I am hard on myself as a mama. Oh yes, I am. I compare myself to other women. To other mothers. Sometimes, I can't stand my post-two-kids belly. Sometimes, I am jealous of my friends who don't have kiddos who get to go out on the weekends and even get to use the restroom by themselves. I can be jealous of mamas who shell out $100s of dollars for name brand kids clothes where we try to save money in that department. I can be totally envious of mamas who get their nails done weekly and actually put on makeup everyday. Somedays, I am totally jealous of women who go to a job outside the home, who get out of the house, who use their brains in different ways. Somedays, I miss who I was before I had kids. Gulp. I said that out loud.
Social media is awesome but it also gives us a dangerous opportunity to compare ourselves to others. At any moment we can log on and look at pictures of other mamas and their kiddos. We can see pictures of our single friends spending the weekend in Vegas or parents of four kids taking all the kids to Disney. I love social media but it is dangerous. It's easy to get jealous and to wonder if you are "doing it right." It's easy to size up your life and your parenting style and even your kids to others you see on the inter webs.
Lately, though, I have had a realization. At the end of the day, we are all pretty much the same. We are all striving to grow, to learn, to better our lives and the lives of our kiddos. There is no need to feel defeated. No one is keeping score. Other mamas think I totally have my shit together. I think other mamas have their shit together. Really, none of us do, right? I am just like you. I feel jealous. I wonder if I am a good mom. I crave quiet. I pray that my kids turn out to be decent adults. I wish. I wish. I wish. We are all alike.
I know I am blessed. I know that I have accomplished a whole heck of a lot. If I don't do anything else right on this earth, I am proud that I brought two amazing little people to this world. They are going to do big things. For that, I am proud.
It's easy to feel defeated as a mama. It's damn hard. Kids are always wanting something. You clean up one mess and turn around and see 2000 crayons spread out across the living room. You never get a true break. Even when you are away you are thinking about them. Thinking about what you are going to make them for dinner. How you are ever going to pay for their college. How their earache worries you. It never ends. That is the beauty and the curse of motherhood. The big things in life are hard. They are challenging. They rock you to your core. They challenge you. They make you cry and laugh all in the same second.
You are not alone, mama. I find comfort in that thought. All over the world, there are mamas just like us. Stop feeling defeated. It really is OK. You are totally normal.
Here are my top 7 ways to stop feeling defeated:
1. Stop trying to impress others. Social media makes this one so challenging. I see a mama taking her 6 kids out in the snow and I think, "Shit, I need to get my two out there!" Deep down, I really don't feel like dealing with the slushy mess, the complaints, the wet socks. It is easy to get caught up in the "post a pic of my kid doing cute, awesome stuff" trap. I am totally guilty. I am obsessed with them. I hope I don't make other mamas feel bad about themselves. Not my intention at all. Sometimes I feel it when I see pictures from other mamas. Let's all agree that we are not trying to show off. Deal? Deal. Us mamas gotta stick together.
2. Ask yourself, "What is really important?" Think about what is important to you because, mama, you can't do it all. Don't have any desire to make your own almond milk from scratch? No problem. Is making dinner most nights a priority? Is taking your kiddos to soccer, ballet and debate important to you? Is going to church every Sunday a top priority? Awesome. Sit down with your spouse and chat about your priorities as parents and as a family. This is HUGE.
3. Ask yourself, "Who do you look up to as a motherly figure?" I have so many. I think about my grandmother often. She had 9 children. Yes, 9. She became a single mom when my mom and her siblings were young. Damn. She is my mama idol. When times are stressful, I think about her often and I pray. Oh yes, I pray a lot these days.
4. Focus on your strengths. We all have unique gifts as a woman and as a mama. Use them. Think back to what you did before having kids. See if you can bring some of that magic back into your life. I used to paint a lot as a kid. Now, I am loving doing this with my kids. I love to cook. I bring my kids into the kitchen with me all the time. I hope to pass this love on to them. There is no one way of doing this motherhood thing. Own what you do.
5. Focus on where you are now and how you can grow. You can't do everything. You can't sew your kids homemade clothes, make your own almond milk, sew sequins on dance leotards every night, write a blog AND catch the latest episode of The Bachelor. It's just not all going to happen and you will feel defeated if you try. A single point of focus is key. Baby steps. Work towards one goal at a time.
6. Simplify. Life is so damn complicated. Consider only letting your kids do one activity instead of two a week. The magic happens when we can breathe and enjoy the now. Stay home together a few nights a week. Eat together. Great communication happens at the dinner table.
7. Get support. It's OK to ask for help. It's comforting to meet with other mamas, swap stories, get advice, cry, whatever needs to happen!
Feeling stressed in your role as a mama? Need support? Check out Mama Sanity Bootcamp. Free program for mamas. Click here to sign up!