How I Stopped Self-Sabotaging My Motherhood
First of all, thanks for clicking on this. I know you have approximately 12 seconds before someone needs you or you realize your toddler is being too quiet and probably putting your one nice bra in the toilet.
Since we're both short on time, I'm not going to give you the long list of hats I wear, businesses I own, or the many things on my plate that make life feel overwhelming. We are all busy. Wet get it.
What I will tell you is the one thing you probably actually care about, maybeeee even relate to, or will at least find entertaining--I have had about 49 meltdowns in the last month. And that’s putting it nicely.
However, two pints of non-dairy Ben and Jerry's ice cream and 12 ugly crying sessions later, I am actually a changed woman, and most notably, a changed mother.
I've never loved being a mom more and my bra-drowning daughter has never seemed happier.
I redefined my job description as "mom."
You know how every job gives you a list of expectations? Well here are mine, redefined:
(Please note that this is a bare-bones list. I clearly do more than just these things. This is simply a survival list, not a thriving list. So don't come knocking down my door because I didn't include child-directed play, sign-language practice, or piano lessons. Please and thank you.)
My New and Improved, Bare Minimum, Motherhood Job Description and Requirements:
1. Feed Child
2. Change Child's Diaper
3. Play with Child
4. Put Child to Sleep
5. Talk to Child
6. Pray with and for Child
7. Temporarily Leave Child
Did you catch that?
Yes, I said leaving my child is a requirement for my job.
But that feels backwards, right? We often see breaks as a luxury, not a requirement.
The thing is, I am a changed mother because I started asking for and accepting help. And I don't mean ask your mom to bring dinner over or take out your trash. I mean leave your child in the care of another human you trust for more than the time it takes you to pee.
In fact, get in your car, put the key in the ignition, slowly transfer weight from your foot onto the gas pedal, and put miles between you and your offspring. Even just one hour will do.
Important note: GOING TO GET GROCERIES ALONE DOES NOT COUNT (even if its helpful some days.)
Mamas, sisters, please, for the love of all things holy, STOP FEELING GUILTY ABOUT NEEDING A BREAK. Because here's the thing, we call it a break, but its not a break. A break implies that there is something you ought to be doing, that you temporarily stop doing.
But if taking time away is just as important as feeding your baby, then time away is not a break from motherhood, its a vital part OF YOUR MOTHERHOOD.
No one human can adequately fill another human's love tank. It is literally impossible and we were not designed for it.
When we start trying to be the sole person who fills someone else's tank (spouse, child, friend,) we always fall short. And when we try to have someone else entirely fill our tank, we will always feel let down. Because its not how we were designed.
Especially as stay at home mom's, we feel like motherhood is the job we have chosen, and needing time away means we are failing at our job.
But sister, time away should be PART of your job description, a sign that you are doing your job well.
If you are with literally anyone every waking second of the day, you will always, without a shadow of a doubt, do two things:
1. Take each other for granted.
2. Want to kill each other.
Listen, I am head-over-freaking-heels for my husband. I actually believe he is the hottest man on the planet, and I double dog dare any woman to challenge me on that. But you know when that love is re-ignited most? After a day away from him. And he is pretty near perfect, so its not that he's kind of a bummer some days and a break is nice. Its just our human nature to need both shared space to connect with others, and solo space to connect with ourselves and recenter. Its how we are wired and there is no shame in that game.
My guy is an incredible husband and even roommate. He cooks. He cleans. He fathers better then most fathers and mothers combined. He makes me feel beautiful and wanted. But I take ALL of that for granted, if it is in my face every second of every day.
And its no different with our children.
Needing time away does not make you a bad mom, it makes you a wise one.
And needing time away does not make your children bad children, it makes them human.
I realized all the multi-tasking 24/7 and being with my daughter every second of every day, was actually starving her of my love and attention, because its not quantity that she needs most (although thats important too), its quality.
The happiest I have seen her lately, was after 2 hours with her grandma. And I realized grandmothers love grandchildren in ways that mothers cannot, and we ought to celebrate that. And mom's love their children in ways that grandparents cannot, and we ought to celebrate that. So when we say, it takes a village, it literally takes a village to love your child the way God designed them to be loved--its a team effort!
So, playing the super hero and not asking for help? Its not only hurting you, its keeping your child from love that they need to strive.
Maybe you're reading this and the whole grandparent thing feels like a sting, because you're not on good terms with grandparents, or maybe they've passed, or you just don't live near them.
I hear you. That complicates this for sure. But this is where parenting is a continual trust fall. We can trust God to fill in the places where the people in our lives are missing. Maybe you have a best friend, a mother-figure, a neighbor, some soul you trust and who would be blessed by time with your child.
Ask that person for help. And if you don't have that person, start asking for help from God to provide people in your life who you can trust.
The greatest gift we can give ourselves and our children is not only accepting, but celebrating our need for help as a crucial part of our motherhood.
In fact, its all really just gift-giving:
What a gift to my daughter that she gets to learn how to share space with people other than mommy!
What a gift to my daughter that she gets to be loved in SO many ways, by a number of different people (who we've chosen because we trust their style of loving and know it will bless her!)
What a gift to my daughter that I can tell her "mommy doesn't make the world go 'round! If I step out for a moment, the world keeps turning. But let me tell you about Who we believe does make the world go 'round."
Mama, you were made to carry a baby on your shoulders, not the world. If we stopped trying to carry the world, we just might feel a little less tired, and actually have strength to carry our babies.