Being a mom is one of the most beautiful chaotic overwhelming miracles ever. It’s a marriage of absolute joy and complete exhaustion that I have never seen in any other area of my life. Nowhere else in my life have I deeply and totally loved someone while equally wondering if they will be the end of me some days. It’s exhausting and the ever-ringing mantra of treasure it chimes in my ear like an unrelenting gong. Well, let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about 6 real mom struggles that everyone tries to cover up.
6 Real Mom StrugglesLet me be clear. Not all moms will struggle with everything here. However, this is an honest post for the mom who just really loves her child with all she is while still struggling with some core truths of this whole mothering gig. This is a beautiful journey but it isn’t always an easy one!
Post-Partum DepressionWhen my daughter was born I expected all of the motherly instincts to come rushing in like a tide. I expected to know how to do everything to care for her and to be the queen of baby land. I did not expect a very painful episiotomy, a screaming colicky baby, a mother in law who was losing it, and a husband who was too overwhelmed to process this new beginning. I felt so broken and so alone at the beginning of my daughter’s life. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. Everyone was supposed to be happy. I was supposed to be happy. But I wasn’t. I cried and cried and cried. I can vividly remember days when I sat on my couch with my screaming baby in my arms crying. I didn’t know how to help her and I thought it was all my fault. It took a long time for me to get the help I needed but I am so so thankful for friends who spoke into my darkness. Friends who said, no. You don’t have to feel this way. Mothering is hard but not this hard. Let me lighten your load. Let’s talk to your doctor and let’s find you some relief. I made it thru, but it sucked. SO bad. If you are dealing with postpartum depression, you are not a failure as a mother. Not even close. Your body is simply overwhelmed with some huge changes. Reach out for help. Don’t do this alone. I wish I would have known then that hormones can get out of balance and leave you with feelings beyond your control. I wish I would have asked for help sooner. Read more about postpartum depression.
3 Things to do if you think you are struggling with postpartum depression
- Reach out to your doctor. Sometimes baby blues are something more. Reaching out to your doctor can give you the chance to talk through it and see if it is more than just the baby blues.
- Reach out to a friend. You were not made to mother alone. There’s this huge myth in the mothering world that you have to be a perfect supermom the second your baby is born. YOU DON’T!
- Find safe ways to process your situation while making sure your baby is cared for. When you are in the midst of a screaming baby or a really hard moment it can feel really hopeless. Ask a friend if you can come over, see if someone can keep the baby so you can nap and recharge, or if there isn’t someone to ask put the baby in the crib and step into the other room for 10 minutes to compose yourself. Don’t leave them there for too long but it is ok to put down your baby so that you can protect them.
Mom GuiltIf someone would have told me when I got pregnant that there would be a constant alarm going off in my brain telling me that I wasn’t doing enough for my child I wouldn’t have believed them. But that’s mom guilt. Mom guilt is this ever-present alarm ready to blare as loudly as possible that you are messing up your kid. That you are not enough. That you are failing this parenting thing. It screams loud sometimes. Other times it is a simple whisper. “You forgot the diaper bag. What were you thinking? Did you pack that for lunch? Really?!” It’s that small insecure voice inside that constantly tells moms they just aren’t enough. Guess what, you are. You are enough for the child you have and the child you were chosen to raise. You may not be enough to raise Susan’s perfect little angels but you are perfectly qualified for your messy blessings. You are enough for the little one in your care and mom guilt can stuff it.
3 Things to do if you think you are struggling with mom guilt
- Stop the comparison game. You will never parent the way other moms do because you aren’t parenting their children or coming from their background. Judging yourself based on someone else’s parenting standard is like looking at someone speaking a language you’ve never learned and being mad that you can’t speak that language without training. You were not made for their situation. You were made for yours!
- Make a list of positives. When we get in our own heads we like to list off all of the negatives about parenting abilities. Take some and list out your mom wins. Did you spend quality time with your child? Did you love selflessly? Did you make their needs a priority? Celebrate those wins instead of focusing on perceived failures.
- If in doubt, ask a friend. Sometimes we really can’t see ourselves clearly. It helps to talk to a friend and ask them, “what do you think are my strengths as a mom?” When you are so caught up in your own self doubt you won’t see yourself clearly. Let your friends remind you of who you are when you forget.
I need to fit…Momming brings with it a whole new world. It’s like every playdate, park day, and get together is an audition to see what kind of mom you are and if you will measure up. Between the crunchy mom who never feeds her kids the junk you do, the super faith-filled mom who would never say what you do, and the super sweet mom who never yells, you sit there wondering where you fit. Guess what, you fit. The problem is most moms put on a mask. They put whatever they see as their best attribute forward and they hyper-focus on that. So they can breastfeed. They are going to make sure you know their latch is awesome but maybe they don’t talk about the fact that they can’t seem to keep the house clean. So they are awesome at keeping the kids behaving. They aren’t going to talk about the fact that they are so tired at the end of the day, there’s nothing left. Don’t be fooled by it and don’t fall into that trap. Instead, be real with someone. Be 100% all out real about who and what you are. You may not make friends with everyone but I can speak from experience that you will make friends with the REAL people and trust me, those are the moms you need to do this life with anyway.
