As moms, we feel like we have to be everything to everyone. We’re constantly striving to be that perfect, do-it-all mom. Add a career, maintaining a fulfilled marriage/love life to the mix and it seems impossible at times. The relentless nature of the work can drive you to tears. Keeping up with everything all of the time is pretty much fighting a losing battle. And sometimes, it’s hard to enjoy the time with our little ones when our brains can never “turn off.” I don’t know about you, but my head feels like it’s about to explode some days.
Being a mom is magical. Having children is a gift and a miracle. I love being a mom, but it’s not all sunshine, rainbows, and roses all of the time. There are so many challenges and joys, so many conflicting feelings, so many self-doubts that we experience as moms. Unfortunately, motherhood is so often judged that we’re often afraid to tell our stories. But in not sharing our struggles, we end up feeling alone. Some of you may feel guilty about expressing your despair over how truly hard being a mom is. But we need to get real. Motherhood is hard! Like really f-ing hard. We should never feel alone while moving through it.
If there’s one thing us moms have mastered, it’s giving ourselves a good old guilt trip. We are our own worst critics. We have this idealized view of what a mother should be, so we expect far more out of ourselves than anyone else. Having such expectations means that we’ll never be able to live up to our exacting and unrealistic mom standards. It’s also very easy to get wrapped up in what our fellow mamas are doing and what we think we’re not doing. That nagging voice inside our head tells us that we’re probably failing at least 50% of the time. I know we’ve all had feelings of inadequacy as moms – feelings of am I doing it right? Am I doing it well? Am I doing enough? I’ve had my share of days where I wonder if I’m screwing it all up. Days that I’ve been in the trenches and felt so completely defeated that I just wanted to run away. We’ve all been there.
“Unfortunately, motherhood is so often judged that we’re often afraid to tell our stories.”
The “mommy load” is so overwhelming. We definitely take multi-tasking to a new and insane level! We’re expected to do so many tasks and do them perfectly (with a to-do list a mile long that never seems to end). I feel like I am constantly trying to keep up with the laundry, the housework, the bills, and a million other things. I feel like I’m running some sort of race that never ends, but somehow I’m still always behind. A messy and cluttered environment makes me feel even more anxious, which has caused me to lose some of the joy in motherhood somewhere along the way. Some days, I lose my cool with my kids and then feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. It’s hard to be a fun, cool, and happy mom when you’re always trying to keep the house afloat and your mind is cluttered with X, Y, and Z.
I know that every mom struggles with juggling it all, but while trying to be Supermom, we end up missing the journey. And then, with that, the mommy guilt creeps in. Often times, when I’m with my children, I feel like there are so many things to get done that I don’t cherish those little moments. It can be so hard to press pause on everything and truly BE there. But you know what? The dishes will always be there. The laundry will always be there. But the kids won’t be this age again and the days of not stepping on any Legos will come! Soon, they will be off doing their own thing and then we’ll miss the mess and the chaos. It will all be too still. We will no longer be needed. So, lately, I’ve been trying really hard not to sweat the small stuff and allowing myself to let things go and just be thankful for a family to do laundry for and having a home to make mess in.
It’s all too easy to get burned out and get overwhelmed by our own expectations. But we need to cut ourselves some slack and leave the chores for just a little while. It’s so important that we take a step back, catch our breath, and truly enjoy our little blessings. The fact is, we all lose ourselves in our day-to-day world and sometimes we don’t chose the right thing, or we miss something that was directly in front of us. So what about the laundry? So what about the dishes? Besides, is what we’re stressing about going to matter in 10 minutes, 10 hours, 10 weeks or 10 months from now? It’s perfectly fine to take a minute and not worry about the thousands of things that need to be done. And if something doesn’t get done, it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t make us bad moms. Note to self: Listen to my own advice. See, this why I love to write!
Obviously, once we have kids, our wants and needs become secondary – it’s what we signed up for. But becoming a mother is an extension of our identity, not the end of it. My kids are now 9 and 13, which makes them more independent (it’s nice, yet terrifying, at the same time), so I’m somewhat able to reclaim my time. But when they were younger, I loved them to the point of putting my own needs on the back burner. I forgot to love myself and I fell into a really dark place. My therapist helped to remind me how absolutely necessary it is for me to have my own downtime and that it is OK to ask for help from my husband. (I’m a bit Type-A, so I like to get things done – my way). It also makes a world of difference that our daughter can now babysit our son and pitch in around the house. My girl is awesome.
A Mommy’s Time-Out is a well-deserved break. We all need them sometimes. Some of you are probably still working on how to take one and not feel bad about it. I totally understand how disorienting it is to turn off the “responsibility” switch and turn on the “focus on myself” switch. But what a wonderful reminder – we must take care of ourselves in order to take care of others. Simply put: we’ve got to put our own oxygen mask on first before saving others. Because when we’re worn out, we don’t appreciate what is in front of us (voice of experience here). As moms, we must do what makes us happy once in a while and set aside the guilt that is attached with finding those moments. We desperately need that time to just reset. Don’t forget – a happy mommy equals a happy family! I now set that “me time” aside and protect it with everything I have. I need it for my sanity. And, no, I don’t feel guilty about it.
The key to being less stressed and celebrating the joy in parenthood begins with self-care. It isn’t selfish – it’s the true meaning of thriving rather than just surviving. It’s easy to lose yourself in motherhood, but it is possible to find her again. Just give yourself permission to put YOU on the to-do list. Go out and enjoy something that only you want to do, be that a Girls’ Night Out, a long walk, a pedicure, or a Pilates class. For me, I have found solitude in taking long walks as I write. And realize that it’s OK to say “No” when someone asks you to add one more thing to your plate. The older I’ve gotten, the easier it has become for me to say, “No.” And, no, I don’t feel guilty about that either.
Motherhood is living in imperfection – there is no perfect, there is only real. It’s impossible to do all, be all. We can’t do it all and we don’t need to. For life will pass us by and we’ll look back with regret. No headstone inscription will tout our immaculate kitchen or our laundry skills. I am far from being perfect, but knowing that my children love me as I am is enough. One of my favorite mommy mantras is: “There’s no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one” -Jill Churchill. And you are the perfect mama for your children. You may not be the “perfect, do-it-all mom” that society tells you should be, but know that you are more than enough. So, hold your head up high because your dedication to your children is making our world a better place to live in.
Motherhood is a unique journey for each of us. But there’s no room for guilt in it – we’re all just trying our best. We must stop being so hard on ourselves. We should be celebrating our strengths while asking for help with our weaknesses. And, please don’t EVER apologize for taking a break once in a while from doing the most important and hardest job in the world that doesn’t come with an instruction manual. We need the same measure of love, care and affection that we give to our family. We have to be able to let go of the unrealistic mom standards, be true to ourselves, take care of and love ourselves. Let’s bring the happy back by taking those time-outs – we’ll be such better mamas for it.
We’re all in this motherhood thing together. Bless you all.💞