I posted Life With Intent 3 weeks ago and since then I have had a surprising amount of people reach out to me to say that I could have written the post about them.
Something that didn't surprise me, though it did interest me, was that the vast majority of this feedback was from fellow moms.
When I wrote that piece, I was under no assumption that my situation was unique. I'm a fairly rational person, so I didn't believe that I was the only person to be experiencing this. I had an idea that moms especially could relate. Being a mom is hard. You are pulled in so many directions at once. I think we've all seen the "mom resume" memes. We are caregivers, chefs, nurses, chauffeurs, etc.
In addition, being a mom is overwhelming. We as human beings crave some kind of normalcy. A routine. Something that we feel like we have a grasp on. Sometimes those routines become mechanical and we mentally check out because the machine is doing all the work. When you are overwhelmed at the responsibility of not only providing the basic needs of smaller humans that depend on you, but the pressure to be the best at it, of giving them all the good things in life in the name of parenting, then it's so easy to turn on autopilot and check out.
We are not machines but we are expected to act like it. We are expected to enrich our children's lives, keep a clean home, feed them healthy food, limit their screen time, make every possible moment in their lives educational. Every day, articles are churned out on the best toys, the best car seats, the best discipline methods, the best foods, the best teaching tools. Experts will tell you how to get babies to sleep, how to feed them, when to feed them, what they should sleep on, how much screen time for each age bracket, and most of all, what you're doing wrong that you need to stop doing now.
Did you know that just days after the Aurora theater shooting occurred, I came across a comment online that said that they bet Ashley Moser, mother to Veronica Moser-Sullivan (6) who died in the shooting, will wish that she had died once she realizes that it was her fault that her daughter was murdered? There were several others in agreement.
This mother had lost her child. A week later she miscarried her second child. She is now a quadriplegic due to the injuries that she sustained. And she was being blamed for it. If only she hadn't taken her daughter to a movie. What an awful mother she was. The comment stung because Justin and I had considered going to that movie on the invitation of some friends of Justin's, one of whom was also a victim in that shooting, but ultimately decided that it would be too late for Jaden. Otherwise our child would have been there, too.
I tell that story to prove that moms are always under the spotlight. Sometimes, though, we might be shining that spotlight on ourselves. We take on these mom duties because, well, that's what we're suppose to do. If your mom doesn't want the best for you, then who else will?
But maybe we're expecting too much of ourselves. When you are juggling so many things at once, the allure of flipping on that autopilot mode and zoning out becomes more and more appealing. The more we do it, the more we miss out. The more we miss out, the more we beat ourselves up. It's a constant cycle. I like to idealize times past, and think that "moms in this decade or that decade didn't worry about such things." But I have heard several older family members say that they, too, have mom guilt, and their children are grown with kids and grandkids of their own. So maybe momming has always been one of the hardest things to do, and no matter what we do, we will always find fault in something.
Let's just all agree that there are two things that we as moms need to do. First, we need to stop feeling like we have to do everything. We can't. We need to accept it now. Some of us are great at getting down on the floor and playing with our kids. Some of us are great at allowing our kids to get messy and explore. Some are great at hugs and snuggles. We all have at least one thing that makes us the best mom in the world in the eyes of our kids. Let's just focus on that.
The second thing we need to do is turn off autopilot and allow ourselves to relax. No amount of blog posts (including mine) should make you feel like you're not mom enough because you're zoning out on your phone all day. I think that we need to slowly come to our own conclusions on that. I've read hundreds of posts about the day it dawned on them that they spend more time looking at a screen than they do their kids, and, while it hit home at first, I'd keep scrolling. I had to have my own moment that caused me to want to change. Maybe yours is coming soon.
In the meantime, don't beat yourself up over it. Refer to the top of this post where I said that momming it HARD.
Some moms have additional stressors. Some moms go to work every day. Some moms return to school. The guilt of leaving your kids, even if it's to just shut the door so you can get some work done in peace, is often overwhelming on top of all the other mom duties. I don't have experience with this, but all I can say about it is that you are setting an example for your kids. You are demonstrating hard work, the importance of education, study skills, and perseverance. You might not think that they see it, but they do. And they will remember.
All of our kids will grow up and remember that they have a mother who loved them. They won't remember that one time when you weren't watching their backyard ninja performance or the time you said you couldn't play dinosaurs because you had to make dinner. They will remember your smile, the way you smell, and how you always changed your voice during the funny part in their favorite book. They will remember what matters, so let's let go of the things that don't.