Warning: This post might get long, but stick with me. You might find the encouragement you’ve been looking for. 🙂
Early in my adult life, I had dreams of what it would be like to be a mom. I envisioned forts in the living room, family homeschooling field trips, a house without a TV, and happy children. I envisioned close relationships with my kids, listening to their every dream and enjoying watching them grow.
I also knew everything I didn’t want to be as a mom. I didn’t want to be an inattentive, distant mom. I didn’t want to be a mom who yelled or got angry or wanted a break from the stress of it all.
I really just wanted to make my kids the top priority so they knew just how much I loved them.
But early motherhood was far from what I had envisioned. More specifically, I wasn’t the mother I expected myself to be.
Shortly into motherhood, the demands of it became very apparent. Before we realized that my son had special needs, I didn’t understand why I seemed SO much more stressed out than the other moms around me.
His ADHD made simple tasks SO hard. Going to the grocery store was absolutely draining because of my son’s inability to control his impulses. Going to the park required excessive supervision and constant engagement just to keep him safe.
I spent a lot of time trying to keep my son contained for his own safety and a lot more time pretending to ignore the staring and judgmental comments from other moms.
The worst of it was admitting to myself that I really wasn’t enjoying motherhood. Don’t get me wrong. My children are my world! I absolutely adore them! But I didn’t adore myself — or even like myself — as a mom.
I felt exhausted, frustrated, lost, and empty.
It wasn’t until a friend of a friend offered up some very kind and graceful words that I was able to really step back and take a good look at my life as a mom. She let me know that it was okay to take care of me.
It sounds simple, I know. But for some reason, I needed to hear that. I had spent so much of my life as a mother emptying myself for my kids because I thought that’s what would make me a good mom.
Boy was I wrong.
After some deep soul searching and a LOT of prayer, I realized something. One empty vessel can’t fill another. How on Earth am I going to be the kind of mom my kids need if I have nothing left to give? I can’t pour anything into their lives if I’m empty. I can’t invest in their childhood if I’m physically and emotionally bankrupt.
Not only that, but I had spent so much time being frustrated that I wasn’t the kind of mom I wanted to be that I really didn’t know what kind of mom they actually needed.
It took some time to let go of my own expectations of motherhood and really embrace my unique circumstances and strengths as a mom, but when I did, things dramatically changed. I started to enjoy my life AS IT IS, not how I wish it would be. That is a HUGE game-changer.
Here are a few things that helped me be okay with the mom I am:
1. I stopped looking at all the ways I think I failed and started looking at the ways I have succeeded.
I have always felt SO bad for not having the energy to really engage my kids in the family activities I had envisioned for so many years — like family science projects and exciting adventures outdoors. Half of them my son simply couldn’t handle.
But you know what I’m really good at? Snuggling. For real. I LOVE to snuggle with my babies. And guess what? My kids are SUPER snugglers. I could snuggle with them every day all day and never get tired of it.
I’m also good at family parties — a sweet little tradition where I make platters of fun snack foods that we all love and picnic on the living room floor, watching a family movie.
These are the kinds of memories that I was made to make with my kids. And you know what? I’m pretty darn good at it.
2. I stopped comparing my worst days to someone else’s best.
There’s nothing more damaging to your self-confidence and self-acceptance than to compare yourself with someone else. Seriously. This has been one of my greatest struggles, and I know I’m not alone.
Comparison is a form of self-sabotage. It takes the unique things about you as a mom (or a person!) and distorts them into something else.
Bottom line, we weren’t made to be someone else. More importantly, our kids weren’t meant to have another mom. We were made for each other — literally!
Discovering and excelling at our own natural strengths ensures we are exactly the mom they were meant to have — and the person we were meant to be.
3. I stopped striving for the ideal and started loving my imperfect life.
Life is fleeting. I don’t want to waste another minute window-shopping other people’s lives and missing out on my own. I have great kids, a great husband, and a safe place to live. Chances are, you have some pretty great things going for you, too!
Don’t lose the diamond under the dust. Give it some care, and let it shine like it was meant to!
4. I learned how to laugh at myself …
… because life is too short to spend it frustrated and disappointed. Holding on to my disappointments doesn’t make me better, it makes me bitter.
