As any mom will attest, the relentless Mother-Guilt that follows our every move can be exhausting to try to stave off and avoid. With every decision we make, or thing we say, we wonder, “is this the thing that will ruin him?”, or “Is this the moment he’ll be re-counting to his therapist when he’s 27?”.
These days, there is an equally relentless message that as mothers, we should never yell at our child, or become impatient with them; that we should always offer them a safe space to express whatever feeling they may be feeling at that moment. That, when they are angry and hit us, we should respond calmly, but firmly, “I know you’re feeling a strong feeling right now, but we do not hit”, and should always be able to control ourselves and speak calmly and rationally to our tantruming toddler.
These days, any kind of anger/aggression/irritation, etc., is deemed detrimental to our child’s’ mental health and well-being and that it would almost be better to act more like a robot emotionally so that we don’t ever “hurt” them.
Not only is it a relentless message, but a ludicrous expectation that sets us all up for failure.
I would say I spend the majority of my days trying my best to “be the adult”, to stay calm, to remain rational and to continue to be a nurturing mom despite the fact that they decided to give some of their toys a bath and now I have 4 completely soaked stuffed animals sopping and all crammed into my sink.
I try to remain calm when I’m on the phone with someone, while at the same time trying to get them their juice that they so desperately need right now at this very moment. And as soon as I leave the room, they have climbed on to the counter-tops again.
I sometimes lose my cool and snap at my boys, “I’ve told you a thousand times to get off the counter!”.
I may not have slept well the night before. I may have a lot of stress because of something at work, or an argument I had with Husband, or just because we all have cabin fever and we’re dying to be able to be outside again.
Sometimes I just want–no need– to be alone for a while and write, or read, or watch re-runs of The Cosby Show. Sometimes my kids want me to do something for them, or play with them, or give them something and I have nothing left to give.
And it’s hard when all of these things happen. I feel guilty. I feel less-than-a-mother (even though I know better).
The other day, my younger son, Doe and I were home alone for a while. We were excited to have some “alone time”. It was cold outside, we had just had some lunch and we decided to snuggle under some blankets in the recliner and watch a little Scooby-Doo together, when I wrapped my arm around him, pulled him in tight and he looked up at me and said, “Mommy, you’re safe”.
This simple sentence from my son meant more to me than anything else people tell me, such as “you’re a good mom”, “you’re doing a great job” or “your kids are so happy”.
Knowing that my own child feels so safe in my arms is all the proof I need that I am doing an okay job. I remember that same feeling with my own mother and the fact that my kids feel that with me is antidote enough for those moments when I’m consumed with guilt and berating myself because I told my kids I didn’t feel like playing with them at the moment.
I don’t have to be the “perfect” mother to be a safe mother. I think this should be our new mantra, don’t you?
If you do…feel free to click on the juggling lady and vote for me and maybe we can convince other moms too!!