There’s a time in parenthood that you start having flashbacks. Tell me how familiar this sounds .. “I will never let my kids act like that .. eat like that .. speak like that .. play that way with other kids. I will never let my kid have a binky, or for that long. I will breastfeed. I will make my own baby food.” Let’s just be honest and admit it. On the outside, when it wasn’t us yet, we just knew – we would do it better.
Oh man, how I have eaten my words (well they were mostly just thoughts) over and over again. Every time my 2 1/2 year old refuses to eat anything but chicken nuggets I cringe thinking of all my pre-mom judgements about other moms that just let their kids rule the roost. Well let me set the record straight, our two year old is definitely the boss! Okay, I exaggerate, but many days it feels that way. My mommy hopes and dreams are so often checked into the reality that I have a very strong willed child that is very clear about what he will and will not do, like only eat chicken nuggets for months straight.
I see it all the time, I feel it constantly, and all too often I have been guilty of it myself, MOM SHAMING. There’s something that happens when you have a baby. You not only birth 8 lbs of precious baby but you also birth a 100 lb load of mom guilt. And like your baby growing, so does that guilt. We wake up and go to sleep feeling like we’re not doing enough, or we’re not doing it right, or worse, that other people think the same things about us. What is it that causes such guilt? Is it the difference in our imagination of parenthood and the reality of what really is? Is it the guilt we feel about being and doing enough as a parent that we criticize others with the same expectations? I think the biggest lesson I have learned since having multiple kids is, there is no cookie cutter child, thus; no cookie cutter parenting. My stepson could not be more different than my two year old, and my twins each are so different not only from my two year old but from each other. And just when I think I understand how to parent, I realize that I know nothing. What worked for my stepson when he was a baby, doesn’t work for my two year old. I was blown away after I had my twins because they are so much harder than my first baby. I didn’t even know he was a good baby until I had hard babies. This has me thinking; when we are seeking advice from other parents, or worse, freely giving our own parenting advice, are we keeping in mind how different all these kids are? They’re like humans, already! I think mommin’ with other moms is part great and part torturous. Only other moms can relate to what it’s like to be a mom. Because, frankly, everything changes when you become a mom; where you eat, what you wear, your routine, your sleep, or lack thereof. However, once you start sharing stories, you notice the differences, the comparison game starts, and then there’s that ugly mom guilt again. Am I doing enough?? She’s doing that, should I be? Oh man, how long should I have been doing that? I know social media and pinterest have been major contributors to this. We constantly have pictures and stories to compare ourselves to. Everyone online looks like they have it all together. It’s not often we put our less than glorious moments online, and for multiple reasons.
First, though it’s humanly easier to complain than praise, the rules are opposite online. It’s socially acceptable to share our good moments and socially awkward to show our bad ones. I find so many people have adopted this into their personal lives as well. When we are only sharing the good moments, we are missing the opportunity to connect and relate with the difficult ones, making us silent sufferers. We feel like we are the only ones not doing it right, having a hard time. If you’re like me, I need to talk it out! I need to know I’m not alone in these feelings and struggles that come with raising little humans.
I think another reason we don’t share our less than glorious moments publicly is we don’t want to be seen as doing things wrong. You know what I’m talking about, right? The mom that shares her ugly moments has you thinking, if that’s public, what’s going on behind the scenes? Maybe it’s not that dramatic, maybe it’s just that we see them as complainers or not grateful for their kids. Especially those moms (like myself) that tried and waited for years to be able to conceive. How can those moms complain? Simple : we/they are human!! Another reason is the worst of them all – mom shaming. Just look at any mom group out there. You say or do anything someone doesn’t agree with, then you get attacked! I recently experienced it myself and very quickly removed my question/post from the group.
I’ve thought long and hard about how moms can help ease the dreaded Mom Guilt.
Find a friend you can be real with!
I am so thankful for my best friend and sisters. I let it all out. What I think I’m doing right, what I am concerned I’m not, laughing at total mom moments (like how my baby just peed all over me, in public), the exhaustion, the overwhelming love for my babies, the silly moments, the sad moments, the downright hard moments. I think it is extremely therapeutic to be able to talk about the realness of parenting. The picture perfect moments are the highlights and certainly do not capture what’s really been going on lately.
Set goals and achieve them
I’ve really been working on guiding my day versus letting the day guide me. The difference I find is at the end of the day I celebrate with myself for the things set out to do and achieved with my kids. Otherwise, I feel guilty at the end of the day for not doing enough of this or doing too much of that. When I wake up with a general goal for my day, I feel accomplishment more than guilt.
Slow down and enjoy the moment.
We live in a go go go world. Even I’m not going anywhere or doing anything, I feel the need to fill that space. Sometimes I catch myself and have to do some self talking to allow myself to slow down and just enjoy my littles, while they’re little.
Continue to follow your mommy gut. No one knows how to mom your babies like you do.
I am pretty stubborn and like to do things my way naturally. But, this I especially feel strongly about. God made me (just like he made you) to be the mama of my babies. We certainly don’t have a how to book (gah, wouldn’t that be nice) and don’t have all the answers. But I do believe the convictions we feel regarding our kids is important to follow. Keep doing your mommy thing, you’re doing a great job!
Take time for just you!
Okay, this is one I need to work on myself. But we need time away from our kiddos to just be us! What can you do to refresh and enjoy some “me” time? Mine is some quiet time working on this talking to you all, reading a book, listening to a podcast, or just taking a walk alone.