No matter if you are a stay at home mom, a working mom, a step mom, you name it – if you have the title of “MOM” in any way, shape, or form then you’ve got your work cut out for you. The joys of being a parent are endless, the feelings of love and pride are abundant, and the levels of happiness you feel when with your kiddos is second to none, but there are also those times of frustration, of fear, of anxiety that you must also recognize and conquer. Unfortunately, no one gave you a manual after giving birth to your child and then they let you leave the hospital with this new tiny little creature as though you knew what to do with it. And you wanted to protect your child from anything and everything so you made sure to keep him/her safe, to buckle them into their tiny carseat, to drive ten miles UNDER the speed limit on the way home. Then nighttime hits and you hear them cry, and then you panic. What if something is wrong? What if they’re sick? What if they don’t like you? Where was your mom now that you needed her? But you picked your little one up, fed him/her and cuddled each other into the wee hours of the morning. You both survived and you slowly began to realize that maybe you could do this, maybe you could keep them alive and not hurt them in the process. Months quickly turn into years and before you know it, you have a healthy and happy child growing in your house and surprisingly no one was injured along the way. You spend hours on end shuffling between school, sporting events, school functions, camps, tutoring all in the name of raising a well-rounded child. You constantly reinforce the need to be kind, to say please and thank you, to be respectful, to be caring and responsible. The seasons begin to change and your child matures and develops right in front of you. Others comment on how well-behaved he/she is, how smart he/she is, how thoughtful he/she is and then they tell you what a great job you’ve done as a parent. And you smile. Your heart is full. Your soul is happy. You pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and you should rightfully do so.
But the journey of being a mom isn’t always easy. You don’t always have all the answers. You constantly question whether or not you are doing the right thing, whether or not you are being a good enough parent. And to make matters worse, everyone around you always has an opinion of how you should raise your kids, how you should or should’t punish them, how you should attend every sporting event. Doubt creeps in as you question whether or not you are doing a good job. You see other mothers doing things perfectly – attending every school event, volunteering at every sporting event, and looking well put together the entire time. Suddenly you see your failures as a mother: you can’t get off of work to help volunteer at the school, you are home sick with a younger sibling and can’t attend a baseball game, you’re traveling for work and have to miss your child’s music recital. Being perfect as a parent has become the norm in today’s society and so you struggle to fit that mold. Working women are often asked how they deal with being away from their children as if it’s any different for them then it is for their male counterparts; stay at home moms are asked how they survive the day being home with their children…it’s as though mothers are held to a different standard than fathers – who are hardly asked these questions. And to make matters worse, often times women do it to each other without even realizing it. Comments are made about working moms needing to be home more often while comments are made about stay at home moms not getting out enough. Then there’s the discussion about a mom taking “me” time. As if spending an hour or so by herself is taking time away from her family. Mom’s sanity is the key ingredient to a healthy and happy family and if mom is a high-strung nightmare because she is working on overdrive to make sure everyone else is taken care of, she soon begins to neglect her own self-care and her mental state starts to suffer.
There has to be a balance. Women have to remember that they were WOMEN before they were mothers. Taking care of oneself is vital to being able to take care of others. Have you ever paid attention to the safety video when on an airplane? It says to make sure YOU put on YOUR mask before assisting a child. Think about it…if you can’t breathe how can you help your child to breathe? You have to remember that you are just as important as your children. And yes, you would die for them, but you should also be able to live for them. You don’t have to give up being you in order to be a good mom. You don’t have to push away your dreams and goals – whatever they may be. You need to be a strong and driven woman who is a role model for her children, who shows her children through her own actions that they can be whatever they want in life, that it’s ok to dream big and to go after their dreams. And you can do this all while raising a family, you don’t have to have one or the other. Lastly, don’t forget about your friends! Set up a night out with your peeps. Girl time is a must for all moms; venting out your frustrations, sharing funny stories, asking for advice – help all women become better mothers and it shows that all moms go through very similar things and that no one is perfect, even if they look/seem perfect.
In the end, your children will love you for you. And when you are home with them, make sure to be present, to be engaged, to play, to laugh, to scold, to correct – to do anything and everything you can to raise them into loving and kind individuals. Because that’s what being a mom is all about. It’s about loving them, holding them, protecting them, teaching them, correcting them – and then sending them out into the world to carry on your love. They will be better individuals because of you and you should know that. Be proud to carry the label of MOM and remember, you are doing a GREAT JOB!