Yesterday as I was leaving my OB-Gyn appointment with all three of my young kids in tow, my doctor made the kindest comment to me. Before I share it with you, though, I need to set the scene:
The baby was screaming in his stroller with snot running down his nose. The two-year-old was trying to put his toy laptop in the basket of the stroller, effectively tripping me and getting his foot run over in the process. The four-year-old was asking questions about my "yearly exam" while standing directly in the path of my stroller in that narrow hallway. I tried to answer her as vaguely as possible over the din of my unhappy baby while smiling apologetically at the nurses.
But my doctor stopped me in the hallway, looked me in the eye, and said, "You're doing a wonderful job. You're a great mom."
I turned and looked around at my circus. I looked at the baby's dripping nose and angry red face. I looked at my daughter's unruly and matted hair falling out of the ponytail I had done in haste on the way out the door. I looked at the many and varied foodstuffs that I missed when I wiped my toddler's face.
Then I replied, "It sure doesn't feel like it sometimes. It's nice to hear someone say it out loud!"
But her comment and my subsequent response got me thinking on the drive home: why don't I acknowledge that I'm a good mom? Why do I only focus on the guilt?
When I was a teacher, I knew what I needed to improve on, and I worked hard on those things, but I also knew that I was really great at certain aspects of my job. I felt confident and effective.
When I write a blog post that resonates with people, I feel proud of the words I've crafted. I notice errors, sure, but I don't dwell on them.
So why, WHY, do I let guilt creep in all the time about my worthiness as a mother?
Let me share a few weird, almost comical things I have felt guilty about as a mom:
...not making my own wool dryer balls. It's not enough that I've switched from dryer sheets to wool balls. I SHOULD ALSO BE HANDCRAFTING THEM IN MY SPARE TIME.
...that my toddler has in all likelihood learned his shapes and colors from Little Baby Bum on Netflix.
...cleaning the house 17 times throughout the day but still having it look like the site of a natural disaster when my husband gets home from work. Incidentally, he could not possibly care less if the house is a mess when he gets home.
...shuffling the clean laundry from one basket to another instead of folding it because I'm too busy doing other stuff like playing trains with my son or pursuing my dreams.
...that my breastmilk is probably 73% coffee.
...throwing away my daughter's artwork. She's prolific, but all her work looks the same TBH.
...not having my kids play outside barefoot enough. (What's the "right" amount of outside barefoot time?)
...not instantly running into the room when I hear my 2 older kids fighting. I just...can't listen to the whining anymore. They'll figure it out, right?
...forgetting to introduce new solids to my 8-month-old. If I remember to give him solids at all. Listen, he's nursing great, and his thighs no longer fit in 6-12 month pants, so we're doing ok.
...not doing more flashcards with my 4-year-old.
...my lax timing on changing diapers.
...hiding from my kids in order to get some peace and quiet. Or to enjoy a snack without sharing.
...the overdue library books. Always with the overdue library books.
...hiding toys and/or books that annoy me from my kids.
...wanting a break from my kids so I can think and write and be creative.
And the list could go on and on. But as a wiser, more seasoned mom once told me, "If you're worried about being a good mother, you probably are a good mother."
There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve on some things as a human, as a wife, and as a mother. The problem is when we let the shame of not being enough, of not being all things to all people, of not being perfect in every aspect of life overtake our thoughts.
Listen, fellow mom: It's time to set aside the unproductive emotion of guilt. It's no longer serving you. Probably no one cares about those things except you anyway. Instead, take to heart these truths:
You are enough.
You are human, and you are allowed to make mistakes.
Again, you are human. You are allowed to have needs and even wants. You are allowed to pursue your passion.
Your kids are enjoying their childhood even though you didn't do crafts with them.
Might I posit that they are enjoying their childhood more because you didn't do crafts with them?
(I really hate crafts).
You bless your children with your own unique gifts and talents.
You love your children with all your heart. And that is what good moms do.
Tell me: what strange things have you felt guilty about as a mom?