When I first imagined becoming a mother I thought I was ready for everything. I was ready for the change in my body, ready for nine months of bloated feet and heartburn, I was ready to give birth without any medication and breastfeed for well over a year. I was prepared for sleepless nights, spit up, diaper changing, a house full of toys, cheerios in every crevice of my car, and I was even prepared to have only a couple of date nights a year.
What I was not prepared for was feeling like a failure. It didn’t happen right away. It was a slow burn. A notion that slowly crept in as my family expanded and my kids got older. The first time I noticed it was while feeling overwhelmed with a toddler and a baby both crying and needing my attention. All I could do was breathe deeply and hope the moment passed quickly.
By the time I had my third child, we moved into a new house and I had everything that I ever wanted. An awesome husband, three incredible boys, a nice house in a safe neighborhood and I even made friends with my neighbors. I decided to start working on my career again. I hadn’t done anything for myself in so long and it was time to begin creating a life for myself beyond Motherhood. It is this very journey where I am discovering my shortcomings.
Juggling my home life along with my personal goals while starting a business as an entrepreneur has highlighted exactly where I am lacking in my own life. It seems that as long as I have everything under control, I feel great. Once certain aspects of my life fall by the wayside, I feel miserable.
- When I yell at my kids, I feel like a failure
- When my husband can’t find something because it’s still in the wash, I feel like a failure
- When we have to get take-out because I’ve been busy working, I feel like a failure
- When I step on Lego that has been sitting on my living room floor for two days, I feel like a failure
- When my kids complain that I’m on the computer too much, I feel like a failure
- When my kids have more than one hour of screen time, I feel like a failure
I could go on, but you get the picture. Motherhood puts everything about you to the test. It makes you question your values and forces you to be very clear on political, spiritual and social issues. It pushes your limits and then once you think you have it all figured out, it reveals a whole new set of challenges.
If you are reading this as a Mom, I am certain you are nodding in agreement. There is not one mother that I speak to on a one-on-one level that feels like she is nailing this motherhood thing. Does that mean we are all horrible mothers? Or have we set ourselves up to fail with our expectations of what Motherhood entails?
We all have different lives, experiences, values, and passions, yet somehow, everyone has the same warped image of the perfection that we are supposed to attain as Mothers. We strive to have spotless homes, be gourmet chefs, enroll our kids in as many extracurricular activities as possible and chauffeur everyone without complaint. We aspire to engage our children in learning activities as much as possible and never yell at our kids for fear of the long-term effect on their self-esteem.
How is that working for you? Personally, my inner critic has a field day with every instance that I fall short of those expectations.
Be the kind of mother you want to be without beating yourself up for not exemplifying the mother you think you should be. No one is the mother they think they should be. That Mom who you think has it all figured out? She is crying herself to sleep at night. That friend of yours that makes the perfect Pinterest recipes? She feels guilty for yelling at her kids to get out of the kitchen. We are all struggling. We all feel like failures.
So change the narrative. Make it opposite day, every day. When you feel like you’ve failed, it’s a win. You are trying. You are present. You are showing your kids that it is OK to mess up, to not be perfect, to be messy some days and that there is nothing wrong with you if you break down and cry when you’re overwhelmed. Here are 5 things to keep in mind during your daily challenges.
- Show them how to fail and they will not be afraid of failure.
- Apologize for your mistakes and they will learn to be accountable for their actions.
- Get back up and try again and you will teach them how to succeed.
- Never give up and you will give them the foundation of resilience.
- Love yourself through all of life’s challenges and you will empower them to love themselves no matter how much they screw up.
There are no failures, only lessons. And if you’re going to feed that crap to your kids, you need to believe it for yourself first.
Check out the original articles posted on The Huffington Post: