When It Feels Like I'm Lacking in Maternal Instincts

Jan 11, 2020

*DISCLAIMER: If you are currently expecting your child or have just given birth, I recommend you not read any further than this. This is a piece I wrote in my darker moments, and I urge you to use your own discretion depending on your current emotional state and headspace. These feelings are purely my own and are subject to change. They are not facts about what your own motherhood journey may look like.*


I really don’t want to post this but I promised I would talk about these types of moments. The point of the amommaly: is to show all sides of parenthood: the great, the “eh okay,” the bad, the funny, the dark, the complicated, the fulfilling, the heart-breaking, the heart-warming... all of it.

This is one of those “motherhood is tough” “motherhood is lonely” moments... the moments that are heart-wrenching to feel and complex to understand, let alone talk about. I certainly don’t understand what I am feeling at this moment. Please note that the purpose of this is not to complain and gain sympathy, but to attempt to add to the definition of “motherhood is hard.”

It’s almost 11pm, and I’m currently sitting alone on the king-sized bed in Ru’s room in the dark, feeling defeated and inadequate. I’m listening to my husband and Ru, who are sitting in the other room on the couch. Ru is still awake, and I spent the last hour and a half trying everything I can to get her to fall asleep. She scream-cried for her father pretty much the entire time. She’s now with him as he gives it a try, which I know will be successful because it always is. Without fail, and with relative ease. While she screams for her dad whenever I try, she only whines when her dad tries. She never calls out for me.

All of my life I heard about this “motherly bond” that mothers are automatically “supposed” to have with their child. It’s “a bond only mothers have” or something vague and mysterious like that. But I mean, it makes sense, right? My child was inside my body for close to 10 months. I was the first and only thing she knew for almost a full year since her conception. She was freaking created inside of me. And that only tops the long list of the things only I did for and with her. So why does it feel like I don’t have that “motherly bond” I’ve been told about?

I must say here that I do have a fantastic relationship with Ru. She shows me that we have our connection in other ways, like wanting my attention and wanting me to play with her for hours... but it’s the same with her and her father. The only difference is that the father-daughter bond they have is obvious and uniquely theirs... it’s something you need to see yourself to understand. I love that. I live for that. It warms my soul to know and witness that bond they have, and I can’t wait to see how it grows throughout their lives. But that unique bond that I expected to have with my child is not present.

When Ru was a newborn, many times she didn’t stop crying when she was placed in my arms. She would not be soothed when she would hear the sound of my voice. She was not comforted by my familiar scent. And I would be left thinking “aren’t I supposed to be able to comfort my baby every time? Isn’t that what mothers do?”

I’m only just beginning to work out what this feeling means. It is so confusing to describe, and I’m not even entirely sure if there is any actual truth to it. I have felt this feeling many times, and have always fallen short when it comes to describing it properly. Not being able to express it only adds to the frustration. The truths that I know for sure are that my feelings are not rooted in jealousy or envy, and that I do not place blame on anyone. My feelings are not the result of anyone’s faults. I appreciate the relationship my husband and daughter have with each other, and I expect their relationship to be like that, forever and always. I always have. I know without a doubt that Ru loves us both equally but in some different ways, and I expected that as well. It’s meant to be that way, and she should never have to prove anything to us. The issue itself is that maybe the bond that I have with her is not unique just to me and her, and that leaves me feeling like I am not enough. I feel like I don’t have a lot of the deeper “maternal instincts” that most women talk about.

Again, I do not believe this is anyone’s fault, but rather that it is just the way things are, and are probably meant to be, though I still need to get comfortable with that. Logically speaking, I do not believe this makes me any less of a mother, although it can be easy to forget when I’m in one of these moments. I believe this won’t be the last time I feel this way, and I’m going to keep working through it to figure out what this means. I’m sure that I’m not the only woman on this planet who has felt this way, and in some way, I can take comfort in that.

But... it still sucks ass.

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