I was dozing to sleep on the couch for the second time today- holy moly growing a baby is exhausting. The time was 4:30 pm -witching hour- the kids were tired from skipping naps, hungry and wanting all the treats they could find, fighting over a piece of fluff they found on the floor, and Dad had just texted to say he needed to work late. All of my “sweet mommy voice” had run out after breaking up arguments and dealing with tantrums all day. Being house bound from the terribly cold and snowy weather was starting to affect all of us. That nauseous feeling from pregnancy was picking up again and there was a very high chance we were having Kraft Dinner or pancakes for supper. I was feeling overwhelmed. There was nothing left to give and the day still had so many hours…
I seem to have many moments like earlier today. I want so badly to be “Super Mom”… but sometimes that ideal seems far away.
I have been doing a lot of self-contemplation and studying on parenting. There are a few things that I have learned that have been helpful in my quest for becoming “Super Mom”:
Remember, you are NOT a bad Mom.
When I look back at my own childhood, I can remember only certain things about my Mother. I am sure she felt a ton of self-doubt and guilt as she was raising us, but I’m here to tell you she is NOT a bad mom.
In fact, I think she is quite spectacular. I don’t know if she often lost her temper or raised her voice: I do remember her making an effort to play barbies with me and making me feel talented and important. I can’t recall if there were dirty dishes left in the sink at night, but I do know that I never went hungry (even if I did complain about what was for dinner). I’m not sure if the house was always in order, or if we were always well kept and groomed. I do know that we sang songs together and I always got tucked in at night. I don’t think all of our food was organic or gourmet, but I was always so excited when my mom saved me a tiny bowl of cookie dough to eat if she made cookies while I was at school.
When I ponder my own mother I realize that it is SO easy for mothers to be too hard on themselves (myself included). She did her best and her best is all I can remember. Everyone is trying to be a good Mother, the problem is we compare ourselves and feel like we don’t measure up. Every Mother has bad days, messy floors (at least that’s what I tell myself), and children who aren’t always perfectly behaved.
My children’s futures aren’t going to be dramatically damaged if I let them watch one more episode of paw patrol, or we don’t do a highly educational craft every day. Sometimes pancakes for dinner is all I can manage, and that’s ok: it fact, I’m sure my kids like it better anyhow.
Take time for yourself
I can’t be “Super Mom”, let alone any sort of Mom if I haven’t taken care of my own needs first. If the tank is empty, there is nothing I can give.
This month I read “A Joyful Mother of Children” by Linda J. Eyre. One aspect of her book that really stood out to me was how she emphasized that every mother should take time for herself to regroup, plan, and find herself. She said:
“William James described a woman’s life as more and more a state of Zerrissenheit, a German word meaning torn-to-pieces-hood. We have to take time to turn our thoughts inward to think and to contemplate our direction and our intent- before we can be of any help to others.”(p.51)
Sometimes when I take time for myself (like right now as my husband is putting kids to bed) I feel selfish. My children always need me, and I feel like I should always be there. To that Linda Eyre says “We mothers have to be “selfish” (or at least selfless, depending on which way you look at it) enough at least once a week to spend some time alone. And again, I’m convinced that where there’s a will there’s a way” (pg. 55)
Since I am pregnant and ill, this month I have mostly watched Netflix, stretched with yoga, or read books for “me” time. I also made an effort to study scriptures and pray, which really helped me be centered and take on each day. All of these things give me time to rest, contemplate things, and become stronger: all in the process of becoming “Super Mom”. I still feel overwhelmed throughout the week, but I always notice a difference in my parenting when I find time to decompress and focus on my own needs.
See the world through their eyes
Trying to see the world the way my child does: something I worked really hard on this month. Toddlers are so full of wonder and imagination, and can also swing from one mood to another within a matter of seconds. It’s very easy to get frustrated and angry when a full blown tantrum comes, but as I stop and think about what they are feeling it is much easier to see where their worry is coming from and what they need. Usually what they need is me: more attention from me. To this Linda Eyre recommends that we “take time to sit back and think about one child at a time. Look at the world through his eyes for a few minutes… This is a hard mental exercise, but if you stick to it for a few minutes you will begin to realize why he is the way he is. Visualize how his personality is fitting in with his surroundings, and think what you can do to help. Do something special just for him.”(p.97)
It’s so much easier to be a better Mom when I have an inkling of how they see the world around them.
So although I may have slept on the couch for a few minutes while my children played with a Mr.Potato head and we did indeed have pancakes for dinner tonight, I am counting myself as a “Super Mom”: I think you should too. None of us are perfect, and the demands of motherhood will constantly be changing- molding us into even more “super” moms. Devoting one month of searching for answers on strengthening myself in motherhood hasn’t changed the world, but it has helped me learn and grow a little. I have a long way to go, but I’ll be sure to pass on any more awesome super powers to you as I find them.