When You Feel Like You're Failing as a Mom
We had one of those weeks this week. Between sickness and the boredom of being stuck in our house with Canadian wintery weather, my kids have been miserable. Crying, coughing, whining, sneezing, tantrums and more crying have been the hallmarks of the last several days. I’d like to say I handled it like a champ - that we snuggled in bed with books while healing essential oils were diffused and that we ate homemade chicken noodle soup for lunch. I’d like to say that I met their cries with compassion every time and patiently accepted their grumpiness and loved their grouchiness away.
But that didn’t happen. As the days dragged on, my patience wore increasingly thin. Our 5 month old baby Aislynn fussed and cried unless she was being held and our toddler Jackson was being equally clingy and would lose his gourd if I had to get up and walk away from him to get the phone or go to the bathroom. Finally, during one particularly trying hour, I broke. Aislynn had started screaming at an alarming decibel when I put her in her bouncy seat to try and start some dinner. Jackson then joined in with whines that escalated to high pitched cries. Just for good measure, the dog added his howls to the general din of chaos that was flooding my kitchen. I sat down on the kitchen floor and cried. I knew it wouldn’t help. But my tired brain couldn’t take it anymore.
This incident was followed by several days of yelling at my toddler more than I’d care to admit and uselessly begging my baby to stop crying when I put her down. At one point, in a state of total exasperation, I yelled at my toddler that I’d give him one million dollars if he played with his toys and stopped whining at me for five blessed minutes. This was of course fruitless and he continued to cry and beg to be picked up while I tried to get some dinner together.
So. There’s my dirty laundry. Proof positive that I haven’t been the patient and loving mom that I aspire to be. These failures and less than perfect moments make me feel like I’m doing a terrible job being a mom. I feel like I’m not the mom my kids deserve. Looking back, I feel like the entire week could be hashtagged #momfail
I know I’m not alone. Every friend I talked to this week had stories of lost tempers, yelling and feelings of failure.
Mommies out there reading this - you are not alone. You are not a failure. And you are enough. Your kids would not be better off with the moms we see on Instagram and Pinterest who look like they have never had to raise their voice to their kids.
Any mom who is doing her best and loving her babies in spite of being overwhelmed and on the edge of her sanity is not failing. I know it’s hard to believe, especially when you’ve just lost it on your kids again and you haven’t washed your sheets in three weeks and Netflix has become your afternoon slump babysitter.
Is screaming at our kids the healthiest and most effective way of dealing with them? Probably not. We should aim for patience and kindness in dealing with our children, including times when discipline is needed. But the perfect mother has never lived and never will, so sometimes we are going to lose our tempers. You may have lost your temper several times today. That doesn’t make you a failure or the worst mother ever. It makes you human.
Mama friend, you’ve got this. You’re doing amazing. You’re keeping your children fed, clean and loved. Even when that means takeout, wash cloth baths and a snuggle on the couch while watching Paw Patrol. And like your mom has probably told you countless times in your life, this too shall pass. One of those sun soaked days of giggling and playing in the park is coming. The Pinterest days of baking together and seeing little smiles smeared with chocolate are coming. Not every day will be this hard.
When the tough days do come, here are the things that help get me through with some sanity still intact.
1. Be honest about how you’re doing - when your friends ask how you’re doing, tell them you feel like you’re dropping the ball. Your mom friends especially will understand and many of them will probably feel the same way and want to talk about it. If you don’t have mom friends, you NEED mom friends. Seek out genuine relationships with people you can do life with.
2. Take a break - whatever that looks like. It may be going in the other room for a few minutes to catch your breath and have 5 feet of personal space. It may look like handing off the kids when your husband gets home and having a few minutes of quiet time. Better yet, see if someone can take your kiddos off of your hands for a few hours. It’s amazing how your patience can renew once you’ve had some time for yourself. If this means turning on Netflix for a bit while you make dinner sometimes, I say do it. It can’t be on all the time, but balance is important.
3. Devotional time - I find that on days where I start out having spent some time in my Bible and praying, I am able to keep my perspective a little better. We pray every night for wisdom and guidance in raising our children, but I want to learn to stop and pray for patience and love towards my children when I feel my temperature rising. God sees us in our mess and He hears us when we call out to Him.
4. Good enough can be good enough - and sometimes it has to be. Order a pizza, let the laundry stack up on the couch, skip your workout and use Click ‘n’ Collect to get groceries. It’s fine. If having the energy to deal with your babies and keep your sanity means not cleaning your floors, then step away from the mop and leave them. It’ll be okay, I promise. Once things calm down, you can let your inner Martha Stewart out, but today is not that day.
5. Chocolate - if ever there was a time for a few squares of chocolate or another treat of choice, the day when you feel like you might just be losing your mind is it.
So if you feel like you've been dropping the ball and that you're an unfit mother, just know you aren’t the only mom who screamed at their kids today and that it’s not as horrible as you think. So give yourself and your kids some grace and know that they need you, imperfections and all. They don’t need you to be perfect, they just need your love.