The Words We Want To Erase From Motherhood
We sat next to a grandma at Giggles & Fun yesterday who was there with her two grandsons. She was so attentive to them and looked like she was having an absolute ball. She turned to us and said “you know, being a grandparent is the best gig in town.” We agreed with her, having heard the same thing from our parents.
Then she said something that really resonated with us and put context as to why that role is so special and fun. She explained that she can remember being mother to young children like it was yesterday, and even though she didn’t have the glare of social media putting an extra layer of pressure on her as a mother, she said she remembers always worrying, stressing, wondering if she was doing any of it right. It cut to our core because it’s such a true statement. Being a grandparent, she said, takes all the pressure and worry off, but all the love and fun is still there. You get to love on these little humans, but the guilt, the anxiety, all the crud that usually comes from within us being our own worst critics…that’s all not there when you’re not the mother.
This conversation inspired us to think about how we can build a world where the sucky emotions that come along with motherhood are totally gone. OK, that’s being dramatic and the overachiever in us, but what if we could at least minimize that stuff that sucks? What if we could take all the words and emotions that bring the added pressure OUT of motherhood? So we wrote down some of the words we want to erase from the dictionary of motherhood. And how we can all move towards a happier, more joyful journey when raising these babies.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, it doesn’t ever fully exist. The notion that women can HAVE it all, DO it all, it’s a nice thought, but in our experience there’s a lot more give and take and sacrifice that comes with motherhood and balancing anything big or small outside of it. Is there ever a day where any of us feel like we filled everyone’s cup and also our own? Is there ever a day where we feel like we got it all done and everyone and everything got an equal part of us? For us, it’s extremely rare. There will always be a teeter totter effect that happens in motherhood. For stay at home moms, if you’re 100% present and active with your kids all day, maybe the housework and meal you wanted to cook is going to get pushed aside. For working mothers, we often hear that if one area gives a little, it’s always going to feel like another area is getting taken away from. If one week we’re more work heavy, it feels as if home life suffers, and if one week we’re more family/home life heavy, it seems like work suffers. It’s near impossible to give every area of your life the same attention and dedication day in and day out. There will likely always be a piece of the pie of life that’s smaller one day or week than it is the next. There might always be this feeling of trying to do it all, but one to two or three areas falling short. And we’re not sure those feelings will ever fully go away. Do some weeks feel more balanced than others? Totally. But if we wrote down everything we wanted to accomplish in a day on a giant white board, maybe five things would get crossed off. It’s impossible to do it all, be it all, be every THING for every ONE. We are just one person. And at the end of the day, sometimes there’s very little left of ourselves to give. And that’s OK. Sometimes, mama, good enough is good enough. Maybe we can replace the word balance with ‘enough.’ We did enough, we tried enough, we ARE enough.
Holy moly, this word. Mom guilt. It’s universal and no one is immune to feeling it. Working moms feel it, stay at home moms feel it, and work from home moms feel it. We may feel guilty about different things, but the emotion is there and it’s real. We’ve even had some moms tell us they often feel guilty for not feeling guilty about things! WHAT on earth, mamas!? It’s so nuts, this emotion. The most sinister part of this feeling? It’s almost always self inflicted and stems from the lies we tell ourselves and unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves, either from society, fear of judgement from others, or in our case, just straight from deep within our own souls. It’s daily work for us to get up and not feel guilt. If we were to write down all the things we’re proud of ourselves for in motherhood and then list all the things we feel guilt about in motherhood, some days the guilt list would be longer. And that’s crap! Guilt from small things, to big things…this word lingers in motherhood for us all. But what if we could just call it what it is and realize it’s a useless emotion. What if we realize that even if we feel it, it’s not real? Are your kids happy and loved and fed and safe and clothed and kind? Yes, then you’re doing great, mama. Elsa says it best with this one. LET IT GO.
Ain’t no one got time or space for this one. Why would anyone judge anyone on something that no one has any idea how to really do? Seriously! No one knows the perfect way to raise a child. Not one human being. So not one human being has the right to pass judgement on anyone. Each decision a mother makes for her child, we should all know that she believes in every fiber of her being that she’s making the best choice. She believes what she’s doing is best. So, who are we to fault her or judge her for that, even if it’s different than how we would do things? Also, why does anyone care enough? Why does it matter to another woman how another woman is feeding her baby? Why does it matter to another person why another person chooses not to vaccinate their child? Why do we care so much about the decisions of other people that have zero effect on us and our lives? You do you, I’ll do me, we’re all on the same journey…just slightly different paths. We’re all climbing the same mountain, we’re all just taking different routes and pitstops up that mountain. We’re all going to get to the top of that mountain, just not in the same way. So no judgement! We’re all doing the best we can.
Who wants to live life with one of these lingering around? Don’t we all aim to live a life with NO regrets? That’s like the dream, right? Easier said than done for sure, but what does having regrets do for us? Where does it get us? Can we change the circumstance that brought on this emotion? No, we can’t. Can we understand where the feeling comes from and call it what it is and try to move past it? Yes. What helps us move past the word regret is the realization that every decision we make leads us through life, often bringing us to amazing, joyous things. Kind of like the old saying, when one door closes, another opens. Do a simple exercise and you’ll see. Recall an instance that maybe wasn’t your proudest moment. Now step back and look how you moved through that and what it brought as the outcome. For example, say you regret having a fight with your best friend. Yes, it sucks, and you both said things you didn’t mean. But you moved past it, talked through it. Did something good come out of it like a deeper understanding for one another and the chance to express your feelings in a meaningful way? Yes. So, we’re big believers that bad things can lead to good. And even in the total yuck of a situation, there’s almost always a silver lining. In motherhood, there will undoubtably be moments we’re not proud of. But each of those moments are chances to learn and grow. Everyone’s got their sack of rocks to carry down the road. Our advice for this is to just look forward, not back.
