I went into motherhood with a heart full of idealism and crushing expectations (on myself). Almost immediately the mom guilt came in. First in whispers, then in overwhelming obsessive thoughts. You should love breastfeeding, good moms LOVE breastfeeding; they don’t count the days until it’s over. Why aren’t you cleaner and more organized? You should really be making your own baby food. Why don’t you know how to make your baby stop crying? You should know how to comfort him. Why don’t you want to do more “face time” with your baby? Good moms don’t get bored of playing with their kids. Why haven’t you finished those parenting books? YOU HAVEN’T TAKEN YOU THREE YEAR OLD TO THE DENTIST YET?? Why are you so overwhelmed? You don’t have anything to be overwhelmed about. You should have started that money management envelope system YESTERDAY. Look you made him cry; why are you so impatient? You shouldn’t feel mad, good moms don’t feel angry inside. Who gets angry at a kid? You look like a slob; wash your face forgodsakes. Pizza three times this week?? What are you trying to do, poison your kids?
The noise you guys. The noise is too flipping much.
The more I parent, the more I realize that mom guilt is a bully and a liar.
Our kids aren’t going to have a perfect Mama; they’re not. And they’re going to be okay. No one in the history of the world has had one. You didn’t have one, I didn’t have one, and we are okay. Sure we need therapy, we all have issues, we spend our lives becoming more and more “free and whole”, but that’s a part of being human. Maybe it’s actually a beautiful part of being human.
So instead of perfect, I decided to apologize often and sincerely. I have said all these to things to my kids in some shape or form:
I’m sorry I struggle with anxiety. I know it isn’t my fault and that it’s not something I’m “choosing”, but it’s a sickness and it affects you too. It affects you when I make decisions out of it instead of making decisions out of peace. It affects you when my fear overflows onto you instead of my peace making you feel safe.
I’m sorry I got mad at you when I was stressed about things that had nothing to do with you. It wasn’t your fault and I shouldn’t have done that.
I’m sorry that in the heat of the moment I didn’t really listen to what you had to say. I jumped to conclusions and let my annoyance guide me instead of stopping and taking my time. I will work on that.
I’m sorry for rage cleaning and flying through our house like a angry tornado instead of being okay with the mess.
I’m sorry for not always being gracious and kind. Kindness and love are things that I want to impart to you as a mother, but sometimes I don’t lead by example. Sometimes I’m impatient and harsh. Will you forgive me?
I’m sorry for all the things I miss. I know I’m going to miss a lot. Maybe it’s a food allergy I didn’t know you had, maybe it’s that we were too busy and you needed to slow down. Maybe I said the wrong thing to you one time and it stuck with you and jabbed a sore spot in your heart. I KNOW I’M GOING TO SCREW UP. I am 100% sure I’m going to (and already have) screwed up. Listen to me: THAT IS NOT ON YOU. My mistakes are not your fault.
ZERO OF MY MISTAKES ARE YOUR FAULT.
Please kids, if you could give me anything, give me your honesty. Don’t be afraid of hurting my feelings or making me upset (I’ll be okay). Tell me when I screw up so I can make it right. I don’t have perfection, but I do have the ability to ask your forgiveness. I do have the ability to let you know that it wasn’t right the way I did that and I will work on it.
If I could ask for one thing out of this mothering gig; if there is something I dream of you saying when all is said and done, it would be this: “She always made sure to stay connected to our hearts, and we always knew she loved us”.
And it would be, “She wasn’t afraid of her mistakes and she wasn’t afraid of ours either.”
My heart, my broken in pieces heart, is yours, now and forever and ever.
And to the Mamas who are reading this and who choose saying sorry over perfection, I’m with you. We are just exactly who our kids need. We never needed to be perfect in the first place.