Why Is Motherhood Portrayed As Being Either Magical Or Depressing In Media?

Motherhood is complex. And it doesn’t have to fit into a neat little box or specific category.
05/18/2018 11:17 am ET

By Colleen Temple

Originally published on Motherly

I am so immersed in all things motherhood at this stage in my life. It’s seems like my life is mom/baby/toddler/marriage after babies/breastfeeding/tantrums/exhaustion/giggles/etc. all day, every day. (Because, well, it is.) And lately, I feel like I’m sandwiched between two worlds: One world is perfect and pristine and fashionable and cool and on-trend and knows it all — this world is called social media. In social media, motherhood is beautiful and magical and balanced in your own way and exactly what you’ve always imagined.

And then there’s the other world: how the media portrays motherhood. I haven’t seen “Tully” yet, but the trailer makes me feel sad. I watched the first episode of “The Letdown” on Netflix and a lot of it was relatable, for sure, but also kind of left me feeling despondent.

Basically, what I’m saying is that a lot of what we see representing motherhood on screens is either perfection or depression. It’s either magical or terrible. It’s either the most amazing thing or the most exhausting thing. It’s accurate and it’s inaccurate.

But the thing is: motherhood is both. Motherhood is all of the above. And more. It’s SO MANY FEELINGS AT ONCE. I often somehow feel happy and sad. Tiredand energized. Low and inspired. Confused and clear. Busy and in the moment. Wishing time would freeze and wishing it would speed up. Wishing bedtime would already be here and having fun with my kids. It’s a lot at once, all the time. It’s never just one thing. It’s all the things. Because I can go from extreme anxiety from my child busting into my room (aka my home office) without pants or a diaper on while I am on an important work video call to her going off to play again leaving me to finish the call and feel inspired by the role I have at work to then feeling angry because I hear the word ‘stupid’ out of one of my children’s mouths to complete 😍 over my baby’s rolls as I admire them while she nurses…

...to a sense of panic because I didn’t take anything out for dinner and am wondering what we’ll eat back to anxiety over looking at the state my house is in (it looks like it’s been ransacked) to such pride after watching my oldest two high five and say, “best friends!” (it’s their new thing and it’s awesome) to crazy love when my preschooler tells me I’m beautiful...

...to feeling exhausted after answering what feels like the 1,000th request I’ve gotten today to slight shame as I make my 4th (or is it 5th?) cup of coffee of the day to laughing (really hard actually) because my 2-year-old asked if we could go to the “chocolate chip doughnut house” (aka Heavn’ly Donuts) to encouragement at the thought of my husband being home in a half hour to help split the load…

...to joy as I hear my baby laugh at her sister’s antics to confusion over how I am even supposed to deal with their fighting and bickering to overwhelmed at the thought of wanting to declutter and simplify but not even knowing where to start and then amazement at the kindness my kid’s have in their hearts after watching them do something nice for the other to excitement at the thought of catching up on Grey’s after bedtime to gratefulness for this life and the people in it to wishing it sometimes felt easier to understanding it won’t always feel this chaotic to sleepiness wondering how I’ll have the energy to do it all again tomorrow... It’s not one thing. It’s EVERYTHING. Motherhood is complex. And it doesn’t have to fit into a neat little box or specific category.

I definitely always try to acknowledge the hard parts of this life — when it’s draining, the reality of the challenges I face — but I also don’t shy away from celebrating the real truly great parts of all of this. Because it is inspiring it is validating it is fun it is hilarious it is everything I’ve ever wanted and it is pure magic. Motherhood is about learning and growing and evolving and transforming and accepting and nurturing. It’s about your “old self” your “current self” and your “future self.” It’s about remembering what you used to like or do when you had time to like or do it, appreciating what you have and what you prioritize time for now, and about having goals and dreams for the future.

It is not about comparing and winning and being perfect. It’s enlightening, it’s humbling, and most of all? I’ve gotta say — I think it’s pretty wonderful.

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