It happened again.
You snapped at your child and caught the flash of fear in her eyes. You were harsh with your clingy, whiny toddler, only to find out he had a fever. Your phone distracted you when your child was telling you something that seemed important, and you missed the chance to look in her eyes and really be with her.
If any job will point out your every weakness, it’s motherhood. The stakes seem so high to get it right and do your best. All. The. Time. Let’s face it–you are going to have some pretty epic fails and make a lot of mistakes.
Here are five “mama mantras” to get you through the tough times.
Mantra #1: Bad moments don’t make bad mamas.
Don’t beat yourself up when you mess up. It’s how you pick yourself up that matters. When you have a bad moment, do you wallow in it? Think about what a horrible mom you are? Or do you give yourself grace? Do you apologize and make amends? A bad mom moment could easily turn into an amazing mom moment depending on what path you take.
“I’m sorry I yelled at you. I know it’s ok to feel angry or frustrated, but it’s not ok to yell at people. Can you help me come up with some ideas of what I can do next time I feel like yelling?”
You just empowered your child while modeling problem solving and respectful relationships. Using your own mistakes to teach your child will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
Mantra #2: Be still and notice
While pregnant the first time, many moms told me they barely remembered the first weeks of their children’s lives because they were so tired, worried, and frantically trying to figure out how to care for a brand new human. Telling a pregnant woman she won’t really remember her baby is heartbreaking. I was determined to not let it be true for me.
Now, eight years later, the strongest memories I have of my tiny twin girls are all the times when I was still and just focused on the moment. I picture still my baby girl’s face as the early morning light highlighted her round cheeks the morning after she was born. I remember the weight of her sister cuddled into my neck, just the way she loved to be held. Every day, we have the chance to take a moment to be still and notice. In doing so, we can package up a memory we can visit anytime we like.
Mantra #3: Be curious, not furious.
Watching my daughter’s kindergarten graduation filled me with anything but pride. My normally quiet and mature six-year-old was blowing the tassel on her cap, making strange faces, and constantly squirming while the teacher was talking. I really wanted to chew her out after it was over. Instead, I remembered to be curious, not furious. I asked, “What did you think of the graduation?”
“I HATED it! It was SO embarrassing!!!”
As it turns out, she was wildly uncomfortable with the fact that her classroom was full of people she didn’t know and felt like they were all watching her. That’s why she was acting so strange. Even though I was really annoyed and embarrassed by her behavior, I’m glad I asked a question instead of casting judgment.
Mantra #4: Do small things with great love.
It doesn’t take a lot of extra time to put some extra love into your daily interactions with children. It can be as simple as sticking a note to their pillow or taking the time to ask their opinion on something. Don’t underestimate the power of a loving touch. A hand on the shoulder or a kiss on the forehead communicates safety and love and actually changes brain chemistry. In fact, studies have shown that the person giving a hug benefits just as much as the person being hugged. Check out this great little list of little ways to show love, too.
Mantra #5: There’s no way to be a perfect mom, but a million ways to be a good one.
Stop trying to be perfect, to be enough, and do all the right things. We can’t and don’t have to be everything for your children. We all have some combination of faith, spouses or partners, grandparents, teachers, friends, and family to lean on and love our kids, too. You were never meant to do this alone. Let’s let go of the need for perfection and just focus on something good we can do as a mom today.
Then do it again tomorrow.
You were made for this, mama.
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