From the outside looking in, I have always had an idyllic life. I grew up in a happy, large family located in a small farm community. I was always successful in school, getting straight As and winning contests without putting in too much effort. I married my high school sweetheart almost 20 years ago and we have an easy, fun-filled marriage, with the occasional small fight to keep it interesting. We have a son and a daughter who are both just about the easiest teens alive, getting straight As and never having screaming fights with us. My husband works for a really great company and I am able to stay home as our family manager and chauffeur, with time to volunteer at our local animal shelter. (At the risk of using an overused phrase, we are blessed beyond measure!)
I have often been told that I am a strong, confident person, and I agree with that analysis. I have had plenty of things “go wrong” in life, but I am still a serial optimist and usually laugh at the craziness of life and shrug off the things that don’t go my way. One of the things I often tell people is that we need the bad days to remind us what a good day feels like…and other really annoying things to hear when you just want to pout for a while.
Now that I’ve set the scene of my beautiful life, let me tell you this about myself too: last Tuesday, I spent several hours in my pajamas, laying in my bed and crying intermittently with napping. Nothing huge or life-changing happened to me, it was just too many small things that had snowballed into big feelings for me.
So I let myself FEEL those feelings and I gave myself some grace. The dishes didn’t get done and the laundry stayed in the washer. I wallowed in my misery, because that’s what my mind and my body needed. I didn’t berate myself at the time for those feelings, and I don’t feel guilty for having them, nor embarrassed by telling you that I had them.
I might be a strong mom, but I am still a person.
We are not robots and we are supposed to live our lives and feel our feelings. Research even shows that crying causes a release of endorphins (or feel-good hormones) and a reduction in stress hormones like cortisol. How amazing are our bodies that they can help us self-soothe with a good old cry fest?!
I think as moms, being overwhelmed is more common than any of us admit. We just add one more thing to our already enormous load and keep going. And society is not supportive of the massive amount of information (and duties) that moms are forced to juggle. We are all taught to laugh off “mom brain” instead of acknowledging that we are overtaxed and no one cares.
Because strong moms don’t sweat the small stuff, and all of us know that our kids deserve a strong mom, right?
So, back to the crying jag. After several hours of that, I got up and took a shower; got dressed and picked up my daughter so we could get ready for her basketball game that evening. Because as moms, that’s what is expected of us. And do you know what? I did feel infinitely better and ready to tackle the next need my family had. Even just a few hours of acknowledging my own needs went a long way in helping to relieve some stress.