It’s not a secret that women keep things from our significant others – especially once we enter motherhood. Are you shocked having read that?
If the answer is a resounding YES, pick up your jaw and make yourself comfortable before you read about the 15 Common Secrets Moms Withhold From Their Partner – because you might be here for a while to digest the info.
The following hidden gems are the ones moms really like to keep to ourselves. Sort of to ourselves, anyway. Thanks to social media platforms, the ups and downs of motherhood are actually being shared in pockets of secret mom groups all over – and never before have more shocking (yet relatable) things come out of the mouths of women.
Using my own social media, I wanted to inquire with mamas of all backgrounds and experiences, from around the world, to see what they did not or could not share with their partner. Here is what I came up with.
15. “I suffer from anxiety.”
Even the most organized women will feel overwhelmed at the amount of information coming at them as they enter motherhood. Being responsible for a baby’s schedule and trying to adhere to whatever experts say you should and should not be doing is a full-time job. Add on things like mom guilt, paranoia about your baby’s safety in regards to SIDS and non-baby proofed areas, and comparing yourself to others and you’ve got yourself an anxiety cyclone. What people without anxiety don’t know, is that although it’s a problem of mental perspective, it often attacks a person physically through increased heartbeat, muscle tension and shakiness.
Anxiety can manifest itself as impatience, anger, sadness, irritability or other atypical behaviours you wouldn’t think of like keeping distance from loved ones. The tip for partners? Be incredibly patient with the mother of your children during this time and validate her feelings. Then, put into practice little tools you both can use to diffuse situations made worse by her lingering worry.
14. “Your mom is annoying AF.”
I was surprised at how many mamas seem to agree on this one thing. Most will never admit out loud that their in-laws are driving them insane – but judging from my doula experience and witnessing the dynamic between a mom and her mother-in-law right after birth – things can get sticky, fast.
The true culprit of this relationship going sour seems to be unsolicited advice and not keeping boundaries. I have no big tips on how to chill your MIL out, but one big thing that helps is having your spouse/partner stick up for you in awkward situations or communicate your family’s wishes.
13. “I’m not really into the sex we have.”
While men may rely on their testosterone to kick them into gear when the thought of love making crosses their mind, they also heavily rely on one other thing most mothers don’t have (much of, anyway). What I’m referencing to is the other big S word that is often lost on parents – S L E E P.
Sleep will steal your patience, your romance, and yep, you guessed it – most moms who aren’t really into having sex, even when they kids are down and out, admit that, if given the choice between sex and sleep, they’d rather choose sleep.
12. “Sometimes, I just want my own mom.”
Moms can’t take sick days – and even if your partner is very involved and splits the housework and childrearing with you, we all know a woman will still push herself to do more than she should when she doesn’t feel great. This is likely because society is still centred on the idea that a mama should take care of it all – and globally, still to this day, women buy into it.
All that time spent with children can get isolating, and we often reflect on what our own mothers must have gone through raising us – especially if they didn’t have their own mom tribe to confide in. Even if we’re 30+ years old, there are moments women pine for our own moms to come by, tuck us into bed, and just cuddle our stresses away. Or just have them pop over to babysit our littles so we can take a break – that’ll work, too.
11. “I really dislike your friends.”
After kids, you create a new identity for yourself that your own friends eventually will come to know. Since a lot of us don’t have the same amount of contact with our partner’s friends, when we do see them, it often feels like they’re from a different solar system. Things they say don’t always sit well with us, and although they aren’t to blame, they also don’t catch onto hints that they aren’t welcomed after 6 PM (baby bedtime).
Moms I’ve spoken to feel at odds the most when our partner’s friends aren’t parents themselves. This type of situation puts your significant other in an odd spot when they have to explain why another invite to a weekend away or spontaneous get together at the pub after work is declined. The truth remains that there is no comparison between being a couple without kids and being a couple with kids. One is all about doing whatever you want, whenever you want. The other will allot you maybe one weekend a year to be selfish and spend the night away from your kids – and that’s only if you plan for it months in advance.
10. “I feel lonely even with a full house of people.”
The sentiment of feeling lonely is huge amongst women – even those in committed relationship or marriages – and not just in the postpartum period. Feelings like you don’t belong seem to dominate all areas of a woman’s life after she welcomes a child into this world. Partners may not understand how a person can feel alone when constantly with their adorable baby or alongside their partner – and in turn, may get insulted at the idea they aren’t doing enough to curb those feelings from appearing.
