I get it. Motherhood is overwhelming and as a mom of two young children, I’ve had to unpack many layers of what being a good mom means. Not only are you trying to ensure they are safe, healthy, and happy, but there’s an added pressure to help them be strong, resilient, resourceful and kind, and that is a lot to carry around.
Just like any season in life, motherhood has its ups and downs. There will be days when you are well-rested, your temper is easy to keep at bay, and you can truly be present in the moments that bring you joy. However, there are also days when you’re exhausted and feel like you are in survival mode, trying to balance everyone’s needs and make it to bedtime. The truth is, as our kids age, I don’t know that it gets any better. Just as their independence sets in, so do new challenges.
Some days you will feel like you’re balancing everything well and that you were able to be present and enjoy most aspects of the day. And some days, you may give in, serve the store-bought puree or give them the soother, because that is what you needed to do to survive the day. There is nothing wrong with that. What you need to understand is that it is not about showing up as your best self every day, it is about showing up as the best version of yourself at that moment on that day.
There will be times when you’ll be presented with a problem and your first reaction is to think it’s catastrophic. Maybe your child failed a math test. Your first thought may be to overreact, yell at them for not being focused and punish them. Consider that problems are opportunities to learn and grow. Before jumping to worst-case scenarios and “what if” conclusions, perhaps think about what were the circumstances around the math test.
The first step is to breathe and give yourself space to calm down. When we de-escalate ourselves, we can often use our more rational minds to examine a situation more clearly. Here’s the thing: when we are modelling behaviours for our children we are often inadvertently modelling for ourselves too. Over time, this modelling becomes a learned behaviour.
When you question your worth or ability as a mother, ask yourself what you would say to a friend in the same situation. Would you be as hard on them? Would you consider them a bad parent, or judge them knowing that there may be many circumstances impacting their anxiety and stress levels in the same situation? Perhaps it's time to show ourselves a bit more compassion for the job we are doing.
Just like the flight attendant says when you board the plane, you are to put on your oxygen mask first before you tend to the others around you. Putting yourself first when it comes to your mental health is no different. While it may not be possible for your to escape for a spa day, you still have the ability to carve out moments for yourself, but you have to make that a priority! Even if it means locking yourself in the bathroom for 2 mins to eat that sandwich, or putting your headphones in discretely as your 3-year-old sings “Let it Go” at the top of her lungs for the 8000 time.
As children age, so do their opinions. and guess what, they won’t always jive with yours. Over your lifespan, you have encountered many types of people. Some you get along with, and others are simply not a good fit. It is no different in parenthood. Three things I have learned are to pick my battles wisely, understand when to collaborate on solving a problem, and when to pull the authority card. Sometimes, for the greater good, you are going to have to be firm, which can be uncomfortable.
In case you needed a reminder, there is no right way to parent, or navigate the journey. There are resources and support to help you feel more confident and comfortable in tackling the challenges. If you are looking for someone to speak with regarding your parenting struggles, Shift has therapists that would love to work with you!
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