It takes far more energy to hold a grudge against yourself than it does to give yourself grace. Laugh at yourself when you make a mistake. Learn from it. Grow. Then, move on. Spending less time living in frustration can free us up to spend more time enjoying motherhood and the metamorphosis that happens as we grow through the journey.
So what do you think? Have you been unknowingly sabotaging yourself as a mom? What helps you get out of the cycle of guilt, frustration, and disappointment? Comment below to share with other moms! Can’t wait to hear from you!
42 thoughts on “OMG #3: Being Okay With the Mom You Are (How I Overcame Disappointing Myself)”
Great post with really important content! I fell victim to the same thing for the first couple years of motherhood, I gave every ounce of every second and didn’t think it was ok to take care of me. I just launched my own blog at http://www.vigoritout.com last week and was sure to include some great mom self-care posts too! It’s so important to really being able to be the mom you want to be for your kiddos. Thanks for writing this for all the moms out there!
I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Allie! 🙂 Congratulations on launching your new blog! Sounds like it will be an amazing resource for moms. 🙂
Thank you for putting this out there. Thank you for your encouraging words. Being a SAHM is by far the hardest job I have ever had. And your situation with keeping your child in because of the ADHD is hard. I have a daughter the same way. Grace is all we have and it definitely makes my days so much easier and just by saying out loud Yes Lord Yes Lord really helps me from meltdowns too! Take care and God Bless
I LOVE your advice here, Nicole. “YES, Lord!” What a great way to recalibrate your heart and mind through a stressful day with a special-needs child (or any kind of stress for that matter!). Thank you for sharing! 🙂
Scrolling Pintrest like I normally do when I feel like I’m failing & need an outlet. So glad this article was on my feed today. As I read I felt as if you took the word out of my head, & had somehow walked in my shoes. My husband & I were in denial when our son was diagnosed with ADHD. I felt like the behaviors associated with ADHD took away from me & my family. I became a SAHM to give my son more of myself, I had a 2 yr old & found out I was pregnant with our 3rd. Oh yeah I totally thought being a SAHM was going to be a breeze too. No one warned me!!! Lol. I felt like a failure so many times & was even suicidal at one point. It’s been so tough all the years my son has been in school(headed to 4th grade).My Faith had carried me, but I was only experiencing one side & was blind to Grace. Grace has been helping me so much now, but I still catch myself going back to my default setting from time to time. Thank-you so much for posting & helping free others. May God Bless you
Thank you SO much for sharing your experience and your thoughts, Derreille! Being a SAHM is so hard. There is no escape, and there is very little downtime. If it weren’t for Grace, Lord knows where we’d be. I am so honored to be able to encourage you today. Keep up the good work, friend! You’re doing a fantastic job. <3
I am a mum of three kids, the oldest who is 6 and a half has a maybe ADHD diagnosis but also has global developmental delay and a chromosome duplication that has caused learning difficulties, this post almost describes me, who is doing it as a single mum, life is hard but we keep plugging along, thanks for the encouragement. Hope all is well with you now.
Let me just say how AMAZING you are, Catherine! Being a parent of a special-needs child is hard enough. Doing it as a single parent is a whole different level. You’re an inspiration! I’m honored to be able to encourage you in motherhood, friend. Keep up the good work! <3
I am a mum of three kids, the oldest who is 6 and a half has a maybe ADHD diagnosis but also has global developmental delay and a chromosome duplication that has caused learning difficulties, this post almost describes me, who is doing it as a single mum, life is hard but we keep plugging along, thanks for the encouragement.
I love this article! The header caught my attention. I’m learning to be ok and enjoy where we are instead of trying so hard to have great moments. I do have a pretty amazing life, I need to show my daughters that I too am enjoying it.
I LOVE this, Natalie! Showing our kiddos that we do, in fact, enjoy our lives even though it’s hard is such a great reminder for me! Thank you for your thoughts. So encouraging!
All the amens to this post! I too have been working on self care and extending grace to myself, and it has made me a better mom. I am learning to let go of unrealistic expectations that I had put on myself and learning to accept who I am and where I am at.
