? Don't I count? You bet I do. And so do you. You're nodding your head -- yeah, you've been there, done this.

You know what I'm talking about. You know you've wanted to run away from home, not once, not twice, but every time your toddler throws a tantrum or your teenage son slams the door in your face (and that's several times a day). You feel like your husband doesn't hear you, see you, respect you as an equal. The only reason he calls you during the day is to ask what's for dinner (here's a clue: takeout!). Your boss doesn't care what you've got going on at home -- that's your problem. Your mother-in-law tells you that you're doing everything wrong -- or at least not as well as she would do it. And your fellow moms spot you in the schoolyard and think, "Sucker! Playdate at her house!"

Before my retreat, there was absolutely no routine for me personally. But now, every Sunday my husband and I sit down and make a weekly calendar. We'll review who's taking the kids to school each morning so that the other can go exercise.

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On Sundays I also prepare my own food and healthy snacks for the week. I eat very consciously now -- I don't regularly have candy, but I'll treat myself once in a while. I also make sure I pause throughout the day and take a deep breath. And I try not to worry too much about the next place I have to be. 

I've learned that you can still be the fabulous person you once were before you had kids. You can still have an amazing career. You can still have a great social life. I didn't have to give those things up to be the best mother I can be -- in fact, having those things makes me an even better mother!

 

Excerpted with permission from Motherhood is a B#tch: 10 Steps to Regaining Your Sanity, Sexiness, and Inner Diva by Lyss Stern with Sheryl Berk. (Copyright: Skyhorse Publishing, 2017).

 

Lyss Stern wears many hats -- she's "the mommy whisperer," columnist at LVBX magazine, CEO of divamoms.com, and a mompreneur. She created Divalysscious Moms as a way to get her groove back after giving birth to her first child and help other mothers find themselves post-baby. Today, DivaMoms is the premier network and event company for the New York area's well-heeled moms. Stern lives in New York City with her husband, their three children, and their dog. 

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