I hear you, mamma. I do. You feel you’re not “good enough.” That you aren’t putting in enough effort. Your house isn’t spotless, your children yell or throw tantrums, they struggle to learn, they don’t sleep through the night. In the pursuit of ‘perfect parenthood,’ all eyes are set on the children. In truth, the act of being a good mother comes from within and begins with caring for yourself. It also involves engaging with community and allowing yourself to receive help from others when you need some loving care. This Mother’s Day recognize the good mother you are and take care of her.
You are enough.
You are not alone.
Breathe and notice your body and thoughts. The breath is perhaps the most obvious place to begin. It is the first thing we restrict when we experience stress and overwhelm. Take a moment to inhale slowly. Feel your belly as it rises, and watch the air as it flows through your body and exits your nose or mouth. Notice the flow of your breath and the quiet stillness you experience as you breathe. As your breath stills your body and your mind, notice the sensations in your body, the images you see, the feelings you experience, and your thoughts as they come and go.
Seek out coping skills you know are healthy and work for you. Activities like journaling, reading a book in a quiet spot, dancing, listening to music you enjoy, or asking for help can all be beneficial. Practice them regularly.
Step away for a minute and check in with yourself. Recognize your limitations. Pay attention to warning signs, honor the moment, and give yourself some deserved quiet time. Step away from an escalating situation to clear your mind and offer your body a chance to breathe deeply. Ask yourself, “What do I need in this moment?” Listen. You are learning as you go.
Remind yourself of the things that bring you joy and do them. Do you remember the things you once did that felt good? The activities that revitalized you and brought a boost of energy? Or pastimes where you felt a sense of peace and calm? When you remember these activities… go and do them.
Create a life for yourself outside of your children. They will know you love them by witnessing your love for yourself. A mother is one role of many roles you play. You may also be a daughter, sister, entrepreneur, neighbor, employer, or employee. Remember who you were before you had your children. You are still that person. As you pursue other areas of your life, your children will follow your lead, seek out new adventures, and discover who they are. You and your children can share your experiences so that everyone can grow and benefit from them.
Speak to yourself with the same compassion you show others. When you have a loved one who needs support, how do you talk to them? How do you support them? Imagine how you comfort someone when you are at your best. Then recall a recent time when you were in distress and remember how you talked to yourself. Do you notice a difference? Can you treat yourself with the same compassion, kindness, encouragement, and softness you do for others? Do this for yourself. You deserve compassion.
Stop pretending to have it all together. You do not see the struggles of others because they don’t show you. Stop the comparison. The little squares of immaculate homes, white couches, smiling and laughing children, trips to Disneyland, and perfectly curated outfits you see on social media do not reflect reality. Toxic positivity and overdone gratitude are real. The everyday moments of tired mamas, clothes with spit up milk, floors strewn with toys, and Cheerios on the car floor are rarely seen in the media. Mothers need a community that normalizes all the facets of motherhood. Seek out that community. You are more than a montage of perfectly curated photo squares, and there is beauty in all of it.
When you make a mistake (as we all do), admit to it. You are human and your children are human. Motherhood does not come with a manual. The amount of books you can find to try and make sense of things is endless. With every book, workshop, group, or advice column you seek out there will inevitably be mistakes. The ultimate goal is not perfection. Without mistakes you won’t have an opportunity to learn or grow. Mistakes don’t spell “disaster.” They fuel growth and are a part of the journey. When you make a mistake, remind yourself this is a part of the process. Modeling this as a parent will help you teach your child how to learn from mistakes and adopt a growth mindset.
You are human and your children are human. Motherhood does not come with a manual.
Express your emotions — all of them. This will enhance your ability to connect and care for others. We all strive to feel the emotion of happiness. But there is so much more to the human experience. Feel the vast expanse of emotions course through you. When an emotion becomes overwhelming, it can feel difficult to control. It may be challenging to put words to it, to share and explain how you feel to someone you love. As Dr. Daniel Siegel has said, it is important to, “Name it to tame it.” Notice your emotion, then name it by identifying either the emotion itself or the body sensations you feel. The goal is to have the emotion inform you of your needs and provide you with an opportunity to honor what you need. Could your emotions be signaling that you need support in the form of rest, quiet time for yourself, social time with other adults, or a conversation with a close friend to feel validated?
Happy Mother’s Day, Mama! As you celebrate this special day, renew your commitment to taking care of yourself. Nourishing yourself will help you better support those you love and can reawaken a sense of purpose and meaning in your life.
At Intuition Wellness Center, we specialize in health and wellness services for children, young adults, and their families. If you think you would like some extra support, we’re here for you.
Written by: Aecha Maria Guerrero, LMFT