When our first daughter was born, I convinced myself that I was insane because I would creep into her room several times per night to make sure she was still breathing. Now that she is almost 7 years old and our youngest is 5, I am almost sure that I am not crazy. I still creep into their rooms some nights to make sure they are breathing, not trapped under a blanket or secretly hoisted away but an intruder. I do not lose as much sleep over uncontrollable circumstances as I used to, partly because I have grown comfortable with their independence and partly because I have other things I am losing sleep over.
Now, more often than not, I lose sleep worrying about all the mistakes I’ve made. I get sick to my stomach thinking about the time I spend writing instead of playing with my kids or feeling guilty about snapping at my girls. I notice my imperfections when I pacify my kids with a movie instead of something more productive so I can finish one more article. I am not the stay-at-home mom I thought I would be. Circumstances do not allow me to make weekly visits to the museum or aquarium, take daily walks around the neighborhood or spend hours hand-constructing Halloween costumes from duct tape and kite string. There are days I feel like the worst mother in the world because I am not living up to my vision of what I thought I would be.
I know I am not the only one. We live in culture obsessed with perfection and approval of other mothers. Gorgeous crafts posted on Pinterest remind us that we are never quite as good as that mom. Facebook photos and updates plant a seed of guilt and jealousy of the clean homes, expensive vacations and private schools our friends have. The thing is, social media and our culture of doing it all have made moms even more insecure than ever before. Even the mom’s posting those amazing pictures of their child’s homemade birthday cake are likely feeling pressure about something they are not doing perfectly.
Instead of raising ourselves up and offering encouragement, we are constantly tearing ourselves down with comparisons based only upon the best of what other parents have to offer. It is not often that a mom posts about how she snapped at her kids at least five times a day on their “perfect” vacation. It is unfair to compare our worst moments to their best ones.
As a mom who is guilty of this ten times over, I would like to issue a challenge: Whenever you start berating yourself for your imperfections, think of something you do really well. Write it down. Make a note of compliments you get from other parents and compliments from your own kids. Commit to loving yourself as much as you love your children. You would never tell your children they are lazy, selfish, not good enough, or horrible. Do not treat yourself that way. Our kids learn a lot from how we act and how we treat ourselves. Embrace your imperfections, recognize them as growing opportunities, and choose to give more credit to the good things you are already doing.
What is your biggest struggle as a mom?
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