It’s 9:45pm, the kids are finally asleep! Your husband is on a business trip (again).
The kitchen looks like a war zone. You check the fridge to make sure there is cheese left for tomorrow’s lunch boxes (cheese & chips – one more day).
You still have a to send out that report.
10:30pm, you’re finally done. Somehow those evening emails always end up taking more time than planned.
You go to your room & seriously consider going to bed without washing your face nor brushing your teeth…
You manage to get to the bathroom and go through the motions.
And as you sit on your bed the tears start rolling. They kind of just come out at first, for no reason. Then you feel the wave of sorrow, frustration and guilt take you over.
You end up doing the ugly cry sitting right there.
But instead of offering you solace and a very needed release, the crying fit only opens up the door to an endless string of judgment.
The “should” start pouring out.
You SHOULD feed the kids better, after all you are educated and have the money to buy good food but the kids have been fed out of a box or a pack all week long – you hope they still remember what vegetables look like.
You SHOULD be able to keep your house together. Forget Martha Stewart, but you are not raising animals…
You SHOULD be able to do this. Your mom worked, millions of moms work everywhere. If they can pull it off, so SHOULD you!
You SHOULD do more things with your kids. You work at the office, then work at home (trying to tame the chaos & finishing emails…) and you really do not have much time to “do” anything with the kids.
You SHOULD be better at this motherhood thing!….
By 11:15 you know for sure that you are the worst mother in the world and finding sleep is going to be very, very hard.
Let’s try something:
Take a couple of deep breathes (to reset your nervous system). Then go to the kitchen and find (or wash) a mug. Boil some water and choose a nice soothing herbal tea and make yourself a big full mug (to bring you comfort and relaxation).
Find a comfortable place and sit down.
Now imagine that instead of talking to yourself, you are talking to your sister or your best friend. She is having a rough day and the “should” are crushing her.
What would you say to her?
Would you chime in and point out a few more “should” that she missed?
Probably not. You’d highlight all the things she does so well – like spotting when one of the kids is going through something (even if they seems just fine to you). Or preparing great meals when she has the time.
You’d help her bring some perspective – the other moms do it to and it’s just as hard at times.
You’d remind her that some days are harder than others but “this too shall pass”.
I believe that being a working mom is hard. Not so much the working part, but the mom part. And I have yet to meet a mother who says motherhood is like a stroll in the park….
Then you add anything to it and your chances of overwhelm skyrocket. Anything can be a job, your own business but also aging parents, a disable sibling, health problems, anything.
Being a mom is hard. Because it’s not just about you, because you care, because you want the best for someone else and you can’t always give it to them nor guarantee that they will get “the best”.
But sometimes being a mom is hard because we make it hard. We lack compassion for ourselves. We set up standards and expectations that we cannot meet – either because we are unprepared or they don’t depend exclusively on us or they are simply unrealistic.
Keeping the house “nice” is a good example. We often don’t have a “process” to ensure it stays orderly and clean (the process usually is: mommy will do it later). Others are making most of the mess so it’s not always easy to keep up. And having children, a full time-job (no help) and expecting a spotless “interior design” magazine house is kind of…unrealistic.
And so we go: I am so useless, I can’t even keep my house in order! Instead of seeing that: “I don’t have a specific sequence or process to make sure things are in order”,“the kids have been particularly playful today – and it shows – good for them”, “ I have had a busier week so the laundry has piled up” or “I might need to hire someone to help me maintain my standards”.
So on those particularly hard days, instead of beating ourselves up, let’s be kind and gentle, let’s find words of encouragement, let’s be our own best friend.
Photo courtesy of FrameAngel, freedigitalphotos.com
5 thoughts on “How to stop the mommy “should” from pouring”
Been there, done that too? right? Me too – that’s why I became a self-care coach -so I am reminded to practice what I preach 🙂
So, so true! Thank you for writing it so honestly. Sometimes, I think I must be going crazy because it seems no normal person could be so overwhelmed…always helps to know we are not alone in our struggles. It validates how I feel. Thank you.
You welcome Anna. Overwhelm is a very isolating feeling… For one we have a hard time admitting feeling it (feels like defeat), second we all think the “others” have it together… But having kids will make sure you will NOT have it all together all the time 🙂
Thank you for posting this. It’s always nice to be reminded that I’m not the only one feeling this way.