Jennifer Nettles: It’s All Good That It’s Not All Good — Keeping It Real

12/06/2012. The day the world changed forever……


This is the day my son Magnus was born. As every mum knows, the epic tales of each angel’s debut, are nothing compared to the novel of life from the time a baby is born. The joy and blessings of having a child are not able to be compared to anything in my life before. And then, there are the lessons!

For some women, being a mum may be a complete breeze. That is not my story. For me becoming a mum landed me on a super sharp learning curve about who I am and what it means to be vulnerable and human and whole. 


Before I continue, let me give all of you permission. Right now in this moment I give you permission to know that you can love your child to bits, you can want to put your face in his face when he yawns just so you can smell his breath, his laughter can open a crack in the floor of heaven and, even when he shrieks the toddler “NOOOOO!”, you can think he is the cutest thing since build-a-bear AND you can also admit that mothering is the hardest thing you’ve ever done. All of that can co-exist. You don’t have to feel like it is “easy” in order to be a good mother. 


In our society and culture, mothers are often made to feel that if we don’t dance through and enjoy all the challenges of motherhood, then we aren’t good mothers. We are “supposed” to welcome ALL of the changes that motherhood brings to our lives because it brought us our child and if we didn’t have the challenges then we wouldn’t have our child so then we must love it all if we truly love our child. (This is what I like the call the “If/Then Transitive Property of Crazy”). This black and white view of motherhood doesn’t allow us to be whole humans. We are conditioned to think within a structure of “either/or”; as in, “You either love every aspect of motherhood or you’re a bad mum.”  I have discovered, however, that many experiences as a mother (as well as life in general) are “both/and”.

For example: I can love my child with an instinct that surpasses any of my previous experience AND I can grieve the loss of parts of my life and identity that I enjoyed before becoming a mother. I know some of you right now are hyperventilating. You relate to this statement but you are also anxious with me for bringing up a truth within yourself that society prefers you to deny. But, remember, in this article you have permission to explore being a whole. Whatever that means to you. (If you don’t relate to some of the struggles within my experience, your experience is valid too. There is certainly a mother out there who could write a blog about how easy the life changes of motherhood were for her. And there are two other women who will want to read it. Just kidding, I’m sure a lot of them exist. I just have never met any “in the wild” if you will. But I digress…). 

Motherhood is a practice of becoming something new. Of shifting schedules and rebalancing desires. Of learning and sacrifice. We learn to let go in so many ways. We learn to let go of control of our environments (also known as house work). We learn to let go of control of our bodies. (Some things never go back to their “native” lands). We learn to let go of our time. And, of course, we learn to let go of those precious angels as they grow up with each stage of development. Because after all, that is the ultimate goal right?  That they grow up as happy, healthy, functioning adults and go on to live their own lives. We learn to let go of parts of ourselves in order to experience other parts of our whole. But learning to let go is hard. And it is ok to acknowledge that it is hard. 


Admitting that being a mum is challenging doesn’t mean we are bad mums. Nor does it mean we are ungrateful. Nor does it mean that we don’t love our children. It simply means that letting go can be challenging.  And that is all it means.   

What “Being a Good Mama Means to Me” is a whole separate blog. What I wanted to offer today was my opinion on one of things that I know being a bad mum is NOT: And that is being a whole, real human who experiences the fullness of life and recognises and accepts her challenges alongside celebrating her joys. That’s what I hope my son learns to do too in his life: Keep it real.