One of the most difficult things for me to reconcile as a mom has been to love who I have become as a mother, and stop feeling bad about not being the mom I thought I’d be.
Before kids we all tend to have these idyllic fantasy-like exceptions of the kinds of mothers we will be once we start having kids. You know, the ones that only buy organic cotton, make their own baby food, and still have a patient, calm demeanor when our child writes on our new couch with permanent marker.
But, for me, reality set in quickly when I had my first child and realized that I wasn’t as patient as I thought I would be, and making all my own baby food was not my passion. And, I also felt the overwhelming burden of mom-guilt set in as I failed to meet my own expectations that I had set out for myself.
If we were to try a new activity, sport, or hobby for the very first time, we would never expect ourselves to get everything right from the very beginning. If we were to encourage our kids to do something new, we also wouldn’t expect perfection out of them either. So, why do we expect that out of mothering? We shouldn’t. It’s unrealistic, and harmful to our own hormone-filled fragile egos after we have kids.
So, what’s the trick to loving the mom you actually are instead of mourning the mom you thought you’d be?
Here are some ideas:
Focus on your strengths. Every mom has strengths. Maybe you don’t love playing make-believe with your kids, but you do love cooking with them. Focus on accepting that those activities that you do love are just as worthwhile to your children as they grow.
Set goals that are achievable. So often, we set goals for ourselves that just aren’t attainable. I used to think that if I could just be a stay at home mom, I’d always have warm meals ready when my husband walked in the door, and a clean house. Ummm. Re-evaluate your goals often, and set small goals for each day that you can check off your list.
Treat yourself like you’d treat your kids. When you’re tempted to be hard on yourself as a mother, think about how you would coach your kids through something difficult. You’d encourage, uplift them, and tell them that you believe in them. Talk to yourself like you’d talk to your kids. That’s a good gauge for a healthy self-image.
Give yourself space from your kids. When my oldest was born, I never gave myself a break, and it seemed like I was so consumed with motherhood that that’s all I could focus on. I am a true believer in finding your passion and pursuing it in order to love who you are even more. You’ll be a better mom, too.
Accept that a lot of it is out of your control. For a type A personality like myself, so much of mothering little ones (and big ones) is out of my control. They have their own strong wills, and choices to make that have nothing to do with me. You will have a lot more peace that you’re doing all that you can do if you let go a little more, and accept that a lot of being a parent is out of your control.
Let go of imagining that the other moms you know don’t have struggles. It really is true that comparison can be the thief of joy. Stop looking at another mom and imaging that she has it all together and you don’t. Every mom has her own unique struggles. Stop looking to your left and to your right, and focus on what’s straight ahead and what you can do better.
Remind yourself often that doing your best is enough. After I became a mother, a lot of weaknesses of mine naturally came bubbling to the surface. It was hard to accept that I wasn’t the mother I thought I’d be. But, if I think about it, my kids aren’t necessarily the kids I thought they’d be either! I’m doing my best with what I’ve been given, and that is enough.
Your kids love you just the way you are. The truth is, your kids have faults and weaknesses, but that doesn’t change how much you love them. It’s the same way your kids feel about you. So, stop feeling bad about not being the ideal mother you thought you’d be. You are the mother they needed, which was why they were given to you. They love you just the way you are, so see yourself through their eyes, and you’ll realize you’re exactly the mom they need.
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I hope you’ll come on over to my Facebook page, or Instagram, where I love connecting with other moms who aren’t afraid to share photos of their messy houses, and commiserate about having the hardest job on earth.