Do you remember the mom you were going to be when your little bundle of joy finally arrived?
Do you remember daydreaming of how great it was going to be to have a mini following you around?
You knew everything you should and shouldn’t do, and you knew that your child was going to be so much better than the rest because you’d read all the books and blogs.
You were so sure of yourself because that’s how you’d planned it. You couldn’t wait to buy the cutest clothes, theme your child’s room, and go do fun family things—bringing home photos that would tell flawless stories. You were going to handle everything with ease and a smile. And this was going to be your new life—all the time.
Then, life got real and in came mom-guilt. Ugh!
Motherhood is much messier than we dreamed of, isn’t it? Even our most persistent what-ifs don’t compare to the nagging stress, worry, and guilt that we feel some days.
In my imagination, it was a distant and fleeting moment—failure. In my reality, it’s what has kept me up most nights with a broken heart and spirit. It’s consumed my thoughts for days at a time, regularly.
I should have done this, or I should have done that.
This is not how I planned our relationship would be.
Why won’t they just listen?!
Door slams, tantrums. What am I doing wrong?
You don’t love me, you never play with me, we never do anything fun! And “never” is always overexaggerated.
Pumpkin patch trips are cancelled week after week because bad behavior can’t be rewarded. You say, “This is no fun for any of us, trust me.” But, they don’t understand.
My personal favorite gut punch is, “You’re the worst! I want (someone else).”
We have to make them go places they don’t want to go to because there are laws we must abide and we’re left wondering if we’re failing them.
They say we ruined their lives at the tender ages of 4 and 10 and now they want nothing to do with us. If you have daughters, I know you feel me.
We lose our patience and, sometimes, our minds. We say things we shouldn’t say. We push them aside and can’t focus entirely on them every waking moment of every single day. And we make them face the consequences of their actions even though it pains us to watch them learn their lessons the hard way.
We hide in the bathroom, kitchen, car, or bedroom crying out our disappointment and stuffing our faces with candy bars. And then we carry that sense of failure, our lack of perfection, and our guilt around with us in a tiny locket that weighs 100lbs around our necks for an unseeable amount of time.
People pass judgements—especially the professional mothers with no kids.
They give unsolicited advice, talk about us behind our backs, and raise the bar so high that we are making ourselves sick spinning in our heads searching for the perfection we imagined we would have.
But, perfection isn’t real. Real is hard, real hurts, real is unplanned.
There will be times when we feel like we’re not good enough. There will be times when we have no f*cking clue what we’re doing. And guess what? It’s okay.
We have managed to survive it thus far, right? Even after the worst of our times, we have risen and stood among the rubble.
We are going to mess up. Our kids are going to mess up. We will all be upset, sometimes! They’re going to act out, favor others, and say things that crush us. We will inevitably be, feel, or seem wrong at some point—whether to ourselves or to someone else.
What matters most is that we care enough to do the best we can and try again when we suck.
You, literally, can’t do any better than your best and every day that definition changes. Some days, the best we can give is 10 minutes of undivided attention. And some days, our best is envied by others.
We can’t do everything perfectly right and be everything to everyone all the time. So, let’s cut ourselves some slack, okay? This isn’t daytime television; Motherhood is the hardest job a woman could ever have, and many of us juggle motherhood with the hardest of careers people can have—and then some! I haven’t even mentioned we often have other, more personal struggles as individuals.
We care enough to be upset over failed expectations. We give everything we can give and we keep going despite the aching in our hearts, worry in our minds, and the judgements from ourselves and others. That matters!
If you’re feeling the mom-guilt right now or ever, forgive yourself, mama. You’re doing the best you can.
And when our babies have babies of their own, they will really understand the care that sat underneath the moments that leave us feeling like failures.
Remember the forced photos you just had to take for the mantle—the one where you snipped out a raised, “I just want one good picture!”
Or the themed bedroom that your child wanted and you didn’t.
Remember the nights you were too tired to read a bedtime story—and the nights you weren’t.
Take a moment to remember all of the smiles, laughter, hugs, and I love yous, too.
This is the dream we looked forward to—mixed into life’s reality.