Not a day goes by where I don’t feel like I’m failing at some aspect of motherhood. I wish I was more patient. I wish I didn’t yell. I wish my son would eat a vegetable. I wish my daughter didn’t ask for water 17 times every night before bed….sigh.
Every day I talk to remarkable, strong women who tell me they feel the same way. They feel overwhelmed by too much homework. They feel inadequate thanks to deep-seated self-doubt passed down from generation to generation. They feel resentful of other moms posting pictures online of a life that looks vastly different from their own.
Thank goodness for the “wins” that somehow keep us going but for the most part, you find yourself feeling like a failure. Here’s why:
1. Your parents did a crappy job raising you.
It’s true. Parenting is 5000x harder than you thought it would be. And yes, sometimes you make mistakes. But seriously, you’re parents really did a crappy job raising you. They left you ill-equipped for the task at hand and it feels good blaming them.
Here’s the good news. Consider yourself to be an expert at what NOT to do as a parent! And you can count on friends and professionals, too, to help you fill in the gaps.
2. Your parents did an amazing job raising you.
Thanks, guys. Thanks for the love and sense of self-confidence and security you gave me. Thanks for letting me drink from the hose and ride my bike all over town unsupervised when I was 8 years old. Thanks for creating a seemingly impossible level of childhood perfection that I will never realize with my own kids.
No really, thank you. I know you struggled just as hard as I am now but somehow you made it all look effortless.
3. Society is putting too much pressure on you.
This isn’t a cop-out, it’s the truth. Just like our teenage girls who are being sold the lies of the fashion/Photoshop industry, you are being sold lies of perfection. You should be able to do it ALL…and not let your kids watch too much TV…and look good doing it…and then still have enough energy at the end of the day to seduce your husband.
Guess what? There’s a different truth. One that YOU get to decide. Work with your partner to identify and create your own set of values that work for your family. Write it down and tape it somewhere you can see as a reminder.
4. You’re not sleeping enough.
Everything is harder when you are tired. Sleep is just as important for you as it is for your kids so leave the dishes in the sink and the laundry in the dryer until tomorrow. Trust me, it won’t go anywhere.
You know that really funny book Go The F*** To Sleep? Get on your jammies, get into bed, read it to yourself and then go the f*** to sleep. Seriously.
5. You’re “hangry”.
This one should be at the top of my list. By now you should be able to identify when your blood sugar is low. For me, my focus wanes, my patience thins and I start to get hangry. (Hungry + Angry = Hangry).Introducing Lara Bars. The Peanut Butter Chocolate ones to be specific. I have them on Amazon’s Subscribe and Save and they cost around 80 cents a bar. Dried fruit, nuts, string cheese and energy bars are a few other great snacks to help keep you from getting hangry.
6. You’re thirsty.
At this point you’re either thinking, “Wow! She’s really stretching to come up with 10 reasons” or you're thinking, “Hmm, maybe I should try getting some of these self-care basics in place and see if I’m yelling less at my kids.”
Dehydration can cause headaches, dizziness and constipation. Plus, no amount of fancy moisturizer can smooth and soften your skin better than proper hydration. Start the day with a tall glass of room temperature water. It will help you recoup what you lost while sleeping and will also fire up your digestion. Then just remember to hydrate throughout the day.
7. You’re lonely.
I’ve always marveled at how lonely motherhood can be at times. It reminds me of when I lived in New York City. I would wonder how it was possible to be in a city surrounded by 8.4 million people and still find myself feeling lonely?
I guarantee you there are other moms in your neighborhood and community who are feeling the same way. For their sake, reach out! Try your local library, community center, and Meet Ups to get connected to people with kids the same age as yours.
8. You compare your REAL life to other people’s ONLINE life.
It’s easy to have it all together on Facebook when all you post are the perfect photos and all you share are the perfect moments. You know who I’m talking about! That's not real life and that sure as heck isn’t parenthood! Comparing yourself to other people inevitably leads to judgment and a slew of other really unattractive things.
You know that mom on Facebook that just came to mind. Go ahead and block her updates from showing up on your timeline. Now. I’ll be waiting and when you come back I guarantee you will feel a little lighter knowing you won’t be subjected to their exaggerated untruths!
9. You’re not saving money like you should be.
Wouldn’t it be cool if you had some extra money at the end of the month? Maybe you could get yourself a new pair of sneakers. Or a new bra…you know…one that was not intended for nursing considering the fact you stopped doing that over a year ago.
Start by saving small amounts of money here and there. Taking 60 minutes on a Sunday night to actively plan your meals for the week will mean less food wasted and less unplanned take out. Get movies and books from the library. If you shop online but hate trying to find coupons that actually work, check out CouponMate. This cool add-on automatically finds coupons and applies them for you. With minimal effort, there’s money out there waiting to be saved!
10. Your expectations are WAAAY off!
We set goals that are impossible to achieve and set ourselves up for failure, not success. According to a recent study done by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, this “goal conflict” creates an unhealthy relationship with time. What would bedtime and homework and parenthood in general look like if you were more realistic with your expectations? There’s plenty of totally legitimate reasons to freak out as a mom so why not put an end to the unnecessary stuff?
Guess who’s in charge of managing your expectations? YOU ARE! Re-examine your goals and expectations from a bird’s eye view and get clear on what really matters for you and your family.
I totally get it. You want to be an awesome mom and so do I. But do yourself and your kids a favor and lighten up a little. Surround yourself with positive people. Take care of yourself. Trust your intuition more. Even expert pediatrician and author T. Berry Brazelton believes that parents are the experts on their child's behavior. The truth is you ARE an awesome mom. Just the fact that you want to be better is proof. And remember there are countless other ways you could be screwing up on a much larger scale!