Welcome to Week 3 of our Raising Boys series. If you’d like to read previous posts, you can catch up at Raising Boys!
Mom Guilt: That Silent Joy Stealer – Idealism and the Real World
When I was pregnant with my first child, I was confident. A bit nervous of the unknown that was about to hit me, but confident. That I would be a good, no, a GREAT mom, that my kids would adore me, my husband would admire me and that I’d be a rockstar human being. I’d have a shining kitchen and home, prepare healthy meals for my little family, and I’d be an energetic, gorgeously dressed, desirable wife. Yep, I’d be a rockstar mom. After all, I’d just read a load of books on raising kids, on marriage and on natural childbirth. What could I not do, right? Well, life put me in my place (of reality) pretty fast. I, to my surprise, did not have a mind of steel and begged for an epidural. I ‘only’ breastfed for ten weeks as the doctors gave me grief about my son’s weight gain ( I cried for two days when I gave up breastfeeding), and my business from home came to a sudden, dismal flop because it turns out, all I could do was FLOP. In a ball of exhausted tears, in my jammies, on the couch with my 24/7 new baby, with leaky boobs and a frighteningly messy house. I had been hit by a truck, and my shining ‘perfect’ image of myself in motherhood wasn’t as easy as I’d imagined it would be. And that, moms, was my intro to MOM GUILT.
The little guilt-devil sat on my shoulder from then on, saying things like:
You’re keeping your two year old home instead of sending him to playschool; why isn’t he socializing EVERY day like other kids?’
‘You’re eating takeouts for the second night in a row.. shouldn’t you be giving your hubby a healthy, home cooked meal?’
‘You do have other wardrobe items besides Yoga pants; will you ever wear anything else and look ‘hot’ again?’
‘Those highlights in your hair were a waste of money, you haven’t straightened your hair in two weeks, no one even notices them!’
‘You’re still sleeping in late since baby’s been born. How about getting up before the household and praying, or mopping?’
That little guilt-devil never relents. Sound familiar?
Facebook, Fronting & The Real World
We all know that people, especially women for some reason, love to ‘front’, right? Wrong! We seem to forget this, and believe everything Facebook shows and tell us, and then rate ourselves according to the ‘norm’ out there.
So many women compare themselves to other women; we compare figures, homes, careers, kids and their behaviors, the list goes on. Facebook is a big culprit – everyone paints perfect pictures of their lives, kids, circumstances and they post them for the world to ‘see’, but we all know we only post the good. No one sees your insecurity about your bum that never shrunk after baby was born, or your shame over never having a tidy home, or your inner battle with a rebellious toddler that hits and bites you. And no one seems to be secure enough (or have safe friends) to share these parts of their lives. Well moms, let me tell you that EVERY mom has insecurities. No really. You are not the only one that lives in Yoga pants. Or only gets to shower after lunch. You’re not the only one that gets ‘too’ angry with her kids on a tired day (or normal day, even) and you’re not the only one that feels she could be, look or dress better for her husband! If we could all get together in a room and be open and honest, we’d be blown away at how other moms are feeling the exact same things.
There’s something so freeing about hearing the words ‘Me too!’ and ‘You’re not alone!’ If you don’t have a friend you can be ‘real’ with, try and take the first step and be real with someone you know at a mom’s group, or at work or church. You’ll be surprised at their ability to relate 😉
Challenging Your Guilt Thoughts
So you’re bombarded with guilt about almost everything you do.. well first thing’s first – stop your thought processes! Flick that little guilt-devil off your shoulder judging everything you are, and do, and be realistic and FAIR to yourself.
If I find myself in a dark place in my thought life, I write down every guilty thought that I think, and categorize these into legitimate versus unnecessary guilt. Seeing them on paper (or on a PC screen) lets you see them for how silly they sometimes really are.
‘I’m neglecting the kids because they’re watching Disney movies in the other room while I’m doing dishes’
could be solved by giving them something educational to watch, and changing your view of the situation to:
‘The kids are in the other room learning their letters, and I set that up *high five to me*. I get to quickly do some dishes so that my kitchen is at a level I’m pleased with and can work with; great job!’
– Feel free here to reward yourself with chocolate, guilt free 😉
Some guilt thoughts are legitimate. I don’t know what yours are, but one of mine is:
I’ve been saying ‘just give mommy five more minutes to finish here’ for the last hour, while I’m chatting to a friend on Facebook, because I need some escapism from the mad chaos that is my house this morning.
To this thought, I say:
“Get your face out of Facebook, and phone a friend!”
And then I get off Facebook, where everyone is fronting anyway, get a friendship that is IN PERSON, it’s more meaningful *I pick up my phone here and call a friend and book coffee for later*, and then I call my kids and sit on my bum with them and CONNECT. *high five to me*.
Be Your Own Cheerleader
Would you be as judgmental, harsh and unkind to anyone else in your life, as you are to yourself? No! Go easy on yourself. Step back from your emotions, and take a real look at yourself.
You know your situation and your mom guilt and what you need to hear; to myself I’d say:
Wow Heidi! You carried and bore three gorgeous children. It was long, hard and you DID IT. Your home is full of love and warmth. And toys, yes, and toys. Everywhere, yes, everywhere. But cut yourself some slack – you live with kids, not in a museum. There will be toys and mess. But look past it and see the security and the love, the cuddles you give, the great meals you cook when you can, and the hugs you give your hubby on the couch before you pass out. You’re a warm person! Your skin’s still looking great for your age, forget about how seldom you get to do your makeup or hair, or go for a manicure. Okay, you never go for manicures, but you sure deserve one. You are still beautiful. You still have green eyes, and blonde hair and a great smile and you know these are features your husband loves. Stop noticing the wrinkles and no-make up and freckly skin, the frizzy hair and baggy clothes. You have a fantastic, strong body that grew precious babies and bore them, and that cuddles and loves and raises them. That art on the walls was of your choosing, notice how it lights up the room, forget about the fingerprints on it. You’re a creative person, awesome!….. ‘
I could go on.. You get the picture 🙂
Step back busy mom, and give yourself credit for who you are; for what you are and do. Write your own note to yourself, make a list of the things you do that ROCK, and give yourself a great compliment about something getting you feeling guilty. You’re doing a great job.
Seeing Yourself As You Really Are
If you haven’t seen the Dove ad on YouTube, check it out below. I love how true this is. How I undermine myself and forget my real beauty. Don’t forget yours!
Work through your guilt issues mom! Improve where you need to and can, and look at yourself in a new light. Give yourself a break.. and some credit. You’re a great woman, doing an incredibly hard but rewarding job, and you’re a ROCKSTAR!
<< Last Week: The Book Every Father Raising Boys needs to Read
>> Next Week: What You need to know about Boys’ Testosterone to age 4
Recommended reading as mentioned in the Raising Boys Series.
- Bringing Up Boys
- Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different – and How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men
- Bringing Up Boys ~ Parent Workbook
- The 5 Love Languages of Children
- Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul
- Your Brain on Childhood: The Unexpected Side Effects of Classrooms, Ballparks, Family Rooms, and the Minivan
- Boundaries with Kids: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Children
- Building Confidence in Your Child
- Parenting Isn’t for Cowards: The ‘You Can Do It’ Guide for Hassled Parents from America’s Best-Loved Family Advocate
- The Power of a Praying® Parent (Power of Praying)