If you’ve been a mom for more than five minutes, I’m willing to bet you’ve berated yourself for being a “bad mom” at least once. I know that I have moments every day when I feel like I am surely ruining my children. Feeling like a bad mom is completely normal. It is also completely untrue. Here are five things to remember the next time you feel like a bad mom:
1. Bad Days Are Normal.
Listen, we all have bad days. And sometimes we have bad weeks. Some months are worse than others. It happens to all of us! But here’s the truth: bad days don’t make you a bad mom. The fact that you’re worried that you’re a bad mom makes you a good mom because it shows that you actually care.
There is one thing that I can guarantee you about motherhood: you’re going to screw up. A lot. And probably more often than you’d like. Part of growing as a mom is taking those mistakes and learning from them. Do you know the best way to correct mistakes? Acknowledge where you’ve messed up and try again. If you need help or advice or guidance, seek it out and keep trying again and again. You will never be able to achieve perfection in motherhood, but when you do your best to learn from your mistakes, apologize when necessary (yes, even to your kids!), and do better next time, it will not only help you, but it will teach your children some valuable lessons in love, humility, and forgiveness.
2. No Mom Is Perfect.
So why are you putting so much pressure on yourself to be a perfect mom? Believe me, I know how hard it is to be a mom in today’s social media world. It seems everywhere you turn, there’s another mom on Instagram who seems to have it all together: she’s got a perfectly toned body, a perfectly decorated home, perfectly styled angel children, she cooks and bakes like a pro, and she and her husband are madly in love and never fight. How can we mere mortal moms compete with that?
Here’s her secret: she’s not real. That perfect Insta-Mom is completely and totally lying to you, to everyone else who follows her, and sadly, probably to herself. There is no such thing as a perfect mom or a perfect house or a perfect marriage or perfect children. Each of us has our own special kind of ugly hanging out in the background of our lives, but you will rarely ever see those parts of others’ lives because it’s not Pinterest-worthy. Keep that in mind when you’re getting down on yourself for having a mountain of laundry in your living room, you’re wearing the same t-shirt and yoga pants for the third day in a row, and your kids are running around like wild heathens. We all have those days, mama.
3. Try to Find Perspective.
I know you’ve heard all the cliché sayings: “they grow so fast,” “the days are long but the years are short,” “you’ll miss this age soon,” etc., etc. If you’re anything like me, it takes a lot of mental effort not to punch that person in the throat when someone says these things to you. As irritating as those clichés are, the reality is that they are true. Maybe that’s why they’re so annoying?
It’s true. Our babies will not be babies much longer. Our toddlers will not want to cuddle on the couch with us (even though we need to get a billion things done) for much longer. The irritating things our kids do right now are nothing compared to the potential crap we will face when they’re teenagers (I’m hyperventilating just thinking about my kids as teenagers!).
So when you’re in the heat of yet another shouting match with your four-year-old or your two-year-old has decided to take his truck for a swim in the toilet (again), take a moment to step out of the situation and take a deep breath. Being angry and frustrated with your kids for what they’re doing today does not make you a bad mom, but it will help you in that heated moment to remember that this will one day be a memory that you’ll look back on and (probably) laugh about.
4. Your Children Love You.
I know it doesn’t feel like it when you’re in the middle of another argument with your kid or when they’re throwing a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store, but your kids really love you. You are their world, the center of their universe, the one person they want when they’re hurt or scared or upset. You are their comfort and strength, confidante and first friend, and source of self-esteem and bravery. No one can replace you in their lives.
Sure, there will be times when it seems like your kid likes daddy or grandma or the babysitter more than they like you, but deep down inside, your baby wants no one more than his or her mama. Usually, dad, grandma, and the babysitter are “novelties” that get to spend time with your child doing all the fun stuff while you are the constant, 24/7, rule-enforcing, chore-reminding, routine-abiding mom that is always there for them, whether they like it or not. Believe it or not, your constant presence is the thing that your child needs and values the most, even if they don’t show it. Want proof? Go on an extended date with your hubby sans kids one weekend and see just how clingy they are when you get back!
5. You Are Not Alone.
Next time you see a mom with her kids in tow, take a good look at her. I bet you will see some very familiar emotions etched on her face: exhaustion, maybe frustration, maybe irritation or outright anger. Maybe you catch her on a good day and you see happiness or laughter or joy. Maybe she’s been crying. Or maybe she’s flustered and forgetful. Whatever it is that you see, you can understand it because you’ve been there, too.
We moms are in this together. We are all in the trenches, all fighting the same battles. Yet, many of us feel so very alone sometimes. This couldn’t be further from the truth. None of us should have to feel like we are doing this alone. If you feel alone, there are so many resources that you can utilize to help you gather a tribe around you: moms groups are all over Facebook, meet-up websites, and churches, to name a few. Ask around, do a quick google search in your area, and reach out. And remember, the next time you see that exhausted mom when you’re out, give her a smile and a nod, or even a fist bump if you’re feeling brave. Just a little something to tell her: You’ve got this, mama!