Me Super Mom? No Thank You !
A study recently found that women, on average, start their day around 6 a.m., only to end it post 8 p.m. As mothers, our day probably begins a little earlier with caring for our children, home, and managing work (if we are working moms) – this also includes nursing sessions, tantrums, playdates, cleaning, filling school forms, drop-offs, and a zillion other micro-events in-between. I have described just a good day; one without illnesses, sleep issues, or midnight musings about the color of dinosaurs.
No wonder we are exhausted perpetually!
Before I was a mother, I pictured my life with children like something we see in a movie or an advertisement. It seemed so beautiful – we as a family seated around the breakfast table having a combo of waffles, pancakes, and maple syrup. All dressed (myself included) for the day twenty minutes ahead of schedule, leaving home in time to embrace and cuddle my kids before the school bus arrives. I then head out to work, come back to a spick and span home, and fix dinner. We as a family then enjoy dinner together, my kids go off to bed at 8.p.m. sharp, and then I unwind with a book, wine, or a movie with my husband. This was the stuff my dreams were made of.
But alas, not all dreams do come true.
Inspired by my dreams, I ventured and had kids, and today, in reality, my day never resembles the one in my dreams. I am barely able to get out of bed in time, let alone sit around the breakfast table leisurely with a breakfast of pancakes. The reality is that I am absolutely exhausted. In fact, I feel exhausted from the minute I wake up.
I am exhausted to wake up and do anything but pour milk over cereal.
I am too tired to brush the nest of knots from my daughter’s tangled hair while she yells at me.
I am too tired to look for erasers, sharpeners, pencils, socks, and a million other things my kids need me to find all the time.
It is not that I do not want to put in the effort and be a super mom; in fact, doing this is at the top of my priority list.
But again, I am exhausted to even think about my priority list. This just ends up making me feel guilty, and the guilt actually adds more exhaustion to my already exhausted state of mind. In the end, to escape the guilt, I try doing everything possible to feel like a good mom and end up feeling even worse. It is a vicious cycle.
Motherhood can do that to you, but does it really have to?
Dealing with a Teen
So, you finally have a teen in your house – this is precisely when you will be fired as the boss. You may be rehired as an advisor or a trusted friend if you have done a good enough job, and if you continue doing a good job, your teen may even follow your advice. Teens usually want to make their own decisions and think for themselves. Yet, do remember that teens have widely varying levels of maturity and that they are still kids, after all. Having teenagers can be a very scary time for parents, especially those who do not trust their teens.
The most effective parenting approach with teens is to concentrate on the relationship. Punishments do not really help and just drive your teen away; this makes it more difficult for you to know about what is going on in their lives, which is important for you to be a good parent. Love is really the only leverage you have with your teen.
It is appropriate for teens to be focused and oriented towards their peers than their parents, but children who come from families that are well-grounded and filled with love and unconditional support will always respond to their parents’ efforts to stay connected. Also, parents who have bonded effectively with their children at earlier stages feel invested enough in their children to stay connected, even if that requires a lot of effort.
I sometimes wonder if being a mother just means being exhausted. I recently had a vent out session with a friend who had two much older kids – you know, the been there, done that types. She just said to me, and nobody is going to force you to take a vacation, no one is really going to book a massage, let alone a getaway session for you, no one is going to ask you to go to the gym or ask you to sleep on time. You can shape the life you want to live and the life you deserve.
This advice really seemed to hit me, and I realized that I really want to do something about the way I feel all the time. I also realized that I am doing a much better job than I actually think (yes, even if it is just pouring milk over cereal), and I decided to give myself a break.
I am taking a break from the constant guilt of not being the “ideal” mom, and I have decided to purchase a “World’s Okayest Mom” mug for myself. What really matters is that my kids are happy, healthy, safe, and loved – we are doing fine.
I am taking a break from working late every night on my laptop and permitting myself to slow down and sip coffee, tea, or wine, whatever suits my mood.
I am taking a break from not playing developmentally-targeted games with my children and trying to keep them entertained and occupied constructively. I am spending relaxed, deliberate, and happy times together with them instead. Even if that means laying on the couch and just watching TV.
I am taking a break from feeling that my house has to look perfect all the time. It sometimes may, but at most times, it won’t. We have a family with children and don’t live in a museum – it is a busy family life that is constantly in motion. Sometimes there will be biscuit crumbs or jelly bean stains on the couch, books spread in the dining area, or toys on the floor – that is real life.
I am taking a break from thinking how good I would look if I could lose some weight – I am healthy and happy, that is enough for my family and me.
I am taking a break from doing all the things at home and assigning more tasks to my husband and children. Assignments can be completed, kids can be dropped/picked to school, veggies and fruits can be picked up, and wardrobes can also be arranged without you.
I am taking a break from not taking a break, finally deciding to do a getaway with my best friend, a winter vacation with my sister, and an anniversary trip with my husband minus the kids.
I am taking a break from feeling like I am not enough. While there is still a lot that I want to achieve, I am focusing less on feeling incompetent and taking baby steps to reach my goals.
The fact that you want to be a good mother makes you one automatically. Your children do not need fancy gourmet meals, elaborate crafts, or a picture-perfect house. They need a healthy, happy, and relaxed version of you – there is no better gift that you could give them. However, if you are exhausted, remember that you can always fake it through – there is no shame in that, Mumma. I want to be a good mom to my kids, and my kids need to know that their mama ain’t perfect, and that is fine.
Motherhood is an intense, overwhelming, exhausting, yet amazing journey – and I know that I am the only one who can really control how I handle my journey.