This business of parenting is challenging. I feel that moms have it even more challenging. I don’t see dads comparing themselves to each other, feeling inadequate, feeling torn between working or staying home, feeling like they are not enough.
Ok, ok, maybe there are dads out there that struggle through that. Or maybe all of us parents struggle on some level.
I suppose because I am a woman and have mostly female friends, I see this more as a mom issue.
Having young children can be terribly isolating at times, especially if you have limited supports. Your schedule is dependent on naps or feeding times. The physical exhaustion can be so intense. You can struggle between wanting to have some time to yourself and not feeling like you are giving enough to your child.
There have been many moments in the past couple of years when I feel like I am finally coming up for air. I am sure that part of this is leaving survival mode. Some of it is simply coming out of the preschooler/toddler stage with my children.
On the weekends, I can go on a two hour run and not feel guilty about having alone time. I realize that those moments are helping me become a better mom. I need that time alone. I need that time to feel good about myself. And it’s not just running. Sometimes it’s journaling or crafting or reading or cooking alone. It’s those things that make me feel like a separate entity from my children, like a real person.
When I talk to moms with kids in that demanding stage, it is easy for me to remember those days. I see the struggle with some of those moms. The desire to redefine themselves now that they have added “mom” to their list of roles.
I wish I had words of wisdom. Sometimes, it’s an accomplishment to simply survive those years. Looking back on it, maybe there are some things that would have made it a bit more bearable. To be honest, I can still use these reminders.
We are not the mom next door to us. And we are not supposed to be the mom next door to us. We are individuals. We have our own values and our own way of raising our kids. And that’s ok.
We can make it through this business of parenting by creating supports with other moms. We need to share frustrations, successes, questions with other people who have been there. And when we see other moms who are struggling, we can offer to be a support for them, watch their kids, listen to their stories, bring coffee. Now that I see myself as emerging from some of that physically demanding part of parenting, I enjoy supporting moms who are still in the trenches. Sometimes, all we need to hear that we are not alone.
It is ok to renew our spirits and take care of our own needs. It is ok for us to have other roles outside that of “mom” and interests that are unique to us. Having a hobby (or interests or goals) doesn’t mean that I am neglecting my children, it means that I am nurturing myself. And that helps me be a better mom.
Exercise is great at getting out that negative energy and helping gain perspective about this business of parenting. This is something that I neglected when my kids were toddling around. It can be hard to fit into the schedule. It has to fit between all of the guilt for spending 30 minutes by yourself. Sigh. Let’s all reread the previous paragraph just for good measure. The other benefit to exercise as a mom is that it can make you feel a little bad ass. Why yes, I have two children and I just ran 12 miles. Not that I’ve ever thought that….
If you are a mom of young ones, hang in there. It’s ok if you aren’t cherishing every moment with your child because your child is having such a screaming fit about going into Kohls that it reminds you of that scene from The Omen where they try to take the spawn of the devil into a church. It’s ok to table that moment and cherish some others.
But please don’t be fooled. That physically demanding time changes into new parenting challenges.
We can make it through those too. Let’s stick together.