I want to write this to convince every single mother to give themselves a damn break. You are up at the crack of dawn every day, even on weekends, after getting hardly any sleep.
You get up, change kids into clothes/out of diapers, make breakfast, brush hair and teeth, shuffle everyone out the door to school or yourself to work, and that’s only the first two hours of your day.
Whether you are a stay at home mom, working mom(outside or inside of the home), etc. but the point is that you are always busy doing something.
Putting yourself and your human needs on the back burner because you are too busy trying to keep your children alive and healthy, and remembering a million different things for each family member.
Seriously, get a huge piece of paper, like poster board size. Then make a list of everything you do/remember/cook/wipe ALL DAY from wake up time to the minute you fall asleep. Do it, this will be good for you. There are SO MANY THINGS on that freaking list, aren’t there?!
The point is that you are in a go-go-go mindset all day, and it doesn’t stop there.
When you FINALLY get your kids to bed and finish all of the cleaning and laundry and lunch packing and shower the snot and applesauce out of your hair, you’re left with a wandering mind.
I used to think it was just me, but recently as I’ve followed some honest, raw mom blogs and been more open with close friends of mine, it seems like its a common nightly occurrence.
You get into bed and lay down after a LONG, exhausting day, finally able to get some sleep, when your brain and emotions suddenly start attacking you… leaving you with massive amounts of guilt.
Guilt for the times you yelled, for forgetting to pack your child’s show-and-tell toy, for not feeding them healthy enough snacks or for allowing too much TV time, for not handling a tantrum in the way that you should have.
You start wishing for a do-over of the day or at least those moments, but since you know that that is not possible, you promise to do better tomorrow.
You promise not to yell, to only feed them fruits and vegetables, and to not allow more than 15 minutes of screen time.
You promise to have massive (non-human and also impossible) amounts of patience, to stay off of your phone the entire day, and to be the perfect mother.
Maybe you even google how to better handle tantrums, and sugar-free, organic recipes. But the next day, you’re tired again.
You didn’t sleep due to mom-guilt syndrome. There isn’t enough caffiene in the world to jump start you into being the most patient, role-model worthy mother on the planet.
It is an ENDLESS cycle of doing your best, then feeling guilty for all of the moments and situations where you fell short. This cycle will never stop until you stop it. And you CAN stop it. All you need to do is realize a few simple truths.
You will not love every moment of motherhood.
This is fact. You love motherhood, and you love your children OF COURSE. You’ll never not love them, even in the most difficult times.
But there will be moments of motherhood where you don’t feel in love with it. I’ll use ice cream as an example.
You can LOVE ice cream, but I doubt that you love having a brain freeze. This is normal, and does not make you a bad mother. It’s not something to feel guilty about.
You have never parented this child on this exact day at this exact moment before.
And even if you had, kids are unpredictable. They can be the happiest kid in the world one minute, and throwing a screaming, wailing tantrum on the floor the next.
You never know what to expect or how to prepare for the hours to come.
Your kids are learning, changing, and growing constantly. And guess what? So are you.
No one has this parenting thing down completely, and none of us has all the answers. The moms who look like they have it all together, are going through their own storms, just like you.
You can’t expect more from yourself than doing your best in the moment that you’re in.
And your best will not be perfect, so don’t expect it to be. Again, not something to feel guilty about.
Your kids are likely going to remember all of the amazing times they have had with you.
They are going to remember how fiercely you have always loved them. How hard you worked to provide everything they needed, as well as wanted.
They are going to remember the awesome birthday parties you threw for them, the spontaneous breakfast outings, the nights that you ordered delivery and watched 2 movies in a row.
The lazy days when you guys stayed home in bed, watching cartoons and snuggling.
They are going to remember the hikes you took, that one summer when you took them to amusement parks a dozen times, and all of the pool days.
Big things and little things… they remember everything that brought them so much joy and made them feel loved.
No one has a perfect childhood, but when I look back on mine, the most significant memories that come to my mind are the simple, happy ones.
I remember going to Sam’s Club on Saturdays with my dad and my brother to grocery shop, eat samples, and giant pizza slices.
I remember the nights where the sky was dark and full of stars, and my mom and I would look for the brightest one to call our “Special Star”. And I searched for the special star on the nights that I was at my dads, and missed my mom.
I can remember times when I was a little bit older that I knew there was something stressful going on in their lives, but those memories do not stick out to me as much as all of the amazing ones do.
And I think that is pretty standard for many of us.
Your children are going to remember all of the good times.
They will probably never know that the takeout/movie nights were because you had a really hard week, and you were stressed out, or that the lazy days spent in bed were because you were dealing with too many emotions that day to go out and face the world.
You are only human, and as long as you are doing your best every day, you are the perfect mother for your child, and you should rest easily every night knowing that they will remember your fierce, everlasting love for them, and all of the ways that you showed it.
So stop bullying yourself. Reflection is a great thing.
It is healthy for us to look back on situations and consider alternative ways to have better handled them.
But the obsessive guilting and tormenting yourself over small mistakes that are often out of your control, is not healthy.
It will quickly convince you that you are a bad mom, when you are most likely an AMAZING mother.
If you love your children endlessly, take good care of them, and do your best every day, you are winning as a mother.
Let yourself grow and learn.
Your children teach you as much as you teach them, if not more.
They will teach you about patience and forgiveness, the best ways to love and discipline them, the importance of grace, and the value of time and presence.
Give yourself a break, and allow yourself to make and learn from mistakes.
And GET SOME FREAKING SLEEP. Staying up feeling guilty all night can not turn back time… it just makes it harder for you to feel well-rested and conquer the next day. You are doing great. Deep breaths.
This post originally appeared on Mighty Mamahood