A new paper, published earlier this year in the journal Developmental Psychology, suggests that the hardest time for mothers isn’t when their children are in early childhood, but later — when their children reach middle school.

In the early years, when motherhood is often portrayed as especially demanding, mothers reported high levels of parenting “overload.” … But they also reported high levels of positive behaviors from their children and relatively high levels of parenting satisfaction overall. …

By the time children reached adulthood, mothers reported significantly lower levels of parenting overload and guilt but maintained relatively high levels of parenting satisfaction.

By the time children reached adulthood, mothers reported significantly lower levels of parenting overload and guilt but maintained relatively high levels of parenting satisfaction. …

It was between these two periods that mothers reported the highest levels of dissatisfaction with parenting, with mothers of middle-school children representing the peak.

Source: Think Mothering Young Kids Is Hard? Get Ready For Even Tougher Times : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR