Let’s face it, being a Mom is hard. We can prepare all we want and have the best intentions, but it’s not easy.
There will be many instances where you will feel like you are failing, both at life and as a mother.
Nobody is perfect and nobody expects you to be perfect.
Just do the best you can.
I know I worry some days that maybe I’m not the best person for the job, or that maybe I’m too selfish sometimes, or that I can do better…
Some days I’m not the best person for the job.
I have mental health issues, my anxiety at times takes control of my life and my emotions and can become almost unmanageable. My emotions run high, I am up-tight, on edge and angry at everything, and when it gets really bad I am in physical pain. My chest hurts so bad that I feel like I am having a heart attack – these pains can last for days or even weeks sometimes. I’ve been to the hospital and have had several tests on my heart and I have been assured that it is strong and healthy.
I used to try and hide my anxiety from my kids and fight to be stronger, fight to be “normal,” I used to get so angry at myself that I had this “weakness” that prevented me from doing my best. I would get so angry with myself for allowing my demons get the best of me and I would try to cover it up and force it away, but as expected that would always make it worse. I’m slowly starting to embrace my mental health challenges. I started being open with my kids about my challenges and the most amazing thing happened. When I stopped fighting and trying to resist the feelings and I started accepting what was and letting them see the real ME, the strangest thing happened… their behaviour did a complete flip. In moments of noticeable anxiety, they went from high energy little monkeys, doing whatever they could to push my buttons to these kind, loving and accepting little rays of light, smothering me with love. When my anxiety starts to get the best of me, I sit down with them and tell them that Mommy is having a hard time and that I am trying really hard to stay positive, but right now what I really need is some love and cuddles. Their entire demeanor softens and they just start to exude love and empathy.
I have bad days just like everyone else, but I still love my kids with every ounce of my being, nothing can ever change that. Our kids need to know that we are human and we will screw up, we have emotions and we hurt just the same as they do. Letting them see that helps them understand life just a little bit more.
Sometimes I am selfish.
Listen up, Mama, you can’t fill from an empty cup and every once in a while, Mama needs a damn break! And that’s perfectly ok and a totally acceptable request! Life is hard. Parenting is hard. Being a Mom is exhausting and can sometimes be go-go-go. If we don’t take breaks here and there and take care of ourselves, we will eventually break down. And nobody needs a mommy breakdown, because those are never fun. Trust me on this one.
Take some time for YOU. It doesn’t have to be lavish or extravagant, it can be simple and cheap and/or free.
- Buy the fancy creamer for your coffee. Hell, by the fancy coffee for yourself – My coffee is my morning life blood. I want to enjoy it to the greatest extent of my being and by god if I want to spend an extra $3 / week on having that extra little bit of luxury in the morning, I will. That’s mine and mine alone and it makes me happy, so why the hell not.
- Take an afternoon to disconnect and go for a nature walk / hike. Take some time to yourself to enjoy a couple hours of fresh air, sunshine and no endless questions, no cleaning, and no worries. Just be.
- Go to the spa. This one costs a little bit extra, but if you’re going 1x/month of 1x every couple months, it’s not all that bad. I like having my nails done. It makes me feel beautiful and somewhat put together, so I take that $30 every 6 weeks and I go get myself a manicure.
- Go to a yoga class. I’m a little peace, zen, and a little go f* yourself…. seriously though, when my anxiety gets really bad, I need my yoga. I need my mediation. I need my zen or I’ll snap. If money is tight, inquire with your local studios about an energy exchange program – you do some work for them 1x / week for a “free” membership. It doesn’t discharge you from “work” per-say, but it gives you an out and some classes to get your butt to to help you relax a bit. Otherwise, YouTube is a great resource as well.
Some days I can do better.
We all can. You’ve got this Mama. Put yourself in a Mommy time out – tell your kids you are taking a Mommy time out. “I am having a hard time at the moment so I am going to take a timeout in my room for a few minutes so I can settle down. Please leave me alone until I am ready.” Take some deep breaths, reflect, and start again.
Never be afraid to apologize for acting out of character or getting frustrated. Your kids need to know that it is ok to have rough moments every once in a while. If we pretend to that it didn’t happen and neglect to explain WHY it happened forget to explain to them why it is we get upset or why we lose our shit every once in a while, how will they ever know or learn to understand.
I have no problem apologizing to my kids. I know when I screw up and I own it. If I don’t show them that I can do it, how can I expect THEM to do it.
“Listen, I know I got really angry there and I am sorry. I get really frustrated when… [insert reason for anger here]. I should have not taken it out on you and I am sorry.” If they say, it’s ok mama, we understand, I tell them “no baby, it’s not ok. It’s never ok for someone to get so angry and frustrated with you. I need to learn how to manage my emotions better and I am really trying. I am sorry.”
I do things like this because I feel it is important to teach them that “sorry” doesn’t fix everything. Yes, it is needed and is mandatory in these situations, but it does not excuse bad behaviour or poor decisions.
Here’s a lesson… take a plate and smash it on the ground. Now apologize to the plate. Did it fix the broken pieces? Didn’t think so. Try again. Now pick the plate up and glue the pieces back together. Did it fix the plate? Yes, but the damage has already been done. Over time, with repeated behaviour and no conditioning, eventually the plate will no longer be fixable. Put the work in early on to help prevent future irreparable damage.
Facing our own issue can suck. It can such big time, but we need to show up for our kids and ensure they are receiving the best message.
Our goal as a parent should be to help create an adult that does not have to recover from their childhood.
We are all winging it here, there are no one-size-fits parenting manuals that teach you how to be a great parent. We are always learning, always evolving, and always growing. Each child is unique and wonderful in their own light. A parenting style that works for one family will not work for you. It’s important to take the time to slow down and listen. When you understand what your kids need from you you can show up and be a better parent for them and inevitably the relationship and struggles will improve.
An incredible Einstein quote that really put things into perspective for me:
Be patient with yourself.
Lead from a place of love. Stop fearing judgement. Get down on their level and learn about who they are as a person. You will be absolutely astonished at what you learn. Kids are so amazing and they are so much more that what we give them credit for. My kids come up with stuff all the time that leaves me speechless. The depth of their knowledge and understanding is mind-blowing.
Remember, it’s ok to have bad days… we all do. We are human after all.