Yesterday was Mother’s Day and while I enjoyed the day tremendously with my son and husband I had to also reflect on my own journey as a mom so far. It’s nice to have a special holiday for it but once I realized what being a mom meant really deeply to me I started to see the blessing in it each and every day. Don’t get me wrong there are still days I get frustrated, want to scream and lose my shit – being a mom is not always easy. It’s so easy to feel like you are failing at it. Completely failing, never be good at it in an ugly crying, haven’t had a shower for days kind of way. I certainly will never claim to be graceful at it but I have discovered it doesn’t have to all be covered in mom guilt either.
I was 40 when our then 2 year old adopted son came home to us. Most of my friends were seeing their kids graduate from high school that year and here we were welcoming our first and only child into our home. My husband and I had to watch YouTube to find out how to change a diaper as neither of us had done it before. We also had no idea what it meant to have a 2 year old running around our home. All of a sudden our home was turned upset down with toys, books and happy gleeful laughs of a toddler exploring every nook, cranny, shelf and cabinet. I honestly had no idea what we were supposed to do or how to do it.
There are a ton of parenting books available and I even bought a few before I realized I had just wasted my money. Any time I used to have for reading was now replaced with story time before naps and bed time. The parenting classes you take in the adoption process, especially foster care adoption are not really aimed at helping you answer the what you do questions for normal every day things like changing diapers, selecting a day care or what foods toddlers like.
Since we didn’t know what age or gender of child we may get matched with this added to the complexity of knowing how to get prepared. Alas after almost 7 years we’re still figuring it out and there is always something new to learn. I have long since given up on parenting books.
I have to believe not many of us knew what it would be like to be a mom regardless of how our children came into our lives. Perhaps you got to read a couple of the books beforehand or had a relative tell you some things but in talking to my friends it seems most of us are figuring it out as we go along. After centuries of moms before us there still isn’t the secret book of what really goes down and what it really takes to be a mom. I imagine if there was a book it would be small and the pages worn thin at the edges from the countless moms who stumbled upon it hoping for wisdom. However upon opening the book they find a single entry and short sentence that reads: “Just be you.”
When I started out in my new mom role I drove myself crazy with what I thought I was supposed to be doing. Working full time, keeping the house cleaned, getting a meal on the table for dinner, picking up at childcare well before the cutoff time, consistent bed times, sufficient story reading time, regular bath times and so on. It was like my to-do list imploded into a million pieces I would never be able to accomplish or put together in any order again. Forget about a clean house and finished laundry because as soon as you cleaned something there was a new mess waiting. The washing machine hasn’t stopped running since the day he came home.
Sometimes evening dinner is cereal and toast. Alas we see the core of mom guilt.
The bar to perfect mom-dom is set pretty high for most of us. I don’t claim to be graceful or good at it most days. I’m guessing you figured that out from the last paragraph where you now know my family gets cereal for dinner. When I see a couple of my mom-friends with their children I try to pick up what they do well but they too have admitted most of the time they feel like they are failing at this whole mom thing too. I always thought being a mom would be the greatest thing I would ever do in my life, maybe it is and I don’t realize it, but most days it doesn’t feel like it either. I am so honored to get to be this boy’s mom but most of the time I feel like I’m doing him an injustice when it comes to filling that role.
Why are so many of us thinking we’re not good at it?
Why does mom guilt overcome so much of our day?
I will never claim to have it figured out but what I know so far is most of the time we are measuring our own progress much too harshly. Just last night my son left a note on the kitchen table for me that read “You’re the best mom!” and he covered it with hearts. He also made ramen noodles for dinner for everyone. I have another note from him that I save under the mat on my desk so I have to read it every day. It says in misspelled words and kid style handwriting:
My son’s note to me Christmas 2019“Thank you for picking me. I appreciate you helping me be a good kid. xoxoxo”
If he thinks that then why don’t I do feel like mom of the year? After all he’s the one who has to have me as his mom so it should really only be his opinion of my performance that matters right? Obviously he thinks he has found the jackpot of moms. Oh out of the mouths of babes indeed.
Thinking this over I’ve decided to see this whole mom role as part of my life journey. I talk a lot about our life journey in this blog and how to let it feel more natural to us, embracing the challenges and changes we will encounter on the way. When we stop fighting nature it actually supports us and helps us get to where we want to be. If I stop fighting the mom pressure and should be doing elements I have self-imposed or feel society has applied to me the mom guilt goes away. I realize I can get a lot more comfortable doing what is right for me and my son without the yoke of feeling inadequate and failing. Amazingly we are no longer late to things,
rushing all the time or too stressed to enjoy one another too.
If anything has shown me this living natural thing, moving in alignment with nature and letting it shape and grow me is worthwhile it’s been in the mom department. Letting go of the mom guilt, releasing the should and must society trends and accepting I’m growing in this role more every day is a freeing experience that makes it a whole lot more fun, endearing and incredibly enriching. I wouldn’t change being a mom for anything. The best part is no experience is necessary and you can completely let nature guide you.
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