“You suck at this.”
It’s your smug inner voice again. Every mother is plagued by it, and it fuels your fire of self-doubt.
Again. “You’re a failure.”
Sometimes you’re strong enough to ignore it. Other times, it cuts so deep you bleed tears.
Your vision of motherhood is not the same as your reality. You want to be a good mom.
But you’re no schmuck.
You heard that being a parent is hard. You were ready. Then parenthood whacked you senseless and laughed on its way out the door.
As you struggle to be a perfect mother, you feel hopeless. There’s always another SuperMom that possess powers over their patience that you weren’t born with.
Ever felt like that?
I’ll put my hand up. I’ve struggled with feeling like I’m a ridiculous failure as I’ve walked down the main street with a swimming-costume clad toddler in tow – in winter. At first, I screamed and yelled saying “you’ll get sick.” Then, I gave up.
I was convinced I could hear the echoes of everyone in the street tittering about me from behind their lattes.
I know what you’re thinking.
You think you can’t ever be one of those good mothers because your patience is in short supply and somehow you end up yelling – again.
I feel it too. We’re told to trust our instincts and we’ll be good moms. Like we’re born with a prepackaged SuperMom Toolkit.
Thinking you can be a good mother if you rely on your instincts has made you believe you’re a failure. It’s holding you back.
The view that other mothers are better mothers is false. Trusting your instincts isn’t enough in today’s hectic, multi-cultural, competitive world. It’s not just your tribe, your community, your community viewpoints anymore. It’s the whole world – saying you can be better, do better, find better.
Here’s 6 way you’re sabotaging your motherhood and how you can stop, right now:
1. Know snapshots distort your view.
Social media is partly to blame, but what you choose to see is no less at fault. Your personal lens filters your view to support your beliefs. As Dr. Robert Cialdini says, “People strive for consistency in their commitments. They also prefer to follow pre-existing attitudes, values and actions.”
If you already believe you’re failing, you’ll see plenty of evidence around you to prove it. Snapshots of stress-free lives are nothing more than a moment in time – and it’s not the complete picture. Social media allows a one-way view of others’ lives. Happy Facebook family pics. Instagram filtered romps on the beach. Pinterest-perfect birthday parties. Social media messages seep into our being and warp our view of normal.
2. Stop the cultural comparison.
A rock-solid way of doing things in one country can be downright absurd in another. Babies sleeping alone is negligence in Japan, yet considered the norm in Western society. We live in multicultural societies now. Cultural boundaries are blurred, and the benchmark on normal parenting is impossible to distinguish. Stop comparing yourself to every kind of mom out there. You’ll always lose because you can’t be everyone.
3.Maternal instinct. Is it real?
Dr. Kennedy-Moore, in Psychology Today, sums it up nicely: ‘Maternal instinct’ implies a biologically based, inborn knowledge that tells us how to parent. I don’t know of any evidence of this in humans. Human relationships are so complex and so varied across different cultures and different individuals, I can’t even imagine what a universal human maternal instinct would look like.
You don’t parent exactly the same way your neighbour (or even your sister!) does…” Sure, most mothers experience an overwhelming flood of emotion and a powerful urge to protect and nurture their children. But that doesn’t translate into practical knowledge of how to decipher a newborns’ reason for endless crying, or manage a teenager on the brink of derailment.
4. Fear of failure does not a Good Mom make.
A core driving force of human nature. Throw in a parental bond and you’ve created a perfect storm. We’ll fight to succeed as parents, but the only way to gauge where we place on the failure scale is by using our own judgement. And that’s risky territory. Instead, you should consider giving yourself permission to do it your way. To parent in the best way for your family, in your everyday life, wherever you live.
Give yourself permission to parent your way and open yourself to more calmness, less yelling and an inner-peace to be envied by any yogi.
5. Learn the SuperMom Sense Check
Giving yourself permission is only the first step. You’ll need to set aside half an hour to do a sense-check.
Print this Checklist and tape it to your mirror for a week.
What three things cause me the most stress every day?
Next, drill down and ask, what can I do about each stressful thing to make it easier for my family.
Here are a couple of examples:
Is your rigid routine of bathing the kids every day pushing bedtime so late they’re delirious with tiredness? Solution: just bath them on alternate days, or when they’re properly dirty.
Going crazy running a taxi service to endless activities? Solution: drop something – they’re not going to be Olympic athletes for every sport they play each week.
Ask yourself what you’re great at?
What works well for you and your family? Lock in these things to remain part of your daily routine. Giving yourself permission will help you change focus. No longer will you feel as if you’re stuck on an out-of-control circus ride.
6. Shift focus and balance duties like a pro.
To be the best mother you can be, you must balance everyone’s needs. Including your own. You can’t always do right by everyone. I’m sure I’m not alone when I drop a ball and forget something. The world doesn’t stop turning.
Disapproving whispers won’t ripple through your community if you’re ten minutes late to collect your kids or forget to send lunch money to school.
Dust yourself off and move on.
The Secret to Success
Lower your bar and ground yourself in reality.
You’ll yell less. And that tightness you get in your chest you get every time you feel like you’ve failed – it’ll vanish.
It’s your belief that your instincts will take control and end the chaos that has zapped your energy and patience.
By stepping past this idea, you’re now free to focus on the real needs of your family. Not some fabricated idea of perfection.
With the reigns firmly in your hand, let the worry and self-doubt subside.
You’ll hold your head high when your toddler writhes in screaming fury on the shopping mall floor. Teenage craziness will be a walk in the park. Your decision to be a working mum, or to stay at home will feel right. Home-schooling – bring it on. You won’t give a hoot that people think you’re completely bonkers because it’s right for you.
Throwing lavish themed parties or skew-whiff bargain basement home parties will both result in the same thing – droves of screaming happy kids – and that’s all that matters.
Decisions will feel right, and the only scale you’ll judge yourself on is the mood of your home.
And that smug, self-deprecating inner voice – it’s gone. Drowned out by the roar of inner-peace.
You get to stop yelling now.
But first, you have to decide:
What three stressful things are on your list to kick out of your life for good?
Download our SuperMom Sense Check and stick it on your mirror for inspiration this week.
Ashley & Miranda Recommend Reading
Miranda recommends The Gift of Failure: How to Step Back and Let Your Child Succeed.
Grab a copy here (ebook and paperback).