I’m having one of those days. I’m sure you can relate once I explain. But I’m having one of those days where I question every little thing I do as a Mother. Until you are a Mother, I don’t think you can understand the physical and emotional aspects of the position. There are no pre-qualifications but many things you learn to master along the way. Even when we feel we have learned all that could be learned, parenting often causes us to judge ourselves and question our abilities.
As a momma of two little ones, there are days, and we all know them, where nothing will go right. Usually it starts a little something like this: kids are dragging feet, breakfast burns, late for school, late for work, your skirt is on backwards, underwear on inside out, birds poop on your car window, and you forgot about an extracurricular for your child that just so happens to being going on right now. Those are the days I feel being a parent is the hardest. You look up at the sky and scream “Why me, why today?” But somehow regardless the ninety-nine problems that occurred throughout the day, you persevered. Your kids are tucked in bed and for the first time in your entire day, it is quiet. For most of us, ten minutes of quiet results in us falling asleep working, watching TV, reading, pretty much doing anything.
Back to my previous statement, I am having one of those days, as explained above. My kids are at the ages of four and five. Cliff note: I somehow thought if I had them closer together they would get along, be best friends, and never be bored. Well, yeah that didn’t go quite how I planned. They fight over everything. They boss each other around. They slap, they kick, they yell, and my favorite they scream. I am a woman of great patience but on the days where I feel like a referee in the world’s longest game, I just feel defeated. In these moments, we all handle things differently, and I certainly try to gracefully accept the moment.
Then night kicks around and it’s quiet and I have time to think. Think about the day, think about words said, actions taken, the whole nine yards. I spend a good amount of the time feeling guilty. Was I too easy on them, too hard on them? Should I have let me eat brownies for dinner, versus sitting for two hours with them screaming they won’t eat chicken? Whether I take the high road or the low road, or heck even the sidewalk. I wonder am I doing a good job as a parent? I know I’m not alone on this, as that in my opinion is one of the core parts of parenting, questioning one’s self.
I used to ask my friends how they handled different situations as a parent. As if they magically had access to a book that explained all the possible outcomes of parenting strategies. Well after a few attempts to go along with my friend’s thoughts and ideas I found that none of them seemed to work for me or my family. Case in point: time outs. My kids are very fast, I’m certain they are tiny ninjas. Time outs have always been a challenge and being so I reached out for advice from friends and family. I heard everything from put a chair in the corner, to turn them around to face the wall, to they should stay in the corner for one minute for each year of their age. All this advice sure was good now, but my bigger issue was how do I even get them to the corner and then have them stay? So, when all else failed, when I could have tried till tears blew out of my eyes, instead I caved and gave up on the idea of time outs. It wasn’t until I found the recipe for what worked when my kiddos were not acting nicely, that I saw that each parent and each family have different needs.
So, skip the timeouts and fast forward to the one and only thing that seems to work in my house. Take away the games. Take away the tablet, the Wii, the Game Boys, the internet time they have. Oddly enough when this strategy was employed my kids started to listen better. But then the next phase of parenting kicked in, guilt. I felt horrible to watch them cry, tantrum, scream, and beg for their electronics back. Was I being a good mom, was I being too hard of a discipliner? Personally, I was torn. I don’t in any way want my kids to be awful adults, but I also don’t want them to think I am the taker of all things fun. I have been often deemed “Meany Mommy.” And sometimes I am but the more appropriate name for me would be “Way too Soft Mommy,” or “Guilt makes me cave Mommy.”
I would have never thought as a parent, my kids could make me feel happy/sad, proud/guilty, and every other emotional multiple time during the day. And when the crazy days are here, I spent a good chunk of time beating myself up. Truth of the matter is most of the guilt, fear, anxiety, and frustration that can come with being a mother, is self-inflicted. I also believe social media largely plays into unrealistic ideals of what a mother is and does. Both my inner critic and comparing myself to the Pinterest mom of the year, I find I am not perfect and nor are they.
And in the moment, I realized I wasn’t perfect and that no parent can or will be perfect, the match sparked. That was the moment that I realized through all my faults (mostly my insecurities and worries) I was still doing a fine job of raising two very respectful and sincere little souls. Yes, do my kids occasionally throw down like a WWE wrestle match, but they also have strong feelings towards loving others. They are both fierce and feisty, sweet/salty, and caring/compassionate. These characteristics are not something you are born with but something you are rather molded and taught of. So, in the times I am so overwhelmed and insecure, these positive things remind me of how far I have come as a Mother.
The overall long drawn out point of this blog is to remind Mothers; we are not perfect. We are not meant to be perfect and striving to do so only hurts ourselves. Also, please as Mothers, lets love one another. We all parent different and love different but we all have the same goal which is to care deeply for our children and provide them the best life possible. When you see, a Mother struggling (you know what I mean), offer them a positive word. Tell them it is okay and it will get better.
One moment in parenting that stuck out to my so strongly was on a day when I was at Wal-Mart with both of my kiddos. They were probably about two and three at the time. Both were overtired and myself overwhelmed. Being a military spouse when the significant other is away, all things lie on you and this day was no different. I would normally do anything to avoid a Wal-Mart trip during nap time but I needed milk and I knew if I waited, I would be just doing this later at night and that could be harder for myself and the kids. Fast forward to the end of our trip. We were in the checkout lane, both kids in the back of the cart, of course they are fighting. They are also begging for a toy and when I said no, it happened. They both began screaming and crying at the absolute top of their lungs. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad, but I was sandwiched between two older couples. The lady in front of me, gave me the laser eye stare. As if by looking at me with disdain, I could somehow magically cure my kids at that given moment. But thank goodness for the older couple behind me. I sat in the line, embarrassed, at the point of tears and an arm touched my shoulder. The lady behind me looked at me and said “It will be okay momma.” As if to break me away from the stress and worry, these words were like a calm in a storm. It’s okay momma. We have all been there, we have all felt this way.
So, this is my personal stand on parenting and I have often reached out to the stressed Mother in a store and shared the same simple saying of “It’s okay momma.” What was such a comfort to me, has become a comfort to those that I pass it on to. So, be sure to keep an eye out for the struggling momma, the stress worn on the face momma, and the tired mommas of the world. When you have the opportunity, be the person to offer them a small gesture of both understanding and comfort. Mothers have no easy job. We all know that because we have done that or see a Mother in action. So, let’s be the force of comfort and understanding. Let’s spread the love, the compassion, and the strength with other mommas out in the world because the truth of the matter is “It’s okay momma.”