Yes, times have changed from the 1950s, where women were much more suppressed in terms of opportunities and childcare. But there is so much more work to be done to lift the spirits of all of us who feel an existential crisis gearing its ugly head every time our toddler has a meltdown over not having a cracker (that s/he asked for just a second ago).
9. “I still want another baby – even if you don’t.”
If the extent of mom metamorphosis varies amongst women, it must vary even more amongst men (or partners). Some times we think we will love being a parent, trusting our nurturing instincts will just take over and steer the unknown territory for us. Other times, we enter parenthood thinking, “What the F did I sign up for?” and rely on a lot of winging it to make it to and through our kid’s teenage years (hint: it’s more often than not the second one).
We welcome initial parenthood in a different way than we might welcome the coming of a second or third baby, too. Mother Nature has this thing with causing our ovaries to twitch right around the time that we feel our life is finally regaining some balance again after baby #1. And the truth is – a lot of people are completely fine with the thought of raising an only child – easy on the mind and the wallet, am I right? From what I gathered, mamas out there who pine for another little one are most at war with a partner who is dead-set on not re-living the whole infant stage. My suggestion? Give it a little time and try to explain the benefits of growing your family from a rational point of view – men seem to smell our emotions from miles away and are always more hesitant to talk when we’re riled up.
8. “I wish we had more time alone before we had kids.”
I think every couple has that big aha moment where they discuss what in the world they did with all that free time before kids. Remember when you dared to say out loud that you were “bored”? You definitely get a new appreciation for alone time once your plans become centred around that newborn you just met (and have to keep around for the next 18+ years).
Whoever happens to be the primary caretaker of the baby (and let’s face it – it’s still mom most of the time) easily begins fantasizing about that time before baby. From sleeping in to liberating road trips, the time you have as a couple before kids is a period a lot of us would like back – even if just for a day. Admit that out loud and some judgemental souls may twist your words, dubbing you that person who regrets having kids. Nope…I don’t know one mama out there who regrets her beautiful, chaotic children. But we definitely dream about taking a break and about the period where breaks seemed endless. Many mamas also admit they wish they had time to get to know their partner more and discuss in more detail how they’d parent together before your kids actually arrived – since parenthood can often wedge you apart and leave you frazzled on making decisions in the moment.
7. “I feel like I have to keep it together – for everyone’s sake – and it’s exhausting.”
Mothers are warriors. We do what we have to do – because there is no choice when it comes to loving your child. But the kind of love that they teach us about in fairy tales is not the kind of love that raising a wildling who is to become a well-adjusted and kind human requires. Moms often need to dish out tough love and can stomach it harder than their own child – we only do it because we know our children need to learn about boundaries.
Invisible mental work, like keeping everyone’s schedules from overlapping, planning for hectic mornings the night before, and always being one step ahead of running out of snacks, is exhausting. Add keeping a home somewhat clean, planning nutritious meals (aka dealing with picky eaters), and the other essentials of parenting and you risk going into overdrive. Mamas often ask themselves, “Who will do it if they won’t?” and forget to do one simple thing – simply drop our pride and ask for help. We can’t expect our kids to think like an adult and take care of themselves – so communicating your burn out to your partner is incredibly important for everyone’s sake. Remember – your partner is capable. A little trust goes a long way, so let the control go and lean on him or her.
6. “I can’t wait to go on a vacation – by myself.”
Secretly all mothers dream of times alone – whether that means heading on a week-long all inclusive trip to the Bahamas or having a blissful 20 minutes in the bath without a child tugging at us. Admitting it out loud, however, will surely offend someone or other who feels like they need to remind you that “this is the life you chose to have“. Has there ever been a more annoying sentence? Actually…no, I didn’t choose this knowing well enough what it would be like. If I truly knew what never peeing in peace again would be like, I probably would’ve weighed the pros and cons of parenthood a tiny bit more.
Here’s the thing, though. Mothers taking time to be by themselves have an opportunity to reflect on how they’ve been parenting – we never get that time usually, because our minds are running at 150 miles per hour. When we are allowed to actually think a full thought without any Cheerios being flung at our heads or other interruptions – an amazing thing happens. We begin to digest what chaos we’ve been exposed to and come to terms with feelings that we haven’t had time to deal with while balancing the family – giving us an opportunity to grow. It isn’t only our toddlers that need a time out sometimes – in reality, it’s moms who benefit from one the most.
