Moms, I don't know what trials you are facing this week, this day, or this very hour. All I can do is speak from my own experiences in motherhood, and this week has been a doozy for me so far. By 4:30 PM yesterday, I found myself again in that familiar deep, dark rut that I wallow in sometimes when my days with my kids are spiraling out of MY control and I feel helpless and without solutions.
Hope feels so very far away during those times, and it takes all of my effort to attempt to keep order among my household and show love and patience to my kids and husband. I'm not always successful at this. There are days that I fail at keeping order and just quit trying and have a good cry. There are days I lose my patience and blow up at my kids, and there are days that I dole out consequences to my kids without keeping love at the forefront of our relationship. But oh, how I try.
The mommy guilt, the self-blame, the 'if-onlys', the 'what-ifs', the 'what nows'... these thoughts are immediately available and can take over my brain so greedily, as if they were lying in wait for me to fail. Maybe you hear these voices inside your head sometimes too.
I so often feel responsible for the problems my kids experience or the pain that they feel. In those moments where my heart aches for them and I'm out of answers, it's easy for me to justify how I've failed them as a mom: for not giving them the right vitamins at the right time of their lives; for putting on too much sunscreen - hampering their natural Vitamin D absorption, or not putting on enough sunscreen - increasing their chances for skin cancer; for being so overwhelmed and anxious as a new mom while managing their health conditions that I didn't give them the stable foundation or the independence that they needed; for giving in too easily in order to promote peace in our relationship when they refused to work on the "summer math" worksheets I had assigned; for my bailing on play dates from time to time because I didn't always feel like being around other people. Sometimes I get so down that I even wonder whether my kids would be better off if they had someone else as their mom: someone more gentle, more patient, more positive, more fun...someone stronger, someone who wouldn't fail.
Thankfully, my husband was home early from work yesterday afternoon and could give me a break from my mommy despair. I burrowed my face in a novel and allowed my mind to be immersed into someone else's life for awhile. It worked, and I recovered in time to tuck my sons into bed and appreciate them for the gifts that they are.
This isn't always the case though. Usually, I have to parent alone through the feelings and work my hardest to not lose my cool at my kids, which would only make the problems worse - and more importantly, my relationships with my kids suffer.
I decided that I need some truths to focus on when the s#!@ hits the fan at my house and my self-worth as a parent is as low as it goes. Survival truths of sorts. Perhaps these will be helpful to you when you can't chip away at your Mommy Guilt on your own.
You are enough. You may not always feel like it, spread so thin as you are somedays; but you have within you wisdom that allows you to make split-second decisions way beyond what your current emotions allow you to feel like you can make. You possess the endurance to work a full day at home or at the office even though your little one kept you up all hours of the night. Your 'Mama Bear' fierceness will provide you with a steady supply of adrenaline to protect your loved ones when you fear they are in danger. Your motherly instincts are amazing. You are enough.
No one could love your kids the way you do. Even on their worst days when you can't wait until you get your kids to bed so that you can finally be alone and put your feet up, you have a love for your children that no other person could have. You love them so much that you want to take away all of the pain in their lives and take it all on yourself.
Your kids were given to you for a reason. Now, this gets into my own faith journey. I've come to accept the fact that I was not meant to have "easy" kids. As my husband and I are hit left and right with trial after trial as parents, we realize that no one else could provide or care for our sons the way that we do. We may not understand during this lifetime why they've had to struggle as they have and why our family has gone through so much hurt as we have, but there's no one else I would want helping my kids though these stages of their lives than my husband and me. No one ever said parenting would be easy, and yet we wanted these babies of ours so much. They are gifts to be nurtured and loved and disciplined and trained, and all of the fun and hard stuff in between.
Your struggles will grow you as a mom and as a person. Think about the person you used to be before you became a mom. Now think about who you've become: less selfish and more giving than you ever thought possible, more patient and able to tolerate less-than-ideal conditions, more creative as you think of ways to make difficult situations work with minimal drama, more loving as you consider each day how to give your child your best, wiser as you solve all sorts of big and small problems - often without time to plan ahead, more healing as you bandage their wounds and provide comfort, more strategic as you plan how to get all of your errands run in between taking your kids to their activities, kinder as you show empathy and understanding to other parents going through tough seasons with their children.
Your parent friends can relate. Don't look at your friends' Facebook feeds for evidence that they are perfect parents with perfect children while you and your family struggle. Facebook doesn't tell the whole story. Instead, try authenticity as you share with your friends about the struggles you are going through in your parenting journey (though maybe not on Facebook!). Even if they've not experienced the same circumstances, chances are that they are shouldering their own burdens right now and just need a caring friend that they can trust enough to open up to as well. Be that friend for them. Share your burdens together and encourage one another.
It could be worse. We all know of families where the situation is worse than yours. When I feel desperately low, sometimes I have to force myself to focus on what we do have going for us as a family and how much I value those things.
You don't have to parent alone. Your Heavenly Father is here for you. God invites you to lean on Him hard during trying times. (If you'd like, see the following verses in the Bible for evidence of this: Philippians 4: 6-7; 1 Peter 5: 7; Psalm 55: 22; Proverbs 3: 5-6; Isaiah 41: 10). You don't have to go through this tough time in parenting on your own. God loves your kids even more than you could ever love them, which is saying something, and He loves the mom that you are becoming as you keep soldiering on and showing up, day after day, loving your kids the best way that you know how to. He can provide in the areas where you feel weak: ask Him for strength, wisdom, love, comfort, peace, healing, or whatever you need in this moment.
Stand up and lift up your head with pride, Strong Mama. Take these truths to heart, believe in them and walk bravely forward with these truths always accessible - forgetting the lies and the Mommy Guilt. It's time to get back to your most important of jobs.
It's true. You are an amazing mom, and your kids are blessed to have you.