As moms, we often worry (ok, always) about what people think. Not because we lack self-confidence, or want approval, but more so because there are so many ways to parent. If you’re like me, not having a clear cut right vs. wrong path in motherhood was more stressful than if there was one. We are constantly worried if we’re choosing not just a good choice, but the best choice. One thing I learned later than I should have is that more often than not, the people on the other side of my worries and concerns support me a lot more than I imagined rather than judge me. I’m not talking about peers or Facebook friends, I am talking about that person who sees all of you all the time. That’s right- your husband.
My husband is a great sounding board. He listens, comforts me when I cry, but he is just not an emotional guy who will willingly share his feelings unless I ask (as in force them out of him, sometimes with threats). So one day, I thought, why not- instead of stewing in my own thoughts wondering what he as a dad wished I knew as a mom- ask him. His answers are something I think all moms need to hear (me most of all).
You can take a break.
Do you ever announce you’re going to the bathroom? To your room? It’s almost ingrained in me that I need to “ask” to take a break from being with my daughter and husband. For a long time, I wouldn’t dare ask someone to take her so I could rest. To this day, I feel guilty when I ask him to spend time with her so I can go shower or possibly focus on something around the house. So hearing this was a relief. You can take a break- run errands, watch a show in bed, sit in peace outside, or anything that helps you unwind. You don’t have to be on 24/7, and no one should expect you to. Breaks are necessary, and burning out is not a medal of honor. It’s a lack of support that should be looked into and worked out with your partner instead.
You do enough.
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt great about what you were doing until you hear what someone else is doing? I have. Some days I feel like we have a great home routine, we spend great quality time together and have our priorities straight. I feel like this often happens when someone has more time than me or is more creative than me about kid activities tells me about their experiences. Is our routine really ok? Do we really spend enough quality time doing quality activities? Unclench. You do enough. Families and bonding are not one size fits all. At the end of the day, if you and your children are happy, that is all that matters. If you compare yourself to others, you will be the only one who loses. It’s healthy to get ideas and want to grow as a family, but it is not ok to put yourself down as if you don’t already do enough for your family and children.
Forgive yourself from your own expectations.
This one felt very personal, and I know it was. When I first became a mom I had a very strict version of what I wanted motherhood to be like for me, and for me to be like as a mom. I created this unhealthy level of expectations that because of normal events, I could not meet. I consistently felt like a failure in my own motherhood journey, but only because I made it this way for myself. Looking back, that’s not fair to me. I felt like a prisoner that no matter what anyone said, I had to meet my own expectations, or I was wrong. I can tell you this- it has not completely gone away, and I know it was a huge part of my PPA and PPD- but I now know I deserve grace, help, and that the only expectation that matters is raising a healthy, loved child. Not pumping the most, breastfeeding success, or following a minute-by-minute schedule.