Spoiler alert: being a mom is hard.
“Uh DUH,” say all the moms, as they proceed to roll their eyes and face palm.
But let’s talk about this real quick. Being a mom—a parent (dads too)—is incredibly hard. And while I understood that before I became a mom, I think I spent the first few months of Olivia’s life really struggling to grasp what in the world I had gotten myself into. She was filling my life with an indescribable amount of love and joy while simultaneously roundhouse kicking my personal sense of self-worth and confidence.
I had to work through some post-partum depression and my struggle with perfectionism while trying to figure out what motherhood looked like for me.
It was hard.
But I wasn’t alone. And the community that surrounded me helped me realize a few things that (spoiler alert) I, as a new mom, was already doing. I just needed a reminder.
So if you’re having a tough mom day (or week, let’s be real here), here are a few things to remember, and let me tell you, remembering them has certainly helped me be a better mom. And a happier one.
Stop the Comparisons:
Your kids need you. They need to watch and learn from you. They need your strengths (and even your weaknesses) in their life. They need your personality. I’ve spent far too much time questioning whether or not I’m even capable of raising a tiny human being, and our cyber world makes it easy to compare my messy living room lifestyle to another mom’s perfectly organized television cabinet and kitchen. You are already the mom that your kids love and need. So enough with the If only I was a bit more like her self-talk. In order to be a better mom than you were the day before, quite comparing yourself to others.
Care for Yourself:
Yes! Love yourself. Care for yourself. It’s tough to give of yourself on a daily basis when you’re so emptied from exhaustion that you have nothing to give. So celebrate who you are. Nurture and cultivate the things you love to do. As Olivia grows older, I want her to know all about the hobbies that I enjoy. I want her to know that while I am Mom, I’m also Grace, and Grace has a lot of talents and skills and interests that she loves apart from being Mom. Care for yourself and value yourself. Sure, that may look different within each season of life. But it should nevertheless be a constant within each season.
There is no perfect mom and there is no perfect child. No relationship is perfect. So forget perfection and all of its stagnant boringness. Many of life’s most beautiful moments arise from the ashes of life’s most challenging and imperfect moments. So be kind to yourself. Motherhood is like climbing a mountain to a peak we rarely see. Not every step will be easy, and each of us are climbing in different ways with different sets of equipment. Take a moment to breathe, to give yourself some grace, and to even enjoy the view from wherever you find yourself on the journey before you continue to climb on.
Learn From Your Kids:
It’s surprising how much I’ve learned from my 7 month old infant, even though she spends most of her time cramming toys into her mouth and rolling her baby pudge all over the floor. She offers what many would say is “little” in return for all of the things I do for her on a daily basis. Sure, she’ll give me some smiles and coo on occasion, but I choose to care for her and love her without conditions—without certain expectations that I believe she needs to follow in exchange for my services. Talk about a lesson in what “unconditional love” really looks like.
Learning from your kids is humbling. Kids can be bluntly truthful. They can be imaginative, adventurous, forgiving, and compassionate. They can also be little devils. Either way, they are people and have things to teach us. Be a better mom by confidently humbling yourself and learn something new from your baby.
Find Joy in the Ordinary:
It’s easy to look to the next big event or trip or move or party or vacation as the moment when motherhood and life for your family will be meaningful. But we all know that life isn’t a collection of big moments; they certainly make an appearance, but life is a thick scrapbook of ordinary moments. Evening walks to the park. That time you spilled spaghetti sauce on your shirt. Buying your baby her first outfit. Playing board games with your friends. Listening to your 7 month old bang a wooden spoon on your pots and pans. Kids can find joy in the ordinary. And we should too.
Guess what, moms. You’re probably already doing these things. Like me, you just needed a reminder. A little something to get your “mom-fidence” back. So keep up the good and hard work. I’m in your corner.