You hear a lot of talk about how moms need to stop judging and shaming each other. How we should all be more accepting of each other. But you don’t hear often hear about how we need to be more accepting of ourselves. How we need to stop telling ourselves that we have failed, that we aren’t enough. Because whether we realize it or not, that same voice (that unfortunately often gets typed into the comment box on Facebook) that has decided that other mom is terrible for this or that, is giving ourselves the same message.
Have you ever stopped and listened to that voice? To that running commentary in your head? The one that says you would never feed your kid those trans-fat filled cupcakes piled high with red dye #5 tainted frosting? That same voice is usually telling us that our house is a mess, we yell too much and our kids have too much screen time when they should be engaging in a hands-on STEM activity. It also tells us that good moms throw themed birthday parties for their daughters (that emphasize girl power, not gender stereotypes) and pack healthy, organic, themed lunches in a Bento box. I mean, that one mom is doing all that and more, so what’s our problem?
While that example may be a bit extreme, if you stop and really think about it, deep down, are those the messages you are sending yourself? Do you find yourself feeling guilty and ashamed for not being to do more or be more? Are you more focused on your failures as a mom or your successes? When you finally get a few minutes to talk to a friend, do you tell her something that went well that day? Or are you like me where you spend those precious moments commiserating? We all just want to know that we aren’t alone, that we aren’t the only one who still has dirty dishes in their sink from last Tuesday. That we aren’t the only ones who lost our tempers…again.
While I think it’s important to share honestly with other moms so that we can shatter that false image we have in our heads of what life is like inside the neighbor’s house, I also think we need to stop focusing on the ways we have fallen short. We need to stop focusing on the ways we haven’t met our own expectations for motherhood, the ways we aren’t the moms we want to be.
Because what about the times we are the moms we want to be? The fun mom, the creative mom, the laid back mom, the mom whose house everyone wants to be at? None of us can be that way all the time, but I think we have moments where we are. I think if we stopped beating ourselves up for the times when we miss the mark, we might see those victories more often.
So, yes, please stop judging the mom at Target who is probably just doing the best she can. You don’t know her story, so extend her some grace. But how about you extend that same grace to yourself? Not only are you doing the best you can (well, most days…I mean, let’s be honest, sometimes I just sit my butt down on the couch and give up for the day ;) but there are moments where you are rocking this mom thing. Sometimes we actually have a #welldonemom moment. There are moments when I pat myself on the back for making the effort to be the mom that I want to be and I feel proud of myself. And that’s a good thing. That’s not bragging when you compare it to the usual message in our heads.
So after you tell your friend that your toddler drew on the walls again because you were too busy on Facebook to notice (because sharing real life is crucial for survival!) how about you share how you were the fun mom you have always longed to be by going outside and playing basketball with your son and his friends? Or tell her about that time you let your kid get messy even though you were cringing on the inside the whole time.
Or what if we took it a step further and shared these #welldonemom moments with the world? Let’s show the world that we are going to put the pitch forks down and give genuine kudos to others AND ourselves. I know, for many of us, that second one is going to be really hard. And it’s going to make you feel really uncomfortable. I know it does me. So I will go first. =)
Go to Instagram and my secondary account www.instagram.com/welldonemom where I will be highlighting those of us who are willing to let go of the self-recrimination and acknowledge a win. Join with me in sharing your own moments you are proud of as a mom. Or (with permission) share something another mom did that made you want to give a public kudos. If you use #welldonemom or tag me with a @welldonemom, I will try to feature your photo!
Just a note: I can’t wait to see what you share! I think it goes without saying, though ,that these are not moments when your kid does well and you want to take credit. This isn’t a #proudmommymoment where we get to brag about our kids and how awesome they are. This is about us. This is about sharing a moment when you (or someone else) did something that aligned with the kind of mom you aspire to be. Although I am sure your kids are awesome too! =)