We mothers, whether working or staying at home, have this horrible tendency to beat ourselves up and never feel we quite measure up. Many times there is the push and pull between who we were (thinner, more energetic, more [fill in the blank]), and who we are now—or believe we should be. Mommy wars be damned. We are all in the trenches.
And though it’s not easy, try, starting today, to quit beating yourself up over these three things. You may find other things to quit making yourself miserable over and hopefully you do, but these are a good start.
Feeling like you’re failing
If you’re a working mom, chances are, after working all day, you go to daycare, get your child, go home and try to spend a couple of hours with him or her before they go to bed (and maybe to sleep, but that could be a crapshoot). You struggle with frustration of not seeing friends as often, or doing things as efficiently as you used to. Meanwhile, you are so tired, you don’t feel like you’ve got the energy you wish you had for your child, your spouse, or really anyone.
If you are a SAHM, there is this perception that “all” you have to do is take care of the kids. After an entire day of pouring your energy into your child, or children, sometimes it’s all you can do not to collapse from frustration, exhaustion, or both. Maybe you get to see your friends, or at least those with kids, but it’s not the same. You try to keep things up at home, but it can be a grind. At the end of the day, you are so tired and probably don’t feel like you’ve got the energy you wish you had for your children, your spouse, or really anyone.
Stop feeling overwhelmed and realize you really are doing your best. Are your children alive and happy? Yes? Check. House not in order and a gourmet dinner not prepared nightly? Who cares. Listen mamas, you aren’t failing. You are human. Stop feeling overwhelmed and realize you are just doing the best you can and surviving each day, regardless of how that day is filled. Truth.
Judging yourself against standards that aren’t real
We all encounter those Perfect Moms. They are always well put together, looking like they are about to meet their numerous girlfriends for lunch, or they just came in from a run, though without the sweat and “exercise hair”. They are happy and their kids pretty much always behave well as yours behaves horribly. Their Facebook, (or shall we say, at times, “fakebook”), page is filled with pictures of happy children, vacations in beautiful locations, and frequent nights out with smiling friends. Inside you compare yourself to the image of Perfect Mom, berate yourself and feel “less than”. Why can’t you be as together as Perfect Mom? Why didn’t your kid just go into daycare without a meltdown? Why can’t you remember the last time you wore exercise clothes and exercised? Why?? Stop. Put down the bowl of ice cream, ok, it’s really a glass of wine, and just stop.
Perfect Moms, intentionally or not, make us all feel insecure. You don’t see pictures of when Perfect Child went nuclear over having to wear pants, or smeared poop all over her room. Those jewels don’t tend to make social media. Though it can be hard to do, be good with you. To hell with wanting to be like Perfect Mom. Perfect Mom is probably not Perfect Mom. I’ll say it again. You are doing your best. As long as you know that to be true, who cares about measuring up to an illusion.
Everyone generally believes their child is exceptional and maybe yours is. As a parent, whether you work or stay at home, it seems we are constantly comparing ourselves to other parents and our children to other children. Did Junior start walking as soon as Sally? Is Sally talking better than Junior? It’s a maddening, never ending competition and no one wins. It’s not to say that you don’t want to help your child be the best and most accomplished version of themselves, but stop beating yourself up because your kid isn’t reading Proust at age three or the star of the soccer team. Because your child is in daycare, that doesn’t necessarily mean they suffer from less parental attention. Because you stayed at home with your child, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are less socially adept. We have to stop the conscious or subsconscious need to compete with eachother and with eachother’s kids. It’s insanity. See the insanity for what it is. Just stop it. You—and your child—will probably be much happier.
Much has been made of the Mommy Wars and the supposed judgments of those who work versus those who don’t. Oh, motherhood can feel like a war, enduring one battle after another, but the truth is that regardless of how you fill your day, in many ways, we are all in the same trenches. So to all the mothers, congratulations on doing your best today and just surviving. You rock.