What Motherhood Feels Like on the Crappy Days

Some days motherhood can be the pinnacle of joy and wonderment. And some days it’s just really freaking hard.

And the thing about a rough day of motherhood is that you don’t tend to confine it to just that day. Inevitably, your maternal imagination careens through all of the tragic long-term outcomes that could possibly result from your day of horrible parenting. You feel frustrated, discouraged, and ineffectual. Your priorities suddenly weigh a ton, your responsibilities feel like a smothering hot blanket, finding some sense of balance seems like a ridiculous joke, and you pray that your children will miraculously turn out splendidly despite your shortcomings.

I usually try to just push through those feelings, knowing that tomorrow I’ll probably be back to joy and wonderment. Today, I decided to express those feelings in metaphors (because that’s what we writers do for fun and therapy).


Building a pyramid with billiard balls.

Folding a honey-soaked sheet in a windstorm.

Catching fish in a stream with your bare hands tied behind your back.

Writing an epic novel with your toes while blindfolded.

Doing calculus without a calculator.

Doing calculus with a calculator.

Dropping pennies into a milk carton from the top of a 10-story building.

Juggling angry cats.

Counting bees in a beehive while wearing a crown of flowers.

Emptying a swimming pool with a colander and an ice cream scoop.

Understanding self-employment tax laws.

Playing tetherball, where the ball is a bowling ball and it’s tethered to your head.

Wrapping your mind around the fact that a million Earths could fit inside the sun, and that there are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on Earth. (Ow, my head.)

Attempting to have a phone conversation in a house full of children. (Oh, wait. That’s not a metaphor, that’s reality.)

What do your rough days feel like? 

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Annie writes about life, motherhood, world issues, beautiful places, and anything else that tickles her brain. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and homeschooling her children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

Comments 9

  1. OH my gosh, you thinkers and writers are extremely talented and entertaining, but too smart for me. The last thing I want to do on a crappy motherhood day is to think about more things and then create a list.

    I may cry a bit, and pray a bit, but the best therapy I’ve found is looking at a picture of my kids just a little younger; maybe 2 years younger. It makes me realize how quickly the time is passing. At that moment, all I want to do is hug my kids and have fun. The laundry can wait 🙂

  2. Though I’m not a mom, my crappy days are the same, and my reaction to them is similar (hence, I’m reading your blog post at 1am after not being able to sleep because my mind is racing with all the things I didn’t do today, all the things I have to do tomorrow and everything in between).

    I equate rough days to planting an acre of crops in the desert with nothing more than a teaspoon.

  3. Wanting to have a moment of quiet and stillness on a sail boat in the middle of the ocean during a huge thunderstorm.

    Needing to scale a rocky mountain on your own with no shoes, no ropes, no tools, and no water on the hottest summer day.

    Knowing you need to be present and in the moment with your kids’ endless games of firefighters and reading the same caterpillar book over and over but also feeling urged to do other things including laundry, cleaning, preparing meals, washing sticky jam hands, writing books, and blogging. Oh wait, that’s my reality 😉

    Great exercise. Interested in doing the same for the great mommy days?

    1. Ooh, good ones, Chelsea. It would be fun to try to do the same for the great days, although I can’t think of any off the top of my head. The great mothering moments don’t really compare to anything else, do they?

  4. Oh dear. I hope you are remembering bad days from long ago and did not have such a day today. But I am guessing it was today as I know how you kids do with heat. So sorry.

    For me, a bad day feels like a therapy session with Sybil as the therapist.

    1. I don’t mean to laugh, but that Sybil comment gave me a good chuckle! Here’s to a laugh when you’re least expecting it!

  5. My rough days feel precisely like any and all of these metaphors!! Thank you for this blog post, it’s a nice reminder that I am not alone:-)

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