Finding support for moms can be so hard. The journey seems infinitely long and on some days completely impossible. Over the years I’ve learned some incredible truths about parenting and about myself. I am taking some time today to share 10 things I have learned from parenting as well as support for moms like me.
Support for Moms
Every motherhood journey is different and this post does not encompass all the support or learning there is for a mother. Instead, this is meant to be a help and an encouragement to you from a mom who’s still walking this mothering journey.
1. Mental health issues and Post Partum are NOT weakness!
2. Parenting Special Needs is Hard but Possible
3. You Do Have Enough Love
4. Education choice is a process
5. Strong emotions need boundaries
6. Toxic people don’t have a right to my kids
7. Some days I was a BAD mom
8. No matter what mom choice you make, someone will judge
9. It’s ok not to hustle
10. It’s ok to be honest with kids about big issues
Mental health issues and Post Partum are NOT weakness!
When I was expecting my daughter I had grand visions of what being a mother would be. I was so sure that I was going to be the best mom ever and never have a hard time. My labor was going to be perfect and I was going to be in control of everything. That was the vision. To say the least, that did not happen!
Instead, there was fear and trepidation around her birth. They warned me that she would have severe downs syndrome and not function in the real world. Instead of my ideal birth, I had a birth in a room full of ten people convinced my daughter would come into the world barely breathing. While she came out nearly perfect, I was traumatized by the entire experience of her birth.
After her birth, there was a lot of family drama. My husband worked all the time and didn’t adjust well to the addition of a baby. He wasn’t quite ready to share me with anyone as we were newly married. I dealt with severe postpartum depression in the beginning.
I remember sitting there holding a screaming baby as I cried my eyes out. My poor girl had colic and I felt like a failure every moment of every day as she cried. I wanted to be a happy mom! I had to come to a place where I was willing to reach out for help.
Over my mothering journey, this issue with depression has been a constant companion. I have been consistently working through the process and learning more of what it takes to mother with depression. I will be sharing more on the blog coming soon about this journey but I will tell you the following three things because they are so so important. I would also encourage you to find a safe space to go where you don’t have to be alone.
3 Things I’ve learned about mothering with depression
- You aren’t weak if you ask for help! – The strongest thing you can do as a mother is to reach out for the help you need. Whether that help means counseling or medication, you aren’t weak. You are strong enough to try.
- The people who matter won’t judge you. – We can be our harshest critics as moms. When struggling with depression we need to understand that our health is more important than the opinions of others. Moreso, the people who really matter won’t judge you.
- There are TONS of resources available to you! – I am working on a blog post with more of those resources. For now, I will share a few great ones for you to look into.
Resources for Mom Depression
If you are in need of emergency help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the suicide prevention hotline or text HOME to 741741.
Find out more about anxiety and depression from ADAA.
Parenting Special Needs is Hard but Possible
When my children were small they had horrendous asthma. We spent more days living in the hospital than I would have liked. When we weren’t in the hospital, we were running back and forth to the doctor or picking up another prescription. I remember spending so many nights without sleep and filled with worry. As they got older, they outgrew their asthma and became a lot healthier.
However, the improved health led to new struggles I didn’t anticipate. My daughter was struggling with anxiety something fierce though I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. We fought hard for a diagnosis and for answers about how I should parent her. I spent more than one night crying my eyes out in fear. I just didn’t know how to fix it.
We fought through anxiety, night terrors, and then just for fun dyslexia joined the party. It was an exhausting season of life. I spent many days wondering if I would ever be enough for them. I wondered if I would ever be able to help them grow and thrive with these special needs. I have to tell you, it gets better.
It will 100% be hard and one of the biggest struggles ever BUT that’s not where it stops! Instead, that’s where the adventure begins! You will be stretched beyond yourself but you will also become the strongest version of yourself. You will become a resource detective and a solution scientist. Make sure to create a safe space for yourself and a teen safe space as well! You will definitely need it!
3 Things I’ve learned about mothering a child with special needs
- You won’t get it all right! As moms, we want to do everything right and know all the answers. You won’t. I think one of the best things any special needs mom can do is own the fact that they won’t do it all right.
- You are stronger than you think you are. I know that this season will feel impossible. I can promise you one thing. You are stronger than you think! Everything you need in order to succeed in parenting a child with special needs will come as you walk this road.
- You NEED a strong support network. These don’t have to be people in your family or current circle of friends but you do need someone you can lean on and vent to. I highly recommend connecting with a local support group or online support group that will encourage and equip you to succeed.
Resources for Parenting a Child with Special Needs
Don’t miss this long list of resources from Special Needs Planning.
Looking for educational information? Don’t miss these tips.
You Do Have Enough Love
One of my biggest fears when welcoming my second child into the world was that I wouldn’t have enough love for him. For months, I had nightmares about it. I was sure that I would either have to stop loving my daughter or stop loving my son because there wouldn’t be enough love.
I was so wrong! I felt like the Grinch. My heart grew ten sizes bigger to accommodate loving a second child. I didn’t always have the time for everything. Rarely did I do balance well when dividing my attention. However, I was 100% able to love both of them!