5. “I don’t feel sexy anymore – and need you to remind me I am.”
Unsure emotions towards our body are bound to surface at some point after having given birth. Most ladies will gain 35 or more pounds, carry around a human and complete life support system being inside of them, and dispel them in a fortnight – so how could it not take a toll on both the mind and body? Moms I’ve talked to about feeling less than hot in the postpartum period – and some years after – complained mostly about clothes not fitting properly (and having no time to find some that did), sagging skin, stretch marks in random places, and
However, not feeling attractive anymore is more than just some numbers on a scale or our physical appearance. It’s incredibly easy to start putting yourself second if you centre your life about putting others first – which motherhood tends to be about. Things like showering, brushing our hair, or putting on anything that isn’t made from a super stretchy material become a norm for most of us. The tip is to slowly introduce again what has over time gone to the wayside – and to let your partner in on it. Our man can’t possibly read our minds and probably finds us sexier than ever – but not being confident in yourself puts out a certain energy that has men worried it’s their fault that you don’t want to get busy.
4. “Sometimes I’m jealous of people without kids.”
Research has been done to measure who is actually more satisfied with their overall life – those who have kids or those who don’t. While parents are making long-term investments in having children, the initial years especially can cause extreme changes in your main relationship(s) and build feelings of resentment towards people who seem to be having, well, a better time than you are. Part of the problem is that most of us don’t share the negative aspects of our lives as much as the positive. Many of us live behind a facade that acts as a protection against judgement and shaming – when the truth is, it’s innately human to have both good and bad days, feelings and experiences – whether you’re a parent or not.
If you’re a mama and long for spontaneous plans and talking to your spouse about more than just the kids (even when you do find some time to be alone), open up the dialogue to see how you can bring more adult time into your family life. If you’re both dedicated to it and welcome the idea of having your kids babysat, you could schedule a monthly, or even bi-monthly outing, to get a taste of life without kids. It’ll serve as enough of a reminder that you can have your cake, and eat it too. You just need to work harder at it than most.
3. “You really aren’t my number one priority anymore.”
I’ve heard it over and over again – when men are asked who the most important person in their life is they’ll likely name their wife. Women, on the other hand, will give you a strange look and matter-of-factly state, “My children, of course“. Matrescence, or the transition to becoming a mother, changes our brains on a molecular level. Once we come to terms with the science behind this phase of life, we understand it better and can leave our guilt at putting our partner second at the door.
While it sounds crude to say out loud, our spouses naturally will fall behind in terms of priority to us, since newborns biologically consume a mother’s time and attention the most. I still believe that strengthening the relationship your kids learn the most from (the one between their mom and dad) should be a conscious exercise you engage in every day. Then, after the littles have grown and don’t rely as much on their parents, both of you can resume your relationship on good grounds and get to know each other again, but in a totally different way.
2. “We joke about my online shopping, but it’s actually out of control.”
Next to wine consumption, I think online shopping is the next biggest thing moms I know joke around about. We’ve all seen the multitude of memes that exist poking fun at our lack of me-time and fighting that urge to lock ourselves into a bathroom to drink all the wine. But there may be just as many memes about hiding our Amazon Prime deliveries before our spouse gets home.
I know personally that the convenience of buying things with the click of a button is priceless – especially if you have a baby and toddler clinging to you for most of the day. However, there is definitely a level of constraint you have to uphold in order to not go overboard – and that slope can get slippery, fast. To prevent this from happening, tally your spent amounts for the last month and the reality check might have you actually logging out of your account and indicating the browser should not remember your log in or credit card info.
1. “When I say I’m going to do one thing – chances are I’m doing something else.”
It’s not lying to a partner, per se, but mamas definitely leave out some details when they ask to step away for a moment (or a few hours). Nothing huge or hurtful by any means, just something we want to keep as our own little secret – since what is truly and solely our own thing is so lacking as we enter motherhood.
It could mean that when we say we’re going to the mailbox, we’re actually about to cruise in the car with the windows down and the 90s R&B playing. Or it might mean that during our trip to the mall, we really will spend most of the time calling a good friend and catching up with them for over an hour more than we do any shopping.