Updated: Jan 1
Working moms can’t be good moms. That is one of “my” limiting beliefs that I constantly work on disproving and transforming. I have “my” in quotes because once I realized I held this belief, I realized that this “belief” wasn’t mine. It’s just the culture in which I was raised. I was raised my a stay-at-home mom who is the champion of all champions. Most of my sisters are stay-at-home moms and they’re all super human. Most of our limiting beliefs aren’t even OURS. They came from someone else. My inner bitch is constantly telling me that I don’t do enough for my kids, I don’t spend enough time with them, I only have 2 more years until Leah graduates, and I’ve messed it all up. You can’t be a good mom if you work.
And in the days leading up to John and my much needed getaway alone a couple weeks ago I was flooded with more mom guilt. Day and night. How dare I go away with just my husband when our family hasn’t been on a family trip in almost 2 years? Brandon got a job in April so he couldn’t go anywhere. Leah fell behind and still had classes online all summer. And in addition to the shit show of 2020, I started working outside the home for the first time in 11 years while Leah was doing school online at home alone. Then we start building a new home, selling ours, and we just moved. I just didn’t get my act together and plan a family vacation while we still could. And now school started again. Epic fail. Again. The days before John and I left for our getaway, I kept waking up in the middle of the night replaying all of the mistakes I’ve made in the last 18 months…well, 18 years, as a mother. I wish I would have given Leah more structure during lockdown when I was at work, and she was home. I wish I would have worked a few more days at home. I wish I would have persuaded my daughter to come on walks with us so she could get exercise and get outside. (I asked but she never wanted to. I wish I would have been more persistent) I wish I would have ordered less door dash and made more healthy home cooked meals. I wish I wouldn’t have withdrawn her from regular school in the first place. I wish online school was never ever ever ever ever ever invented. 😂 I failed over and over and over again. I was torturing myself thinking that I had made a huge mistake taking this job.
But. That’s just my inner bitch talking. There are a million positive things about this job. There were many amazing moments in the last 2 years.
Since I happen to be an expert in failing, feeling shame, focusing on my failures and feeling more shame, I thought I would share some of the strategies I use to help me silence that inner bitch and move forward. Since I fail all the time, I basically use these all day. And I’m not being self-deprecating to get sympathy or compliments, I’m really not. I truly think most of us moms are way too hard on ourselves, and I have finally figured out strategies that work. So I’m sharing. That’s the whole reason I started this blog. And PS I love you reading this. Thank you!
Speak the truth. Just because you believe something doesn’t make it true. The truth is, John and I have never had an actual vacation alone. We’ve done trips with groups, family trips, growth conferences, and we’ve gone away for 2 or 3 days to Sedona a couple times. But we’ve never had a real vacation alone where we just do…nothing. We didn’t even have a honeymoon. We took all four kids to Maui and got married. WE had a blast, but he didn’t. He was sick as a dog the whole time. I almost cancelled it several times leading up to our departure, but in the end, we thought perhaps sitting on the beach would help him feel better. It didn’t. He was admitted into the hospital right after we got home and didn’t come home for 8 days.
Secondly, I asked myself: What do I want to demonstrate to my kids? What role model do I want to be? Do I want my kids to go away with their spouses and have great marriages? Yes! I can’t wait! I will babysit! Do I want my daughter to run herself ragged and be a slave to her kids 24/7 in 10 years? No! I want her to practice self-care. I want her bucket to be filled up when she has a family. I want to show her that when you need a break you take it. When your husband has a birthday, you celebrate him. When you get married, you need alone time without kids. Period.
Everyone is doing the best they can. Every mom, every dad, every step dad, every kid. There is no freaking manual on how to manage a family during house arrest. But it’s over. Nothing good will come from me replaying all of the things I sucked at, and all of the things I wish I had done differently. This is an ongoing daily (almost hourly) practice for me. When that inner bitch says,
I say, “Yes. Yes I am. We need this. It’s 6 days. They will be fine.”
This is a WAY over
used example, but self-care is the same reason flight attendant tell us to put our oxygen masks on before we put our kids’ masks on. PS, I don’t think those oxygen masks are going to save anyone, but point is, we’re literally of no help if we’re passed out. Right? We’re literally of no help to anyone if we’re not helping ourselves first. We have to nurture our relationship with ourselves so that we can pour that goodness into others. Because, the opposite is also true. If we’re buying the candle at both ends and running ourselves ragged, we have nothing to give. Why then do we feel so damn guilty when we take care of ourselves?
It’s because we’re living in the past. You can’t be in the past and in the present at the same time. I love the saying. “The past is over. The future is unknown. Today is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.” Self-care is not selfish. It’s not a luxury. It’s not something you will do someday when you have more time. You’ll never have more time. There’s never a good time to do anything! Life is always going to be insane and crazy busy. Self-care is a necessity. Schedule it.
I know that I’m not going to be super patient with my kids if I don’t spend some time decompressing and meditating and praying and reading and journaling. Being a martyr and NOT taking care of myself is actually selfish. We are doing a disservice to all the people we love because if our bucket is empty, what are we giving? How are we showing up for them in the best way? We’re not. When we need a break, we need a break. And that includes a break from our kids (gasp…).
I write at length about self-care in my book because it’s so damn important and I had to learn to make this a priority. It’s a strategy. If you don’t care for your self, no one else will either.
“I tend to overwhelm myself with new diets, new routines, or new schedules, and I tend to take on too many new projects simultaneously. So, I decided to not do that and to make self-care a priority, breaking it down into very small steps that are doable and manageable. I felt more self-confident because I kept a promise to myself to set aside fifteen minutes just for myself. Serve yourself first so you have the energy to serve others for the rest of the day. The first fifteen minutes is for you to fuel up. Get ready to meet the love of your life by showing him and showing the universe that you are cared for, you are loved, you are loving, you have energy, and you are ready to serve.”
Here are some small things that help me quiet the mom guilt and focus on progress:
Remind myself that everything is a practice. Including silencing that inner bitch. Practice reframing what she says to me. When she says, “You suck and you failed. You could have done better.” I shift my focus on today. “Today, I will take action now. How can I do better today? Maybe it’s make dinner and have dinner as a family. Schedule it. Do it. Small steps, big wins!
Keep improving. It never ends because I always screw up! We can always improve! Even if something doesn’t go well, do one thing better today than yesterday. This week, we’ve door dashed dinner I think 4-5 days straight. We spent our last night on our home Monday. Everything was packed. Door dashed dinner. Tuesday we moved into a rental home. Door dashed dinner. On Wednesday, door dashed again, I told the kids I would make dinner Thursday night. Then I remembered I’d made dinner plans with another couple weeks ago…Fail. Well, today is Friday. Monday-Thursday are in the past. So I WILL make dinner, we WILL have dinner together tonight, and I will ask them if they want to play cards.
If things don’t work out exactly the way you wanted, have some grace. We don’t yell at our friends and loved ones when they make mistakes. Why are we yelling at ourselves? If what your inner bitch is saying something to you that you wouldn’t say to a 4-year-old, then it’s cruel and not true. What do they say…don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater (that phrase always creeps me out)? Don’t let yourself think the ENTIRE effort was a gigantic failure just because one piece doesn’t come together.
Focus on today.