Will we ever NOT feel this? Can we really erase this word from motherhood? Probably not. As mamas, we’re always going to worry. From the moment we see that positive pregnancy test to when we’re old and gray and our babies our grown, we will worry. But we can limit this! If worry creeps in, what we’ve found is being mindful and aware of why we’re feeling it helps to ease it a bit. There’s a giant difference in healthy, normal mom worry and full on anxiety. And if you’re teetering on anxiety (we tend to do this as well) it’s time to call it what it is and try to move through it. The constant noisy thoughts in our head of if we’re doing it right, are we going to screw them up, should we buy organic or non organic, can they have dairy, are they allergic to nuts, will someone be mean to them at school, should we vaccinate or not vaccinate, do we need to stay home or do we need to work…AGH it’s all just too much sometimes! Do we all want to look back on motherhood and realize all we were was a giant puddle of worry? No. Worry gets us nothing and solves nothing. So why do we spend so much time doing it? If we could learn to let go a bit and realize not every moment of motherhood is in our full control, maybe we can move past some of this worry. So we have to work together on this one, mamas. We have to build each other up and we have to talk about this emotion when it comes up. Sometimes talking about it, out loud, creates a new way of coping.
This one is different than guilt. It goes a little deeper and it’s a feeling that can be self inflicted or come from the judgement of someone else. We all know the term ‘Mom Shaming’ and it’s actually really gross that this is a term at all. But here are a few words of advice on this word, whether you’re feeling it from within, or feeling it from the judgement of another person. If you feel shame for anything involving motherhood, we’re going to bring Elsa in on this one, too. LET it go, mama. Elsa sing it loud, sister, LET IT GO. Feeling this emotion is useless and will hold you back from the joy that comes with raising kids. If you were shamed by someone for any decision you made in parenting, realize that it probably came from a deep place of insecurity within that person. It’s not your business what anyone thinks of your mothering skills. Every choice you make as a mother, even if you think it’s the best one ever, will be the opposite of what someone else is doing or thinks is right. Whether we’re cognizant of it or not, someone, somewhere will have something different to say about how you parent. But guess what? We can’t control that, but we CAN control how we react to it. At the end of the day, you are making the best choices for you and your child. Every mother’s journey is different, every child is different. If we had a one size fits all approach on how to raise kids, I’m sure someone would have written a book on it by now. But there isn’t one. So, do you and let go of the same.
It’s something we all want more of, something we’d like to slow down and often speed up. It’s this weird, intangible thing that can create anxiety in mothers. How many of us have heard, “you’ll never get these years back,” “the years are short so enjoy them,” “be present because it goes by so fast”? Even when we hear these things, we also look forward to the days when our kids can do new things, grow into their own person, always looking forward to that next phase with excitement. It’s hard to be fully present and live and be in the moment when there’s so much pressure to do so! Also, we’ve said this before, but time does not equal love. Society, and if we’re being honest, social media, can paint a picture that if you’re not with your children all day, every day, day in and day out, you’re missing out. Or you’re doing it wrong. A working mother who sends her kids to daycare is no less of a mother than one who stays at home with her kids every day. One mom doesn’t love her kids more and those same kids are probably equally as happy. There’s this pressure to never miss a moment. Be present and joyful in every stage. But this notion is unrealistic and for moms who do work outside of the home, it can sting to the core. The truth us, with more women working today than even a decade ago, moms will have to relinquish some of their time with their kids to a caregiver to do things outside of being a mom. And that’s OK! It’s OK for kids to build a relationship and bond outside of their immediate circle of family. And for the stay at home moms, you need a break too! Yes, you! You reserve the right to call a babysitter and go do something alone, for you. Yes, time is fleeting. And it’s scary how fast it goes. But we can’t get back yesterday and we don’t know what lies ahead of us tomorrow. So, let’s try to enjoy what we have in the moment, while accepting that when we’re not with our children every moment of the day, it’s OK, they’re OK.
This word doesn’t exist in life, so should never be used when talking anything motherhood. What is the perfect mom? It’s truly something so unattainable, but women all over the world still kill themselves striving for it. If we could take this word out of the dictionary, we would. Even if we did everything under the sun text book or close to what we’ve dreamed up as being perfect in our heads, the reality is…our kids could still turn out to be total assholes. It can even go the opposite way and kids who’ve had a hard upbringing can turn out to be the most amazing adults. There is no manual for motherhood. There is no right or wrong way. So instead of working towards an unattainable goal, maybe we can try focusing on just doing and being our best for our kids. Don’t we tell them this same thing? “Just Do Your Best.” We don’t ask for or expect perfect children, nor do we want them to think perfect people exist in this world. Take this word and stomp it to the ground and just do your best. We bet when our kids grow up, they’ll look back and know we did just that. Our best. They don’t want a perfect mom, they want you. Kids don’t even know perfection, they just know love. Show them love and attention and support, you’re doing good, mama.