They say as soon as a mom is born so is mom guilt. We feel torn and second guess our decisions, thoughts, and feelings no matter what we do. Should we breastfeed or give formula? Should we wait to put them in school, or will it be better for their social development? The list never ends, and it goes on as our kids grow. So, when we think about the “mistakes” we can make as moms, I imagine most of us think about things we shouldn’t have done as far as our kids are concerned. However, I want to invite you to make a different reflection today.
We tend to blame ourselves so much for what happens to our kids, their behavior, how they turn out. All the while we forget that the way we see ourselves is also a behavior we model for them. I have noticed that putting all my attention on my kids does, in fact, harm them because I forget myself. We are taught that becoming a mom means sacrificing it all, but I disagree. Being a mom to multiples has taught me if I sacrifice myself, I can’t show up as the human I expect and hope them to be.
My motherhood journey and my intense desire to understand what is going on inside me have shown me what the worst mistake I can make as a mom is: denying myself the right to continue to be me while I’m also a mom. And before you think that’s too vague, let me break it down into three parts:
Mistake #1: My kids’ needs come first.
Before they become adults, kids will depend on us for most things. The demands are never-ending and while we do it with love, it’s exhausting. When it gets to the overwhelming point, there has to be a moment for moms to recognize they need a break. Usually, this means we allow ourselves a nap, a manicure or maybe a shower, but what I’m trying to encourage here is consistent, daily time for yourself with yourself. A time for you to reflect on your thoughts and feelings. How was your day? Why did you lose it earlier? What are you worried about? Get to journaling!
Mistake #2: I need to make sure I’m being a good mom.
Everyone’s definition of a “good mom” is different — you should know that by now. So why do we insist on pleasing everybody? Why do we care so much about people’s opinions and approval? I’ll tell you why: because we haven’t learned to celebrate, validate and approve of ourselves. Embracing yourself and your parenting style — while still being open to changing and learning — is a lifelong process, but it has to start somewhere and it has to be a daily thing, a habit. Can you make a list of what you did right today as a mom as easily as what you did wrong? Think about it and stop being your worst critic by focusing on your strengths. Make a list of all you do for your family every day!
Mistake #3: I’m a mom now. My kids’ dreams are now my dreams.
Having kids shouldn’t be the “end of the road” for your dreams; it should be the beginning of them! Allow yourself to separate yourself as an individual and look at your own desires and talents, creating a vision for your future. Of course, it will include your kids, but it shouldn’t depend on them or have them in mind the entire time. Make a list of the things you’d still like to do or have right now. Why couldn’t you start pursuing some of them?
This all seems so logical when you think about it in rational terms, but when feelings are involved — especially our intense love and sense of responsibility for our kids — it’s not as simple. However, practice makes progress. Making sure you’re taking time daily or as often as possible for self-awareness, self-empowerment and goal setting will improve the way you see yourself — and that will have a direct effect on your children.