Chances are, if you’re googling this at midnight, or sitting on a bench in 20 degree cold at the park while your kids play (IT ME) you’re probably not. But oof is it easy to go there.
It is so easy to feel like a failure. To feel like every snack served, every spill cleaned, every single sock collected, is a reminder of all the ways you screwed up your kids that day. What used to be endless lists of To-Dos at the office, people/projects to follow up on, has become endless lists of all the things I said and did that day that will inevitably ruin my children.
Did I handle that argument between the two big kids poorly? Now they’ll be codependent.
Was my reaction overboard when they pulled each other’s hair in the bath? (At least they took a bath) Now they’ll be aggressive.
Did one of my kids only eat a bagel for every meal today?
(These are hypothetical of course...)
And to add insult to injury, I burnt dinner, left a wet load of laundry in the washer overnight, and showed up to remote learning in pajamas and an eye mask for a stye that’s obviously punishing me for my sh*tty parenting. (See how easy it is to spiral?!)
I know we’re all isolated. It’s obvious that we’re in a pandemic (hey one year anniversary rounding the bend! We see you!) but also this was happening before too. The pandemic only adds deeper layers of seclusion. Mothers and primary caregivers have been on an island, so to speak, for ages. Given the weight of the world with the support of what? A microwave? A TV? Jeeze.
It’s a gargantuan task. And of course, a privilege. The opportunity to raise children and grow your family is one of the greatest honors- and yet it can feel so lonely and daunting. This goes for parents with a gaggle of kids around and for newly minted parents with a sweet newborn in their arms, alike.
And, a heartfelt note for soon-to-be parents: you too will experience this doomsday level of self-doubt and guilt. File this topic away under the “Things No One Tells You” headline- for you will undoubtedly veer off course from the dreamy, perfect parent you envision for yourself. And you will reap the extreme joy and the extreme heartache that comes with raw, honest parenthood. It won’t look like your fantasy- and it won’t look like most of the pics on IG, but it will be real and all yours. I promise.
With that, I know I can turn to my loving partner, my supportive friends, or my understanding
therapist for an encouraging word. And I hope you have people around you who can build you up when you fall. However, I find the old saying “If not me, who...” resonates with me in these moments. I need to stop the spiraling. I need to step in and cut it off.
“My expectations for perfection are unrealistic.” (Note: bring up in Therapy next week)
“My kids are overall healthy and happy and they know I love them.” (Note: hug + kiss extra extra in the morning)
“I will continue to try my best, as that is all I can do.”
“I will be kind and loving to myself. I deserve that.” (Note: thank therapist next week for getting me to that point.)
Deep breath. Smile and count to 5. I’m not a bad mom. I care deeply and I’m a human who makes mistakes and then tries to right them. Tomorrow is a new day. Another chance to experiment with parenting techniques and another chance to screw it all up. ;)