Posted by: thughesa | August 17, 2010

How to Beat the Heat…

It isn’t easy being a mom. In fact, I can honestly say it is the hardest thing I have ever done.

There is much to learn, discover, and accept. One must learn new skills such as how to nurse or change diapers, discover hidden secrets pertaining to things like the ‘ins and outs’ (literally) of one’s particular brand of baby, and accept new truths:

#1. Your life is no longer your own.

There is no manual that will tell you how to be a good parent and turn out a decent human being in the end. In the beginning there were a few characteristics I thought were imperative for being a good mother; namely being patient, kind, firm, and loving. Beyond this I thought variety in parenting techniques, lifestyles, and types of households served to create this unique and fascinating thing we call life. It appears I was wrong.

I soon learned that a good mother delivers naturally without drugs and doesn’t complain, breastfeeds exclusively, has a spotless home 24/7, never yells at her kids, only provides her child with wooden toys, and exclusively buys organic clothing and organic food. Jeepers. I had birthed into the eco-mom movement and I didn’t even know it, which put me at a disadvantage right from the start.

I found myself drowning in adequacy, my stroller was haphazardly chosen minus major mental strife and consideration, I was using formula, I often took my baby out without a hat when every other baby was covered from head to toe in knitted hats and foot muffs, I introduced solids at three and half months, and the worst crime of all, I didn’t love being a mom every single second of the day. It takes time to adjust no matter how much you wanted your baby, anticipated her arrival, or dreamed of being a mom. There are sore nipples, poop, puke, lack of personal hygiene, loss of sex life, and sleepless nights.

I also felt judgment, real and imagined, at every turn. If it wasn’t the disapproving mother at the pool seemingly sneering at me as I bottle fed my daughter, it was myself. As I watched the evening newscast breaking the news that the bottles I had used were laced with potentially deadly BPA I judged myself for somehow not knowing better.

Through all this I have realized to a large degree I am my own worst enemy. I judge myself, based on what the media says I should or should not be doing, what other mothers are doing, or where I think I am failing even though I am probably doing a good job. Frankly, its hard not to. How else are you going to figure out if you are a good mother or not? Right?

After a few months of self flagellation I finally came up with a plan to take the heat off myself and just try to be the mom I wanted and hoped I could be:

First, I stopped talking about all the things I thought I was doing wrong. I have a bad habit of sharing every emotion and moment of my day at times. I thought if I didn’t rehash and focus on the negative, no one else, including myself, would either.

Second, I surrounded myself with like-minded, kind, and thoughtful moms who didn’t constantly talk about about the organic baby food they just made or the watered-down juice their kid was drinking. I think it is great to do whatever you think is best for your baby, or whatever it is that keeps the guilt-monster away, but constantly highlighting it to other mommies is annoying and comes across as more judgment.

Third, I cut myself some slack. My kids are happy (most of the time), polite, clean, healthy, and imaginative. I must be doing something right. Right?

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Responses

  1. I love reading how you are working through this experience.
    It’s worth analyzing – we are going to have to coach our daughters thru it one day.

  2. Thanks SMS!

    I wish my own mother had introspected a little more about parenting and passed on some insight.

    Times have changed, I think when my mom was having kids you just had to grin and bear it and hope for the best.

    I find gnashing it around in my head a little helps me find ways to make our lives more enjoyable and peaceful.

    Theresa 🙂

  3. Theresa, I love your post and totally empathize!

    When I was young I used to think grown-ups had everything under control, knew what they were doing and were living the lives they had chosen to live. When I couldn’t deny any longer that I was grown up (around 30?), I still thought everybody else was all sorted, and it was only me who was struggling, because of my family history of whatever …

    These days, I have come to the conclusion, that this is simply the way things are for most people. Most people struggle – with their work, with their relationships, with or without children – some or most of the time. The people who seem all content are often fooling either themselves or me! Usually they only talk about it in hindsight – that something was a difficult time for them, or that a relationship, once broken up, and been bad for a long time.

    So I think anyone who is willing to reflect truthfully will find that motherhood is difficult – just like being a teenager is difficult, growing up is difficult, studying is difficult, starting out in the work world is difficult, love is difficult (!!!!!) … and so on. I think motherhood is particularly difficult because you do come face to face with such confronting emotions. It does get to your core, doesn’t it. That’s also why it’s the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done.

    It’s wonderful to hear from people who courageously look into the abyss of their own emotions and attempt to truthfully describe the difficulties they may be facing. Forget about the perfect eco-mums. They are either high on endorphins, or they are playing a role. Keep doing what you’re doing, you are doing a wonderful job. And yes – your kids are lovely, so you must be doing something right!

    All the best,

    Zooey

    • Thank you for your comments Zooey.

      I think you are very right, there are a lot of challenges in life that are difficult and sometimes you think you are the only one struggling.

      I think what strikes me most about the struggles of motherhood is the stakes, they are much higher than anything I have faced before in my life. I can only hope that I can call the bluffs, throw away the right cards, and end up with a good hand in the end.

      Cheers,
      Theresa


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