I thought that in order to be a good mother, I had to deny who I truly am. I was wrong.
And honestly, thank the Good Lord for that. Imagine for a moment how terrible the world would be if every Mom was exactly the same…Y’all that would be terrible. We would all be miserable!
When I began my motherhood journey five years ago, I thought I had to cram myself into the motherhood box. You know the one; it’s the one society labels a “good mother.” Generally, “good mother” goes hand-in-hand with “good wife.”
The weight of those two boxes is enough to drown even the best swimmer.
So many women enter motherhood with the misconception that we must give up who we truly are in order to be good moms. That’s seriously the worst thing we could do, yet so many of us do it. I had this entire reality of motherhood construed in my mind when my first child was born. I was adamant that I was going to be the perfect mom for him.
I’ve laid that pipe dream to rest five years into this whole Mom thing.
It took me too long to realize that the best mom for my kids is ME. Not whatever society tells me I need to be, but who I truly am at the core. And the type of Mom that I am is going to be different from the type of Mom you are — and that’s the beauty of motherhood.
The biggest thing I have done wrong on my motherhood journey is denying myself joy. I thought my job as a mother was to stifle who I am, my wants and needs, in order to raise good tiny humans. I thought in order to be the best mom for them I had to cater to their every need and have my world revolve entirely around them.
Mama, please don’t make the same mistake I did.
By putting myself dead last in my family, I created what I like to call the Monster Mom. I was resentful, anxious, depressed, jealous, miserable, and irritated. Even the smallest outings and tasks overstimulated me to the point of tears. I hid from family and friends because I wasn’t proud of the mother I was. I felt inadequate, overwhelmed, and unprepared. I thought my kids deserved a better Mom and my husband deserved a better wife. I wanted out. Glory be to science, therapy, and Heaven that I’m writing this for you to read today.
In 2022, I decided that I mattered. Me as a person, not me as a mother. Just me — solo. I gave up the goal of the “perfect mom” title in order to be my best self. And guess what? My best self has allowed me to be the mom my kids actually need.
Last year I started taking care of myself. It was SO hard at first. Honestly, it felt like a monumental task. I felt like I was doing something wrong by allowing my wants and needs to come first occasionally. I felt guilty when I began this journey of unlearning toxic motherhood.
Here’s what I did the year I started taking care of myself:
- I started voicing my opinions. Women do not need to be silent.
- I didn’t take on every task. I delegated. I let my plate empty when it was overflowing.
- I made time to sit in the tub and take a bath at night. Usually ate cake and read a book, too.
- I started buying fresh flowers. They make me happy. Why did I ever stop doing that?
- I prioritized time alone. I didn’t jam-pack my schedule with activities and outings.
- I made sure to spend time with people other than my family. You need friends in your village!
- I started seeking help in the areas I need it. I continued therapy, got my son the Occupational Therapy he needs and learned how to be a better mom for him through that learning process, and hired cleaning help.
- I’ve had difficult conversations with my spouse. It’s hard to bring feelings to the surface that you’ve packed away for years, but saying those thoughts out loud immensely helped.
- I set boundaries with myself and with others.
- I found a way to keep my mind busy and creative.
- I got outside in the sunshine.
You might laugh at some of those, but they were all steps in my healing journey. When I started taking care of myself, I became a better mom, wife, and friend. Now when I think about the person I am, I am proud instead of embarrassed and overwhelmed. I needed a total mindset shift and taking care of myself allowed that to happen.