3 Things I’ve learned about having enough love
- Love and time are not the same! You may not have enough time to do it all. In fact, I will guarantee you probably won’t have enough time. However, love and time are not the same. Focus on quality, not quantity.
- Love doesn’t look the same for each kid. You will love both of your children in different ways. It doesn’t have to look the same way. In fact, it probably won’t look the same way. Love each child where they are.
- Love isn’t always mushy. Some days love won’t mean mushy lovey dovey feelings. Instead, love will be showing up when you’ve depleted your resources and feel so exhausted you can’t keep moving. You will love both children if you remember that love isn’t always the mushy stuff.
Education choice is a process
When my kids were small I was set on homeschooling. I was sure that I would homeschool both of them for their entire lives. In my head, I was going to graduate brilliant kids who never touched the school system. That’s not how life went though. My daughter decided to go to school last year and my son followed suit this year.
Instead of homeschool evaluations and unit studies, we moved to learning how to handle a school setting, what teachers expect, and so much more! It’s been a crazy adventure but at the core, the goal was to give my children their best educational option. I had to learn that education choice is a process.
You may not always have the educational choice you hoped for. You may have to fight harder than you ever wanted to in order to give them their best. I know that I fought like all craziness to homeschool. I pushed past my weaknesses and overcame so much to give them what they need.
When they moved into school I fought for them in different ways. I fought for them to be in the right grade levels, have accommodations for learning difficulties, and for them to feel valued and respected. It’s been a long road and I still have years ahead of me but I’ve learned so much!
3 Things I’ve learned about education choice
- Each child needs different things! – Education is not one size fits all and you will have to cater to each child’s education to their needs academically.
- You will fight harder than you think you should have to. – When it comes to educational options for your child, you will fight harder than you think for their good. With my daughter, I fought crazy hard for her dyslexia diagnosis. It was harder than I ever thought it could be.
- You know your child better than anyone. You may fight through some difficult things to get your child what they need. Keep in mind that you know your child better than anyone! If you believe a choice needs to be made for their education, fight for it. You can do this.
Strong emotions need boundaries
I come from a really difficult background. Neither of my parents really knew how to manage their emotions and because of that I never truly learned healthy ways to manage my own. This is part of why I was a terrible teen and made some horrible decisions. When I became a mom, I still hadn’t learned proper emotional boundaries. Because of that, I want the best mom I could be. I needed emotional boundaries.
So what are emotional boundaries? For me, there’s are the areas where I know I’m the weakest set under a clear boundary. For instance, I know I am strong-willed and have a temper. Because of this, I had to set a boundary with discipline and with how I addressed hard situations. I also struggle with insecurity because of my past. This means that I have to ask myself in a hard situation if I am looking at it from a real lens or a lens of insecurity.
These boundaries changed my parenting approach and freed me to focus on loving and raising the children in front of me with less fear. Notice I said less and not no fear. I’m pretty sure fear tries to be a mom’s constant companion. However will clear boundaries you get to decide how much those emotions control your day.
3 Things I’ve learned about emotional boundaries
- This will look different for each person. The boundaries you set will need to be different from mine because you won’t have the struggles I do.
- Sometimes you need an outside perspective. Setting boundaries is difficult. There are times when outside perspectives such as a counselor or a friend can help you to see you areas of weakness and how to set safe boundaries.
- Boundaries can change. Just because a boundary works now doesn’t mean it will work the same when your child is older. It’s completely ok to modify these boundaries as your season of life changes
Toxic people don’t have a right to my kids
There are some very toxic people in my family. Some of them are intentionally toxic. Others genuinely won’t control who or what they are. Either way, toxic people are part of my world. With kids people often tell you that you need to keep someone in your child’s life because they’re “family.” I had to learn early on that it doesn’t matter what the relationship is to the person, they don’t deserve access to my child.
If I am to really care for and protect my children, that includes protecting them from situations that would be detrimental to their physical or emotional health. So often we look at toxic people and think, “well they aren’t putting their hands on them so it’s ok.” Emotional trauma is just as significant as physical trauma and sometimes moreso because the scars go unseen. It’s incredibly important to protect children from the emotional trauma and sometimes that means making sure unhealthy and toxic people aren’t part of their lives.
I share a great deal about dealing with toxic family in my post on dealing with toxic family.
3 Things I’ve learned about toxic family
- You are not obligated to any relationship. So many moms feel like they are obligated to stay in relationship with someone toxic for them or their children. Don’t stay where it’s not healthy for you or your children.
- Walking away isn’t giving up on someone, it’s choosing someone. You are making a choice when you leave a toxic situation to choose yourself and your children instead of choosing a toxic person.
- The health of the children is always the priority. I say this in the blog post mentioned above but I’ll say it here too. If it were an abusive spouse, you would leave for the safety of the kids. This can’t be different from that. Protect your babies.
Some days I was a BAD mom
There were days when I felt like the best mom ever. However, there were days when I was a really really bad mom! I don’t mean that I dropped the ball. I failed. I just failed miserably and didn’t do what I needed to. You know what though. Mom fail days happen. There will be days when it just sucks and it doesn’t go to plan.
