We all beat ourselves up from time to time. Whether it’s about how much we ate or what we didn’t get done or how much money we spent, there are a million little ways to make yourself feel like a pile of steaming garbage. But I think most of us can move on from those little hiccups and realize that they aren’t failures, but just a normal part of being human.
All that goes out the window when it comes to being a mom.
The inadequacy we feel, the guilt, the shame, the what-in-the-actual-f@#k-am-I-doing, literally knows no bounds. Being a mom sometimes feels like swimming in an ocean with no bottom and trying not to get sucked into the current. And there’s not just one current, there are a million currents pulling you in different directions. And sometimes it’s hard to know which one will suck you under and which one will carry you back to a place where your feet touch the ground. And sometimes you do know and you choose the one that sucks you under because you are just so damn tired. Fine! Just have 4 bananas for dinner. I GIVE UP!
I’ve been thinking a lot about the kind of mom I want to be and how I want to parent lately…now that I’m three and a half years in and clearly should have thought about this sooner. But really I’ve been thinking about it because my little person requires very, very different things of me than he did a year ago or even six months ago. And I’m beginning to understand that just when I have it figured out, he has moved on to the next mystery phase. It’s like solving a freaking puzzle that rearranges itself entirely 5 minutes after you solve it. And throws the pieces at you. And then eats one just to spite you.
The ocean of mom guilt that I’ve been swimming in for some time now is the feeling that I need to be more present and engaged with my kid. I feel like I spend so much time trying to distract him so I can get work done and chores checked off my list and do something for my damn self and I can’t do any of it without getting smacked in the face with a big salty wave that says “YOU SHOULD BE MORE PRESENT!”
Every time I sit down to play with my kid, within a few minutes, my eyes are darting around the house noticing all the messes and my brain starts running through the list of all the things I should be doing. And I’ll be honest, sometimes I just don’t want to play Legos. No that’s a lie, almost all the time I don’t want to play Legos. I would rather do any other kind of play with my kid than Legos. It was fun at first but GO AWAY LEGOS!
It’s a horrible cycle of feeling inadequate then trying to be a better mom, whatever the hell that means, and then trying to juggle it all and feeling inadequate again. It’s like I take out a measuring stick and use it to compare myself to other moms and then beat myself with it. I only have 1 child! I should be able to manage this better. I work from home. I should be able to get more done around the house! I should be this, I should be that, I should, I should, I should!!! I’m at that place where I feel like I’m doing 300 things at once and I’m doing all of them poorly. That is an incredibly defeating feeling. It’s like I need to step off the hamster wheel I’m on and break the entire wheel to unburden myself of all these things I feel like I have to do.
And there ARE things I can unburden myself from doing. Recently, I asked my dear husband to take over laundry. I just needed to get rid of some of the household chores from my list. And he was willing to do it and didn’t complain. I asked him over the phone on his way home from work. I probably hadn’t showered and it was 5:00 and dinner wasn’t going to be ready and I was still working. I cried uncontrollably after I hung up because I felt so guilty. And I was totally shocked by my own reaction. Why did I feel so guilty that I couldn’t do everything? Why do I think it’s my job to do EVERYTHING? I’ll spare you the long-winded sidebar about the messages women receive and the expectations that society puts on us. The short answer is that it’s because I’m a woman and a mom. I must do everything and be everything to everyone and if not then I’m a failure. Phew. Saying it out loud is the first step because that’s when you realize that you are letting something define you that is completely and utterly ridiculous and impossible. And it’s a big fat lie.
So this exercise of trying to be more engaged with my kiddo unearthed some really complicated feelings and opened my eyes to a few hard truths. It’s time to let go of unrealistic expectations of myself and ask for help more. It’s time to decide what’s really important to me and do those things first. There are a lot of things that just don’t matter that take up my time. It’s time to stop multi-tasking and just focus on one FREAKING thing at a time. It’s time to find ways to play with my kid that doesn’t involve Legos and there is nothing wrong with that! It’s time for my son to see a mom and dad that have an equitable share in the family responsibilities.* He needs to see what real life looks like and that there is time for play and there is time for work. It’s time to do what works for me instead of what I think I should be doing.
It’s time to lower my expectations of myself to something a little more realistic. Trying to do all of the things does not make me a super mom. Trying to do the important things just might. But I’m not trying to be super mom anymore. I’m just trying to be a good human.
To all the moms out there, trying to do it all, some days doing it with grace and others doing it with the composure of a junkyard dog that hasn’t been fed in a week, give yourself a break and a hug. There’s only one of you. You’re awesome. Call me. Let’s go get wine. Or ice cream. Or coffee. Or take naps somewhere.
*For the record, my husband is not allergic to having an equitable share of responsibilities, I just have a hard time delegating and letting go.
I’m so so so far behind on posting because see above. I’ve got a little catch up to do on the following list, which you can see has been edited ever so slightly.
Week 20 – February 21 – 27 –
Cook more from my vast collection of cookbooks. Try a meal kit delivery service because ain’t nobody got time for that.
Week 21 – February 28 – March 6 –
Make plans more often with my girlfriends. Find a mentor. (Working on it! If you are a boss babe and you want a mentee, you know where to find me.)
Week 22 – March 7 – 13 – Go TV & non-essential phone use free for 1 week. (Yikes. I might have to overlap this with week 25)
Week 23 – March 14 – 20 – Try meditation. At least once a day for a week. See what happens. (I’m a day late but I’m starting it ASAP!)
Week 24 – March 21 – 27 – FREEBIE (TBD)
Week 25 – March 28 – April 3 – Visit a national park I haven’t been to before. (We’re off to Pinnacles National Park this week!)
Week 26 – April 4 – 10 – Update my wardrobe with a few quality pieces instead of throwing clearance items in my cart while on a Target run. (I’ve been trying out Stitch Fix – report coming soon!)