Instead of teaching about the lifespan of sperm, the pros of breastfeeding and the chromosomes that determine a boy or a girl, they should have taught you that the hardest thing about the whole baby journey is the judgement you’ll receive.
We’re constantly bombarded with images of perfect, smiling, skinny moms balancing a baby on their hip and helping their older child make panacotta in an immaculate kitchen. Instagram can be the worst, and I must constantly remind myself that that world isn’t always real. We can’t help but make comparisons and view others in a bad way if they make choices that are not the same as ours. I remember, before kids, being that person who said she’d never let her kids watch TV….yes, let’s all have a proper belly laugh at that.
Now, as a mum, I’m seeing that often the biggest critic is ourselves. We are so good at picking apart our parenting, questioning our own decisions and comparing ourselves to everyone around us. I remember in the first few months of my daughter’s birth wondering if I was indeed doing it as well as everyone else; was I using the right baby carrier, should I be expressing more, should I try a dummy…why do we do this to ourselves?
Wouldn’t it be just lovely to do your parenting dues and see yourself as a total badass all the time? If you’re struggling with the whole “perfect mom” image, here’s 5 ways we can all try and give ourselves some much need slack:
- Forgive yourself. This is a toughie. I can still remember every single time I’ve lost my cool with my daughter and replay the events over and over in my head wondering if she’s going to be scarred for life. I can’t get that time back, but I can stop myself from ruining future moments by constantly dragging myself through the dirt. Be the cheerleader of your parenting journey, not the heckler.
- Recognize your strengths and celebrate them. Finding the positives about our personalities and skills is often so difficult when we’ve wired ourselves to look for weak points. However, often our weak points are strengths in disguise, we’re just looking at them the wrong way. For example, I often get told I’m too headstrong, and for a long time I viewed this as a fault, not recognizing that fierce determination can be a great trait when channelled right. Similarly, if you think you’re too emotional, just remember that being in touch with your feelings and having an empathic spirit is a beautiful attribute to possess.
- Hug your children. It’s incredible how so much fear and anxiety can be swiftly removed when your arms are wrapped around the little being that you have made or adopted. In their arms, you are not Jessica the financial manager, Lisa the photographer or Nina the stay-at-home-mom…you are just “mom”. You are the shelter, the protector, the resting place when the world is too loud or too scary. You apply the magic kiss to every scratch and bump and it will be their time with you that they remember, not the way you felt.
- Don’t compare, you’re not an insurance policy. You know those irritating adverts for websites that allow you to weigh up the pros and cons and prices of different insurance companies, or car dealers? Yes, well, you are not one of those companies. So what if Cathy just made a week’s worth of vegan packed lunches for her kids and you just about found the energy to throw in a banana, you are a legend in your own right. It doesn’t matter if one mom got her kid sleeping through the night from 6 weeks old and at 6 years, your kid still shares your bed – go easy on yourself!
- Take care of yourself. The rise of the “self-care” mentality couldn’t have come at a better time, a time when most of us are so burnt out on trying to run the perfect life that we don’t realize that we ran out of fuel months ago. Whilst some might advocate that shopping and spa treatments constitute as self-care, I think it’s important to move away from the “spending money is relaxing” ideology and focus on taking moments to go to the loo on your own. I know, how crazy is it that having a wee in peace constitutes as self-care in my book? What I mean, is that it doesn’t have to be grand gestures that you can’t commit to every week because of money and time. Just being able to read a magazine with a hot cup of tea is a loving “me” moment. It doesn’t have to be for long either, even just having 10 minutes of quiet time to be able to brush your hair could be the time your soul needs to rejuvenate.
You can find more of Shante’s beautiful writing over on her blog Rose and Thorns