Nothing brings out the compare and despair the way motherhood does. Sure, the teenage years were brutal, but they’ve got nothing on the judgment fest that is motherhood.
From the moment you confirm that ‘yes’, in approximately nine months you will birth a new life into the world, the opportunity for judgment begins. Are you eating right? Exercising enough, but not too much? How’s your weight? Birthing plan, oh wait you don’t have one?!
It never ends. In fact, it just escalates once your beautiful bundle of joy says, “hello world!”
Everyone has their own ideas about the right way to do motherhood and there’s nothing you can do to stop that.
Want to know what you CAN stop?
Well, you can stop caring so much. That’s right, you can quit beating yourself up for failing to measure up to ‘their’ standards. Even better, quit beating yourself up when you don’t measure up to your own.
We’ve all been that smug twenty-something that virtuously announces to her besties that she’ll never bring a baby to a chic restaurant. The blissfully clueless woman who rolls her eyes at the parent who just buys the candy to shut her kid up. Ah yes, we think, we’re so much more evolved than that.
And then reality hits and you find yourself doing things you never thought you’d do like drying pee-soaked shorts under the hand dryer in a public restroom because you forgot to pack an extra pair.
We mamas are our own worst enemies. We worry that we aren’t measuring up and, in the process, we chip away at our own joy, one self-loathing thought at a time.
It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, let’s all make a pact to do it differently. Here are four ways to get started:
1. FOCUS ON WHAT REALLY MATTERS. In the quiet of your own heart, what do you want for your child? Probably something along the lines of safety, health and happiness. The next time you feel like you aren’t measuring up, ask yourself, “Is my child generally safe, healthy and happy?” If so, let the rest go.
2. REMEMBER, THEY WON’T REMEMBER ANY OF IT. My son is now eleven and do you think he remembers the hand-burned scrolls I did as invitations to his pirate birthday party? Nope. Does he remember that time I left him in his crib five minutes longer than he wanted because I was just-so-tired? Uh-uh. Kids won’t remember your victories or your defeats. What they remember is that they are safe and loved. Let the rest go.
3. CELEBRATE YOUR LOSER-MAMA MOMENTS. Not that you actually are a loser, but those moments when you feel like one, tell your besties. Heck, tell the lady at the grocery store. The more you quit pretending to be perfect, the more permission you give other mamas to quit pretending too. The truth is, we all mess up, so let’s own it and liberate each other from the pressure of trying to be Mother of the Year. Let that pressure go.
4. BE THE MODEL YOUR CHILDREN NEED YOU TO BE. Do you want your children to beat themselves up for days when they make a mistake? No, you want them to learn and move on, so do that. Do you want your daughter to treat herself with kindness? Yes? Then show her that by being kind to yourself. We want compassion and love for our children, but somewhere along the way we forgot that we deserve it too. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is modelling self-love and compassion for them. Let the self-judgment go.
At the end of the day, give yourself a break. Don’t worry about what the experts say or what the other mamas are doing. Trust your instincts, get up when you stumble, be kind to yourself and remember, you are perfect just as you are.
Tanya Wheeless is a coach, speaker, avid traveller and the founder of Happy Grace, a company committed to helping busy women live with balance, joy and soul. She’s also a wife and mother to Jake, age 11, and the fur brothers, Flash and Bolt, both ten months. Say hello and check out her freebies at happygrace.com.