WHO’S A BETTER MOM?: 5 Tips to Help You Stop Judging Yourself So You Can Step Into Your Own Mom-Greatness
Posted Jul 21 2011 8:03am
Who’s the best mom? Does she stay home with her kids or work out in the world? Does she bake cookies or buy tofu? Does she have a perfectly clean house and all her photos in albums? Or is her house kind of messy, covered with art projects and other evidence of her childrens’ creativity? Does the “best” mom protect her children from being bullied? Or from being a bully? From eating the wrong foods? Or from gaining weight or hating her body?
Is she a better mom than you?
Secretly, most moms wonder if they measure up.
If they are doing a “good enough” job. If they are hurting or helping their kids. Most moms spend a lot of energy and effort trying to be “better” moms and end up feeling guilty anyway. (Anything goes wrong with my child, it MUST be my fault somehow).
What’s up with this? (That GUILT thing)
With hundreds (maybe thousands) of parenting books on the market, a culture of “mother blaming” (yes, it’s true, our culture – even fellow moms – still looks to Mom when things go wrong), and our own inborn maternal desire to protect and care for our children, most of us moms hold on to a deep belief that if we become PERFECT mothers, we can protect our children from heartache, difficulties and struggle. We can control what happens in their life (and ours). (And we can somehow make up for the “mistakes” in our own childhood).
NEWSFLASH: No matter how hard you strive, how clean your house is, how healthy their lunch box is, how many books you read, your children’s lives are their own. And all that striving and trying and guilt…well, it’s likely it’s making you very very tired.
Yes, you can support your children and love them and guide them. And that accounts for a whole lot. But ultimately, they will be who they will be, and their journey will be theirs to navigate. Running around and spinning yourself in circles to try try to try to be a “better” mom may not be serving either you or them.
So if feeling guilty, trying harder and feeling tired and frustrated doesn’t work, what does?
1) Accept, once and for all, that there is no perfect mom (Your neighbor, your best friend, and even the mom who is working hard to LOOK like she’s perfect…NOT). Kids don’t need a perfect mom (it just puts pressure on them to be perfect kids, which is NOT FUN. Trust me. I tried and it worked ’til it all broke down my junior year in high school. “Perfect girls” are more likely to struggle with depression, eating disorders and self-esteem issues).
2) Your children’s lives are their own. Love them for who THEY are, not who you’d like them to be. This can be hard. (It about killed me when my son preferred to play alone in preschool. Not social? How could that be? Turns out, his social needs are quite different than mine). Better get used to it so I can support him in getting HIS needs met (not mine).
3) Be happy. Seriously. Find YOUR bliss, instead of just basking in your childrens’ glory. THIS will do wonders for your children. Children need parents who have a life that they love. Who have a full life that is more than being a parent. Not only do they learn from this (we all want our daughters to see that life as a woman is FUN, not burdensome), but it relieves them of a whole lot of pressure to have to “be” something FOR us.
4) If there is something that worries you or bothers your or is stressing you out about your child, take a look in the mirror FIRST. If something in your child is triggering something in you, it’s imperative that you work on your “stuff” around this issue so you can more clearly and fully support her. (This happens a lot with eating and body image issues).
5) Take AMAZINGLY great care of yourself. Fill yourself up. Make sure you are well-nourished. I know that the airplane metaphor is overused (“put on your oxygen mask before putting on your child’s”), but this is the bottom line: You can not be fully present for anyone if you are not well-cared-for yourself. I know, what with the carpools and meetings and well-balanced meals, there’s no time, but truly, this may be your most important job of all as a parent.
I would looooooove to hear what you wanted from your Mom and what you do, now, as a Mom to feel good, both about yourself and your parenting! Please share your thoughts – the more we moms talk about this, the more we can create real change together!