So glad to hear that I could encourage you in your journey toward grace today, Amanda!:-)
Your post is exactly what I wanted to post. So thankful I read this article.
I’m so glad I could encourage you with my post, Derreille! 🙂
I definitely needed this. I struggle all too often feeling like a failure. I often find myself even comparing myself to myself years back when I was a single mom of a son with ADHD trying to get away from my ex, working 2 jobs and going to school! How did I do it and still have energy and time. Now 3 kids, a husband, animals, house 3 jobs, I feel constantly tired and like I’m failing… Im really going to work on not comparing myself to myself or others and the remembering what I am really good at…like snuggles, lol..thank you… I will keep trying
Bless you, friend. OF COURSE you’re tired!! That’s a LOT for anyone. Momma, we all have times when we fail. Expecting yourself not to fail is like expecting your kids not to. Failure is part of learning. Give yourself the grace you would give others. Praying that you get some good snuggles in today and that you remember that you’re really good at some of the most important things, like loving your children. 😉
This is beautiful and very well thought out. If more women would read things like this earlier on in motherhood it wouldn’t be so rough or feel like you’re alone. Love it! Sharing. 🙂
I’m SO glad to hear you liked the post. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and share! 🙂
So true, I wish I had this 10 years ago. I love your comment.
Thank you. I really needed that.
So glad I could encourage you today, Alicia. 🙂
Wonderful post. I’m a step mother (and mother), and find myself “comparing my worst days to someone else’s best” more often than I’d like to admit. :-/ It has actually only been *since* becoming a biological mother that I’ve really realized what I was doing. The advice kind of works in reverse in my stepson’s case, but I wasn’t meant to be his mother – I was meant to be his step mother – and it’s just as important for me to be *me* for him in that capacity as it is for me to be *me* for my daughter.
I LOVE your perspective on this, Hellen! What a beautiful take-away for your unique circumstances. Thanks so much for sharing!
I’m trying… I wish I was succeeding!
It is a daily walk, CD. Moment by moment, day by day. Praying for strength and courage for you as you press on! I know, for me, I have to remind myself sometimes that the only thing that defines me is the boundless love God has for me. It’s not my insufficiencies or my failures. It’s not my missed expectations. It’s His love alone. <3
aaaand *exhale*! This is something I needed to read today, thank you. I wrote an enormous to-do list and then threw my back out and spent half the day kicking myself. I need to take care of myself! I can do what I can do and not feel guilty if all it is today is frozen pizza and floor snuggles.
Bless you, mama! I totally know what those days feel like. I hope you feel better soon! Give yourself lots of grace. We all have days where frozen pizza and floor snuggles are the best we can offer. And you know what? They ARE the best. Those are the memories our family will hold on to. Life is messy, hard, and real. It’s made up of lots of frozen pizza and floor snuggles. 🙂 Wishing you the best!!
Katie, it was like you were describing me! My son has ADHD, and I call it the “silent” special need. . People assume his actions are a result of behavior or lack of discipline when it is a symptom of a physical issue. It is heartbreaking and challenging to see him struggle, but when he succeeds it is the best feeling ever! As a mom I constantly feel like I am running on empty and that there is “not enough of me” to go around. . .trying to be mom to two kids, wife, housekeeper, Girl Scout leader, etc etc and work as a nurse. . Whew! No wonder I’m tired! Thank you for this article. . It helps to know I am not alone in the Mommy Guilt!
Dayna, you are SO not alone! I seriously understand how you feel all the way around. It is exhausting in every sense of the word. So glad you found MiM! At least now you know that there is at least one mama out there who can relate and who is cheering you on! <3
I felt as if you were writing about me. My family is my world I adore my kids but my son also has ADHD and I felt so stressed and overwhelmed and judged by the little things my son would do. I actually lost my best friend because she couldn’t accept my son (who is a pretty stinkin good kid) but I have always accepted her daughter (whom also had some special needs). I could feel my frustration build with all the demands on my time. I was turning into an angry mom and I so didn’t want that. I also have a bad history with my mom and was terrified to turn into her. Thank you!!! Loved this read!
