Tomorrow is a new day! I need to learn to enjoy my poor old kids because one day soon they will turn 18! I just need a good night’s sleep! I need a break, people! Tell me I’m not going crazy! Someone just look up and say, “Thank-you for slaving over us all the time!”
Does that all sound familiar?
A friend was recently telling me that she seems to constantly attract sorry-stares of empathy from onlookers when she is out alone with her five young children. Yet when her husband is out alone with their five children, he seems to attract stares of admiration and glances that silently scream out: “Hey champ, can we turn you into a billboard or a trophy?”
As mothers, we have a job description like no other, one that’s uniquely broad, where the parameters are extended and redefined, sometimes daily, sometimes hourly.
The expectation, or shall we call it – the myth – surrounding good mothering suggests that mums must always be there for their kids, always understand what’s going on in their child’s world, always be their child’s greatest fan club, and always put their kids first. Always. Always. Always.
If you and I are planning to enjoy motherhood and stay sane in the process, we need to manage a certain epidemic, better known as, motherly guilt. We are led to believe that motherly guilt and mothering go hand-in-hand. That’s not actually true! The phrase motherly guilt probably started resonating with you from the moment you fell pregnant. You most likely experienced motherly guilt then, when you succumbed to that craving for soft cheese, deli ham or a glass of wine, or when you forgot to take that folic acid capsule!
That self-reprimand has probably stuck with you since then. Over the years, motherly guilt has most likely also continued to challenge you when you considered returning to work, when you avoided volunteering for the school excursion, when you battled post-natal-depression, when you single parented, or when you have been impatient, when you have yelled or when your kids have wide-eyed watched you Lose. The. Plot. Right?
While some guilt is good guilt that rightly keeps our nurturing-radar full of battery life, most guilt that us mums experience is unhelpful, hypothetical and grossly exaggerated.
In my book, “Break Free from Motherly Guilt” I outline four strategic keys that help mums overcome the motherly guilt that prevents us from celebrating our parenting victories, that stifles us from enjoying our parenting journey and that prevents us from believing in ourselves and celebrating our parenting milestones. Motherly guilt does not bring out the best in us.
Here’s a snapshot of the four keys outlined in Break Free from Motherly Guilt:
Key 1: As mums, we must redefine our personal values. This will help us reduce the gap between our expectations and our reality. Essentially, the space between these two conflicting paradigms is where we experience most of our motherly guilt.
Key 2: As mums, we must reprogram our thinking. This will help you conquer the mind battles, re-wire your thinking and become less of a victim to the random, unnecessary and judging thoughts that your brain tries to convince you with.
Key 3: As mums, we must regulate our emotions. This will help you manage your emotional state and experience increased emotional stability.
Key 4: As mums, we must readjust our behaviour. This will help you identify areas where you may consider setting small and achievable development goals for your future that will ensure greater fulfillment across all areas of your life, not just your parenting.
You and I have the power to become free from the unnecessary burden of motherly guilt that hovers over us, almost daily, and strips us of our confidence and energy.
Remember, motherly guilt does not have to be the parenting package-deal! Happy Mother’s Day because you fully deserve to be celebrated! You are a champion and a hero and your bad days don’t define you. You might be a work-in-progress, but you are also a masterpiece-in-the-making!