You know how everyone always reassures you that you’re a good mom, but no matter what, you just feel like the world’s biggest failure when it comes to being a mom from time to time? Well, we all get there. We’ve all been there. And, we’re all good moms. Even when we’re not okay, we’re still good moms.
The last two weeks in particular have been hard for me–I lost my job over something stupid, went to an interview and got turned down, and then spent the rest of the week struggling to figure out how to pay bills and provide for Henrietta the way that I need too. I thought transitioning from being a stay-at-home-mom to being a working mom was hard, but what I didn’t know that the transition back to being a stay-at-home-mom is even harder. There were so many new things about my daughter that I didn’t know. I had to learn her all over again, because she was like a whole new baby. It was like coming home from the hospital again, frustrating and difficult for both of us. Her schedule was different than before, the things she used to like she now hates, and the things she used to hate she now loves. The adjustment was stressful for me as if I didn’t already have enough stress to deal with, and it was just a stressful for her. Which meant she was fussy and cranky, which just stressed me out even more. It’s a cycle.
By the end of week two of my life after losing my job, I was on edge. Normally I can handle Henrietta’s fussiness to an extreme point before I start getting agitated, and even then, I can get through it pretty easily. But with the stress of trying to pay bills, trying to find a job, trying to figure her new ways out, being frustrated, etc…I just could not do it. By the end of that week, I was crying at every little thing, frustrated at my sweet girl, pushing her off on my husband, irritated and cranky, taking everything out on my little family when it wasn’t there fault. I yelled at Henrietta, I argued with my husband, I even got angry with myself and felt so, so low. For about four days, I was a monster! I was so mad all the time.
And then yesterday, Henrietta was being really fussy. We’d had to go to town earlier that day, and she was so difficult. She didn’t want to go in her carseat–arching her back, stiffening up, twisting, kicking, throwing. I had to use a lot of effort and basically wrestled my 8 month old child just to get her in the carseat. I earned quite a few judgemental looks in the parking lot. We got home, and I was trying to feed her. She kept spitting the entire spoonful back in my face and finally I’d had it. I threw the food away, yelling at her the whole time. I told her I didn’t care if she starved or not, that I was done feeding her. That I couldn’t wait until her daddy got home because I was so over her attitude and that I wasn’t going to put up with it anymore, that she could be his baby today! I told these things to my sweet 8 month old daughter.
And then I walked into the living room where I’d left her, I see her sitting her her walker, her eyes full of tears, sucking on her bottom lip and whimpering like a dog who’d just been kicked. I listened to her poor little cry, and I felt awful. And she was crying so hard, and suddenly I felt like the worst mother in the world. I walked over to her and wiped her down, she fought me the whole time. And then I just held her, and in the most soothing voice possible, I told her how I loved her, and how she was so beautiful, and I thought about how she deserved a better person to be her mother.
She fell asleep in my arms, and I found myself desperate to just watch her sleep. As I did so, my heart broke for her. She didn’t understand why the carrots I had just given her didn’t taste as good as the peaches she’d had in her oatmeal for breakfast. She didn’t know that it isn’t polite to spit out things she doesn’t like. She didn’t know why her tummy was rumbling and hurting. She didn’t understand why Mommy was yelling at her, or what she’d done wrong–which really, was nothing. Nothing worth my reaction, at least.
I did better the rest of the day, but I still felt like the worst mother in human history. Then, I was laying in bed last night, scrolling through Facebook…I saw a video that had been shared by one of my friends. It was perfect timing, it really was. The video started out with a mother talking about all of the things she wished she could’ve done–buying name brand clothes for her children, taking them on nice vacations, even something as simple as giving them their own room. But she couldn’t–she was a single mother, she was struggling, and so she did her best, but even her best meant the three of them sharing one bedroom. She was afraid her children would want another mom, would think she wasn’t good enough, would not like her. She compared herself to all the other moms out there, and feared that her children would too. But they didn’t–her children were grown, and the things they remembered about her was the way she played with them, the fun times that they had together.
It hit home, because it was something I was going through myself. And it made me realize something: it’s okay, to not be okay. We’re mothers. We’re some of the most amazing creatures on this Earth. Not only did our bodies create, grow, nurture, and birth these beautiful little souls, but we pour every bit of ourselves into raising them up. We’re AMAZING. But you know what? We aren’t perfect. We are human. We make mistakes, we get overwhelmed, we get frustrated. Life continues to happen to us, even if we sometimes can’t handle what life throws at us. And that’s okay. It’s okay to struggle some days.
We go through life. We go through postpartum depression. We get stressed, we struggle to pay bills sometimes, we forget things, we get frustrated, we make mistakes. But we’re doing our best. We love our kids. We’ll do anything to make them safe and happy. And that’s what matters. That is what your children see.
So to the mother going through postpartum depression, holding her newborn as she rocks him to sleep and crying because she just doesn’t feel that special connection that she thought she would yet,
to the mother who is freaking out because her child rolled off the couch, hit her head, and won’t stop crying…
to the mother staring at a piece of paper with scribbled math and dates, trying to figure out how in the world to buy that extra can of formula AND pay the electric bill,
to the mother who just yelled at her child for something they didn’t deserve to be yelled at for when she was frustrated and now feels like a horrible mom,
to the mother who just gave up breastfeeding and is feeling emotional as she gives her child the first bottle of formula,
to the mother who got shamed for breastfeeding her child in public and feels the need to go home,
to the mother who had to step away from her colicky infant for a few minutes to collect herself because the cry just won’t stop,
to the mother, to the mother, to the mother….BREATHE. You’ve got this. You’re a wonderful mom. The fact that you’re upset about these things, the fact that you care, is what makes you a great mom. Because being a good mom isn’t about making sure your kids never hear a raised voice, or never have any bumps and bruises. Being a good mom isn’t about how fancy their clothes is, or how big their home is. Being a good mom means doing your best to provide for your children, to make sure they are healthy and happy, and always being there for them when they aren’t. Being a good mom is having your bad days, but always managing to keep on going and never give up, because you know you’ve got tiny eyes watching you, and tiny feet following in your footsteps. And you are a good mom, even when you don’t feel like it. All the little things you beat yourself up over–your kids won’t even remember when they’re older.
And in case your ever wondering, even on your worst days, you children still love you. They still look up to you. They still think you’re the best thing on God’s green earth. And you’re still a good mom–even when you’re not okay.