From the moment you first held your child in your arms (soaked in birthing fluid though they may have been) they had your heart. All of the expectations you’d built up over nine months couldn’t prepare you for how much love, devotion, and joy you experienced at that moment. As mothers, we never forget how that moment felt. It’s what drives nearly everything decision we’ll make for the rest of our lives.
But it’s that same feeling that can make us feel completely worthless as mothers. If we’re being honest ladies – we already tend to beat ourselves up when we don’t execute something flawlessly. It’s bad enough when we feel like we let ourselves down. It’s even worse if we think we’re failing our children.
The simple fact of the matter is that there aren’t any perfect mothers. Motherhood is going to force you to make some very difficult decisions and face some hard truths, that will make you feel like the worst mother in history. Don’t lose hope though! You’re doing better than you think. Below, we’ll explore some of the hard truths that every mother has to face. We’ll also give you some points of encouragement to help you get through your most difficult moments.
You’re Not Going to Be Perfect
This is the hardest pill to swallow for every mother on the planet, especially for first-time moms. Every ounce of logic you possess will tell you that it’s impossible to be perfect, especially in parenting. Fact: when it comes to our children, we tend to think with our heart instead of our head. Nearly every mother on the planet has thought to themselves that they were a failure.
Here’s the good news – no matter how you may feel, you’re not failing.
The Perfection of Imperfection
Instead of viewing motherhood as a contest you can win or lose, you need to think of it as a journey. In every journey, you’ll have successes and failures. There will be times when the road is smooth and other times when you have to climb a rocky hill. Naturally, that means you’ll stumble and fall from time to time.
You can’t judge a journey based on one instance of failure or one moment of victory. You have to judge it based on the end. The end of your journey will ideally result in a child that’s ready to face the world completely on their own. So long as they’re clothed, fed, healthy, and happy, then trust me – you’re doing a great job!
You Can’t Give Your Child Everything They Need
As mothers, we tend to feel obligated to provide for our child’s every need and every desire. Partially, it’s because we want them to feel happy and wanted. But if we’re being honest, it’s also because we want to feel happy and needed too. The truth is that our children will want to pursue their own interests and hang out with people that aren’t their mother at some point. When that happens, it can make us feel like our children don’t love us anymore.
This is a Sign of Growth and Progress
It’s easy to think that your child’s growing independence from you is an indicator that you’re not wanted. After all, when they were tiny, they depended on you for each and every little thing. Of course, they did! Babies are tiny, helpless creatures who can’t survive without momma!
As they grow, their desire to pursue their own activities with other people is a sign that they’re developing as an individual. It means they have a sense of their own identity, and they feel more confident in their ability to tackle the world on their own. Since that’s the ultimate goal of parenting, you should feel proud! Their growing independence means you’re doing your job as a mom!
Toughing Out a Bad Marriage Can Ruin Your Children
There’s a terrible piece of “common” wisdom that we need to nip in the bud right here and now. There’s a recurring myth that no matter how terrible your marriage is, you need to stay with your spouse for the sake of your children. In some instances, that may be true. In others, remaining in a relationship where you’re unhappy, angry, and terminally depressed can completely sabotage your children’s development.
The Collateral of Unhappy Commitment
There’s no denying that children develop better if both of their parents are active in their lives. However, that doesn’t mean both parents have to live under the same roof for children to get the love and support they need. Not convinced? Psychology Today noted four common issues found in children living in households with miserable, married parents:
- A chronic tension that leaves them anxious, exhausted, fatigued, and desperate to avoid their parents.
- Difficulty in developing relationships, especially with potential romantic partners
- Sudden shifts in mood that leave children incapable of processing emotions and far more susceptible to substance abuse
- A tendency to sabotage their efforts to achieve their goals with a fear of how it could hurt them
I know you’re just trying to do the right thing for your children, even if it makes you unhappy. But the hard truth is that if you’re miserable in your marriage, you and your husband are always fighting, and you can’t work through your differences, it’s in the best interest of your family to agree to separate.
You Have to Get Away From Your Children Now and Then
For young mothers, in particular, the idea that they would ever want to leave their children sounds absolutely ridiculous. Trust me – that feeling won’t last for long. No matter how much you love them, sooner or later, you’re going to want, even crave, a break from the kids. What many mothers struggle with is feeling like they’re abandoning their children when they take some time off.
Real talk – you need to do something besides being a mom every so often, and you don’t need to feel guilty about it. Before you had children, you had your own dreams, interests, hobbies, and circle of friends, right? Did that all go away when the kids came along? Of course not.
Believe it or not, taking some time to devote to yourself is one of the best things you can do for your children.
Keep Yourself Healthy to Keep Them Healthy
The reason you need some time for yourself is simple. When you stay in mommy mode all the time, you wear yourself out continuously. Enduring temper tantrums, crying babies, spilled juice cups, stained clothes, and all the other wonderful disasters that parenthood brings eat away at your sanity over time. If you go too long without recharging, it’s easy to slip into exhaustion. When you’re exhausted, it’s way easier to feel depressed. As that goes on, there’s a real danger that you really will start failing your children.
By taking some time, even if it’s just a half hour or so each day, to recharge, you’ll actually be a much more effective mother. Those quiet moments you take for yourself, short though they may be, allow you to hop back into mommy mode feeling refreshed and optimistic. When you’re feeling your best, you’ll be in a much better position to attend to your children’s needs.