Today I read a post, actually a re-post, that made me want to cry. This isn't an isolated thing, I see similar sentiments shared frequently by moms. There is always some number of people chiming in about how they totally relate.
I will share with you the backbone of this particular post.
It begins with a mom holding a sign reading,
"Support her, she already thinks she is going crazy."
Then begins the list of over a dozen things moms might struggle with. Here we go:
overwhelmed by the simplest things
worrying if her anxiety or depression will ruin her kids
trying to be a good wife
making sure everyone is cared for
doesn't trust a single soul with her kids
scared to talk about how she really, actually feels
doesn't know who she is outside of being a mother
doesn't want to be judged
doesn't know how to let go
has rage that comes out of nowhere
feels like she is failing on all fronts
wears the same clothes
hasn't worn makeup in months
needs to take care of herself, but feels guilty for doing so
feels like she is drowning
needs support, but will not ask for or accept it
puts too much pressure on herself
Wow. That is one heavy load to carry.
This is a lot to unpack. If I were to choose one to discuss today it would be like
eeny, meeny, miny, moe . There was a time when I could relate to just about any one of them.
While I may just turn some of these into individual topics in upcoming posts, right now I think it is the overarching theme that I want to consider.
I am curious.
Who's standard is it that you're trying to live up to?
What is the voice that you hear telling you you are failing or drowning, or not doing enough?
Who told you that it is wrong to take care of yourself?
Why are you refusing help or support?
Okay, that was more than one question, but I think that spending some time journaling and thinking about these questions is really beneficial.
I will tell you a quick story about a day at the beach my kids and I recently had. It was a really impromptu trip. We threw things in the car and took the long-ish drive, got a terrible hotel room, and had a beautiful day on the beach. (As a Jersey girl, that is called "going down the shore.")
It was a quiet day and super relaxing until this mom came along with her THREE young boys. Three boys and she was the only adult. Her youngest was just a toddler. By the ocean with three boys, one of whom was a toddler with no other adults to help her. I inwardly applauded her as she lugged a beach umbrella, beach toys, blankets, snacks, and more to the beach and kept her kids pretty well in check. The boys were all wearing matching swimsuits and they were adorable. She got her little slice of the beach all lovely and then she whipped out her camera to take some photos. Photos of her little setup and then photos of her boys all matching and smiling, and then some selfies with them. Her body was slim and her hair and makeup were perfect. I coveted the sun hat she was wearing and marveled at her a little as I let my hair get as untamed and beach wavy as possible. My son forgot his bathing suit and had to wear gym shorts. We slept all night with one eye open because our "inn" was that bad (thanks for the warning Hotels.com)! So we were comparatively a pretty ragtag bunch.
But then reality happened for this mom. A reality no one would see on social media.
The boys generally worked together on playing in the sand and dragging buckets of water from the ocean, but the baby kept wandering off, kept opening the snack cooler when it wasn't time for more snacks, cried often, and tried to eat sand a few times.
Mom got upset with increasing frequency and Lord knows she never stopped talking, directing, and yelling. The nice tones and calm voices she used early on all changed.
Please understand, this is not me judging her. Whoever she is, she is a great mom. I salute her for her incredible bravery and fortitude to even consider going it alone near an ocean while being massively outnumbered. She was optimistic about keeping the day and the boys in check and mostly, they were. But she could not relax. She appeared to be living in some fantasy world of an L.L. Bean catalog. When things didn't look like she wanted them to, she got pretty upset. (I will come back to her in a followup post.)
My first take-away? I realized at that moment that there is incredible strength
in the ability to relax. I have gotten very good at this since pandemic life began and I am really grateful!
There is great calm when we drop expectations and just enjoy what is in the right now.
Carrying fear, worry, anxiety, and stress into your day does not make it easy to relax, those things just tend to build on each other and magnify. You feel defeated, deflated, exhausted, and ready to "call it a day" by noon. Added to this is the fact that your body finds ways to not play along nicely because stress is its foe.
When you feel defeated and exhausted, it is very difficult to feel anything else. This turns into not wanting to put on makeup or a nice outfit. It turns into not nourishing your body well and less desire to make and eat thoughtful meals. You may reject the idea of seeking support or asking for help because you feel embarrassed.
If you don't give yourself the time and space to relax or time to do things that re-energize you, how does your battery get recharged?
If your battery doesn't get recharged, how can you keep going?
What support do you need in order to have some time for yourself?
Taking care of yourself is VITAL. Taking time to relax in whatever way that happens for you is 100% a necessity, not a luxury.
And even if it was a luxury, who said you aren't worth it???
P.S. You are worth it!
Taking time for yourself doesn't have to cost any money. It can be as simple as taking a walk alone, taking a longer than usual shower and having a warm towel waiting, sitting on your porch with a cup of your favorite tea. Do something that gives you a chance to breathe and relax.
Don't make this bigger than it actually is, but definitely don't make it insignificant!
It is your time to relax, recuperate, contemplate, sing, stretch, whatever,
and to remind yourself that you are AMAZING and that you are actually doing GREAT!
This week, instead of looking at the areas you feel like you're not enough in, try telling yourself that you are actually doing GREAT and see what happens. For each positive thing happens during the day, congratulate yourself out loud.
You are amazing and you are an excellent mom!!!