Hey there, mama.
Do you ever wonder why it is so hard for you to be a mom?
Everyone else seems to be doing great, right? Everyone else has their hair done and gets to playgroups every week and posts pictures of their children giggling and eating their green leafy vegetables. Everyone else’s kids sit still during the church service and refrain from crying about the color of the laces on the new shoes their moms just bought them. Everyone else knows how to braid hair and pack adorable animal-shaped lunches, and everyone else remembers to actually put diapers in their diaper bag before an outing. Right?
So why is it so hard for you?
When we see “everyone else” doing okay, we start to think there must be something wrong with us. We must each be a lazy mom. Too lazy to get the toilets scrubbed. We must be selfish moms. Too selfish to happily make (and clean up) daily glitter crafts with the toddler.
We say these things to ourselves, confess them to our friends, and we begin to believe them.
You’re Not a Lazy Mom.
One of the saddest things I hear other moms say is that they didn’t do something because they were “lazy.” I’m not talking about moms hanging around in silk robes eating bon-bons and watching soap operas while their kids terrorize the neighbors. (Doesn’t that sound like the life, though?!) These are hard-working mothers who are raising kids and running households, some working outside the home or parenting mostly alone.
These women get up in the middle of the night to soothe fevers and change wet sheets. They read labels at grocery stores, cook with crying babies clinging to their legs, and manage five different calendars of carpools, work schedules, and extracurriculars. They volunteer at church and in their communities. They read and study and constantly ask questions about how to do a better job as a parent, how to give their children exactly what they need.
And they think they are lazy!
And you think you are, too. Because tonight you didn’t get the dishes done. The house looks like it was stampeded by a parade of elephants and a daycare. Dinner was chicken nuggets from the freezer (again). And you’re still in the yoga pants you put on this morning (even though you never actually made it to the gym).
You look around at all those things, and you think you are lazy.
You’re not lazy, mama. You’re not. You’re tired. You need a break. And tonight, a long bath and a DVR’d TV show is taking priority over scrubbing the kitchen. Not because you’re lazy, but because you’re human. And the someone who has to take care of you is you.
You’re Not a Selfish Mom.
How many times have you confessed that you “feel bad” for leaving your kids with a babysitter? Or for skipping library story time because it always ends in a tantrum? Or for feeding them cereal for dinner instead of a perfect home-cooked whole-foods meal?
How many times have you shamed yourself for wishing you could have some quiet? Wishing the baby would have napped a little longer? Wishing your kids would stop climbing all over you?
When you do things for yourself, or to make things easier on yourself, that little voice in the back of your mind might whisper to you that you’re selfish.
But you’re NOT.
You’ve gave your body over to pregnancy for nine months. You read the pregnancy books and gave up the “dangerous” foods and were constantly attuned to the flutters and kicks of that tiny person you were growing. Later you willingly gave up sleep and personal space and spent money that might have gone to a romantic vacation on food and clothes and toys. Now you read, you worry, you pray, you ask for help from other moms. You study your child and hold her and kiss her. You make special meals on birthdays and sing silly songs and try to be a better person so you can show him what you want him to be. So you can teach him to be happy, and to not yell at terrible drivers someday with his own kids in his own minivan, and to be patient about spilled milk.
And in order to give all these things, you need to have something that fills you back up. You can’t draw water from an empty well. You need to have something that sparks life in you and recharges you and gives you peace and rest.
Finding Better Words
So why is it so hard for you to be a mom? It’s hard because your kids are learning. Because they’re messy. Because they’re needy. Because you love them like you never thought you could love. Because it hurts you when they hurt.
It’s hard for a thousand reasons, mama, but it’s not because you are lazy or selfish.
So your challenge for today, is to choose better words than “lazy mom” or “selfish mom” by acknowledging your priorities. When you see or do one of those normal, everyday things that usually gives you mommy-guilt, think about what you prioritized instead.
Here are the things I prioritized today:
- My hair is unwashed, slicked back (gross) and thrown up in a super ugly ponytail thing (not even a real ponytail, just a tangle of hair tied up) NOT because I’m lazy, but because I prioritized a little extra sleep and then getting downstairs for breakfast with my 6-year-old before she left for school over doing a darling little dutch braid.
- There are dirty dishes on my kitchen counter NOT because I’m lazy and selfish, but because I prioritized doing something that will make me a happier mama for the rest of the day (writing you this blog post!) during my kids’ nap time instead of cleaning the kitchen.
- I send my kiddos to their rooms for daily “quiet time” (whether they nap or not, they play solo in their rooms for the length of a regular nap) every day NOT because I’m selfish, but because I prioritize our spending time apart to allow me to me rest and regroup and to allow them time to get bored so they can learn to play independently and be creative.
Look around at your house, yourself, and your kids. What things do you see that you would usually apologize for or feel ashamed of? What positive, restful, loving, or sustaining things did you prioritize instead?
Let me say it again, mama. You’re not lazy. You’re not selfish. If my best is going to be enough–and its going to have to be, because its all I’ve got!–then yours is, too.
We’re in this together, and I’ve got your back.
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