There will be days when you are not enough, never will be enough, and will struggle to even function. Guess what, that’s ok. It’s not meant to be your normal by any means but it is ok to not always have perfect days. In fact, it’s expected. Parenting is the only job where you are twenty four hours a day and seven days a week with your whole world on the line. You are bound to make mistakes.
I will say, it’s important to stay in a place of failure. If there are boundaries that need to be established, establish them. If there are apologies that need said, say them. BUT at the end of the day, take the loss. Admit the mistake. Then leave it there and start a new day. It can only make you a bad mom permanently if you don’t choose to change it.
3 Things I’ve learned about bad mom days
- Permanent failure is a choice. You will fail. You will mess up. It’s not permanent. You failed once. Don’t make failure a lifestyle.
- I’m not a bad mom. I had a bad mom day. This parenting journey is a really long one. It’s a life long journey. Because of that it’s comprised of MANY days. Don’t let the bad mom days cripple you.
- It all starts with forgiveness. It starts with apologizing to your kids but it also starts with apologizing to yourself. If you can’t forgive yourself you will stay stuck on the bad mom day. Forgive yourself and move forward.
No matter what mom choice you make, someone will judge
When you become a mom everyone has an opinion about the right ways for you to parent. This starts in pregnancy and continues for your entire parenting journey. The hard part comes when the opinions of other moms aren’t communicated in the kindest ways. Can I tell you a secret?
It won’t matter what choice you make. Someone will think you are doing it wrong. I’ve heard so many horrible things. How could you homeschool? You’ll run them. You spank? He’ll become violent. Everyone has an opinion. You let them cook? They’ll burn the house down.
However, those opinions only matter if you let them. When all is said and done you aren’t parenting their children. You’re parenting the children given to you! You are going to know more about their needs than someone else will. As I said earlier, you will make mistakes. We all do. But you were made to parent their child.
People will judge no matter what. Make the choice you can live with.
3 tips for ignoring the drama mommas.
- Remember that they aren’t parenting your kid. People mean well. They do. But at the end of the day, they aren’t parenting your child. Keep in mind that they have a very different child than you.
- Know your why. Why do you do things the way you do? You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. However, sometimes it’s nice to have a clear answer in your own kind so that you can ignore the drama.
- Tell people to hush. People sometimes just need to hear that while you appreciate them, you’ve heard enough. It’s ok to tell someone to stop. Speak up for your well being.
It’s ok not to hustle
Parenting can be expensive and it can be tempting to hustle like crazy. Moms are often pushed to be the one to hustle and bring in extra money. It’s almost as if the world wants moms to be “more” than a mom in some way. I spoke a lot about this in my post on mom hustling but I wanted to share a few more tips here with you.
I think that there is a pressure that isn’t healthy for the non-hustling mom to be more. Guess what, you don’t have to be more than a mom. You don’t have to start your own business, build your own social strategy, or do any of the other things. You may have to work. I’m not saying you won’t have to work outside the home. All I’m saying is that the hustle isn’t mandatory.
Are you made for the hustle? That’s ok too. It’s completely ok to hustle if that’s your dream.
3 Tips for the Mom who doesn’t want the hustle
- Know your limits. It can be so hard to say no to things sometimes. Know your limits so that you know when to say no.
- Kick insecurity to the curb. Are you considering the hustle because of mom insecurity? You don’t have to report to anyone or be enough for anyone. Don’t let insecurity convince you to do things you don’t need to for your family.
- Say no! No really, say no to things that don’t bring you joy or help you achieve your dreams. It can feel so hard to say no. It doesn’t have to though. You have everything you need to own what consumes your time and energy.
It’s ok to be honest with kids about big issues
The world we are living in now has some serious issues going on. Things like drugs, suicide, sex, tragedy, grief, and so much more are hard for a parent to discuss. However, it’s not impossible. Talking about big issues with kids is so important. I often say that it is more important to lead the conversation than provide correction for what their peers teach them.
There is such a fine line between discussing things and oversharing. I highly recommend not letting the fear of the awkward conversations keep you from having them. It can start young with some of these conversations. You don’t have to start by talking about drugs. You can talk about the importance of what your kids put in their body with their health and not taking medicine without permission.
Instead of holding a conversation about sex, start with discussing healthy boundaries. Things like letting kids know that they don’t have to be touched if they don’t want to will set up future conversations. One of the most important things you will ever do is to start an uncomfortable conversation with your kids for the sake of teaching them the right things.
3 Tips for talking about big issues
- Let their questions lead the way. Sometimes letting a child ask you questions can help you to see where they are at.
- Don’t over answer. Sometimes kids aren’t asking as much as you think. Instead, they may just want to know if babies come from tummies or storks. Keep it simple and let them lead the conversation.
- Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know. It’s ok to not know things. I don’t know can be a great answer to some questions. Telling your child you don’t know but you will find the answer shows that you aren’t perfect but you will do what you need to get them the answers they need.