3 Things to do if you are struggling with the need to fit
- Know who you are. – It is really important to take some time and figure out what your identity. Sometimes the need to fit comes from a need to be validated. I want to challenge you to figure out who you are as a mom (knowing it will change the whole way through) and who you are as a person. It will help you to build the right relationships.
- Research some of the groups before you go. – I like to spend some time finding out more about the mom group before I ever show up. Sometimes the group may have very different beliefs or be from a different financial level than you and it can cause frustration.
- Find moms that are like you. It can be so tempting to try and find the mom you wish you were and try to fit in with her. Don’t. It’s exhausting. Instead, find people you can relate to on your level.
Mom AngerBeing mad at your kids these days is treated as one of the 7 deadly sins. They are tiny people and you are to always adore them and never get mad at them. Well, guess what, those tiny people make you mad. They do things that are incomprehensible to an adult. My daughter once exploded 2 whole bags of flour in her room. It looked like a white Christmas in there. I walked in, saw the room, said, “oh hell no.” and walked right back out. I informed my husband that was his party. Sometimes we have to own the fact that part of this parenting gig is getting mad. It’s not all sunshine and roses. It’s gut-wrenching, soul-crushing, heartbreaking situations too. You can’t have the beauty without the chaos!
3 Things to do if you struggle with mom anger
- Know your triggers. Take some time and look at what triggers your mom anger. Don’t list out MY KID. We know kids can be frustrating. I’m talking more about things like not having control, not being able to keep certain things clean, or being off schedule. Knowing your triggers can help you to work to overcome the anger reaction they trigger.
- Choose your battles. It can be tempting to try and fix it all. Not every battle is going to matter. Choose your battles and decide what is really worth standing for.
- Know when to take a break and step away. It can be so tempting to try and stand your ground. I know I still struggle that with sometimes. Be willing to step away and focus on calming down so you can handle the situation with peace.
DisciplineEverywhere we turn someone is telling us the right and wrong way to discipline our children. No one agrees. Every choice you make to discipline is too lenient and too harsh all at the same time. No matter how much time and heart you put into deciding what the right way to raise your child is, someone will disagree. I can’t tell you the right way for your child. I am still learning how to handle mine. In the years I have been their mom, I have spanked, grounded, yelled, whispered, bargained, stood my ground, and countless other things at each season of life. We’ve done corners, quiet room time, banning favorite toys, and even a few garbage bags of their favorite things being thrown out because they wouldn’t clean. There is no perfect answer to discipline. Every child is corrected and learns in a different way. You will not have the same success disciplining one child the way you do the other. It won’t ever be perfect but you won’t do it alone.
3 Things to do if you struggle with discipline
- Look at the kids you have. Everyone will give you their opinions of how you should discipline. At the end of the day it won’t matter. You have the kids in front of you to be accountable to and they may not respond to the same discipline a friend uses. Take some time to focus on what works for your children.
- Set healthy boundaries. I know that discipline is a hard issue and it’s even harder if there aren’t healthy boundaries in place. Sit down and discuss with your parenting partner how you will and will not discipline your child.
- Honor your boundaries. It’s one thing to set rules and boundaries with a cool head. It’s another thing to follow them in the heat of the moment. Make sure that you are honoring your boundaries and making safe discipline a priority in your home.
DepressionFrom a young age, I’ve always battled depression. Yet something in me swore that becoming a mother would change that. I was so sure that I would be so covered with joy over my new baby that depression wouldn’t be mine anymore. So I quit medicating my depression and I went forward in ignorance. I won’t lie. My pride kept me from dealing with depression. The very child that was supposed to bring me joy, brought me to tears. I was overwhelmed and exhausted at all times. A few years ago I owned my mom depression. I owned the fact that I am never going to be 100% on my own and that’s ok. I sought the help I needed and was able to find the balance I need. It’s not perfect. There are still hard days, hormonal days, and just bleh days. However, I have found the balance I needed and it has helped me mother my children in a healthier way. Read more about depression. Do you struggle with depression? You are not less of a mom if you ask for help.
3 Things to do if you are struggling with depression.
- Reach out to your doctor. It could be hormonal, it could be a health issue, or it could be a chemical imbalance. Reaching out to your doctor doesn’t mean you are weak. It means you are checking in on your health.
- Check in with a friend. When going through a depression it can be easy to isolate yourself. Can I challenge you to reach out to a friend who will check in on you and push you to do what you need for your mental health? I know when I was in the bad parts of my depression a friend had to challenge me to get up and get moving.
- Get into counseling. Counseling is so often seen as admitting weakness or defeat. It’s not though. Instead, it’s about being honest with yourself about where you struggle and getting an outside perspective to help you work through it. Don’t be afraid to add counseling for a season to work through your struggles and be a healthier version of yourself.