Elizabeth, I SOOOOO relate to you and where you’re at! Unless you have a child with special needs, it is really difficult to understand the pressure and isolation that comes along with navigating motherhood under those circumstances. It can strain relationships and the way you value yourself. Just know that if you love your son, you are an excellent mother. You’re not alone in the struggle, mama. SO glad to have you here at MiM. 🙂
This is such a great post Katie, even though I am not a mom yet I can relate to the fact that you always compare yourself to someone else and how much it doesn’t help you. I did the same right after I got married, I had a vision of what type of wife I wanted to be and I always compared myself to other wives. I was so disappointed in myself, I cried and prayed a lot until I realized that I just had to let go of the perfect picture and just be myself. Everything changed after that. So what if I am not the best cook or I am impatient. Life is too short and God didn’t give us this life to be disappointed.
You’re totally right, Sabrina! Whether it’s in motherhood or simply in life, God didn’t make us to be somebody else. Discovering our own unique strengths and giving ourselves grace in the things we, erm, aren’t so strong in really helps us to grow and enjoy where we are right now. Thank you for sharing your perspective! 🙂
You really hit it out of the park with this post. Until just recently I felt like a failure as a mom because I wasn’t the kind of mom that my mom was to me. My mom always made home cooked meals for us. The house was always spotless. That is how I envisioned myself as a mom. There were many attributes that I felt I really fell short on. Then I realized that I am living a completely different life than my mother did. Her circumstances were very different than they are now for me as a mom. She was a stay-at-home mom and I work full time. I am also a completely different and unique person. Me trying to replicate exactly what and who my mom was would always lead to some level of failure in my eyes. So realizing this, I decided to let those feelings of expectation go and be the best mom that I could be. I kept some attributes from my mom and learned to love those that I, myself, brought to the table as mom. This way I feel my daughter will have the best of both worlds and I am free from trying to be someone that I am not.
Thank you SO much for your comment, Irma! I really, really relate to your tendency to compare yourself to your mom. My mom was a single mom who seemed to perfect the art of juggling life. That’s so NOT me. lol I’m lucky if I can keep the kitchen clean for more than two hours. 😉 I’m so happy to hear that you’ve decided to focus on being the mom you are meant to be. Motherhood is hard enough without comparing ourselves to our own moms — or any other mom for that matter. Good for you! 🙂
Such a great post, Katie! “Comparison is a form of self-sabotage.” So true! It keeps us from enjoying the life we have and robs our kids of the happy, PRESENT mom they need. One of my favorite bloggers, Crystal Paine, wrote a post on this topic yesterday (“Love the Life You Actually Have Instead of Wishing for the Life She Has” at http://bit.ly/29mNtnH).
I know I’m guilty of wishing for tomorrow, for next month, for when I’m settled in my new house, when the credit card bill is paid off, etc., always looking forward instead of focusing on the here and now. The fact is tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for any of us, and we need to be content with the life we have. And that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still strive to better ourselves, it just means we need to make sure to enjoy the journey. 🙂
Exactly, Erin! Couldn’t agree more. 🙂 And I LOVE Crystal Paine! I was super stoked to be able to tune into her live on Facebook yesterday — an unexpected treat! A lot of what she had to say resonated with me and definitely fit well with this post. 🙂
As a mother of a two-year-old, I still struggle with this and feel guilty for even the want of “me” time. I know it’s necessary, but it is a learning process. Being an older mom sometimes invites the guilt even more because I feel like, wait, I had almost 40 years of “me” time. Ugh. Still a struggle but I’ll get there.
I firmly believe that no matter how long a mom waits to have her babies, being a mom is hard!! “Me” time is essential to remaining a healthy and balanced mom. The best thing about “me” time is that it really benefits our kiddos in the long run. A rested, rejuvenated mom is a mom that’s ready for anything — especially rambunctious two-year-olds! 😉
This is fantastic. I think that the mom world, now days, is so competitive. There are so many moms out there that want to seem as if they are the perfect mom which leaves all of us other moms even more discouraged! When we stop comparing ourselves to other moms and realize that we are exactly who God intended us to be, we will find more joy and happiness then striving for that image of perfection will ever provide!
I completely agree, Amanda! I have definitely found that to be true in my own life. 🙂