You can watch the video version of this post on my Facebook page.
Our topic today is something that’s been weighing heavy on me for a while… because I have a Facebook group of 3 thousand parents. And no surprise- it’s a Facebook parenting group- we don’t tend to share the good so much as we share the bad in them. BUT- Moms are also REALLY hard on themselves.
The other day, I was actually flipping through Instagram Stories and someone posted a little graphic that says “Friendly reminder: Doing your best does not mean working yourself to the point of a nervous breakdown.” and WHOA that hit me in the chest- because that’s EXACTLY what I feel like MANY of us have convinced ourselves of: that we aren’t good parents unless we’re burning ourselves out in our efforts with our kids.
Here’s just a quick sampling of things Moms have posted in the Parenting Posse over the last 6 months.
“Bad Mom moment when your kid is trying to play with you and you’re busy finishing his birthday party details.”
“Just noticed my daughter had bit her paci, I’m such a bad Mom. She could have choked.”
“I’m such a shit mom, I was nursing my baby and my preschooler wandered off and found a bottle of caffeine pills his Dad left laying around.”
“My kid won’t stay in bed. I’m a shit mom.”
“I’m feeling like a crap Mom, I canceled Mom and daughter Yoga today because I’m having a really hard time with anxiety.”
“My son is refusing food. I feel like such a bad Mom, where did I go wrong?”
And first off, can I just say that I am SO BLOODY PROUD that MY group lifts Moms up when they post stuff like this? Not a single shaming, tearing down, sanctimonious comment among them. Every single comment on these threads was thoughtful, gave really good personal advice, and was most importantly- supportive. So thank you Posse for being some of the most amazing women I know on planet earth because there are very few places where a Mom can share something like that and not be torn to pieces.
But my main reason I want to talk about this is something Ali said during our Q&A call for the Keeping Calm class on Wednesday. And I can’t remember the exact wording but the gist of it was that we need to work on recognizing what we CAN and CANNOT control, and start letting go of the guilt and shame we feel over not being able to control EVERYTHING.
So let’s talk about things that Shit Moms don’t do:
- Shit Moms don’t reach out to experts and look for resources when they’re having a tough time. Shit Moms don’t alter their behavior or try something new even when given a very compelling reason to by someone who has more experience in that area than they do.
- Shit Moms don’t put their kids first. They don’t rearrange their hair appointment 5 times because kids stuff keeps coming up. They don’t rationalize themselves out of spending money on themselves ALL THE TIME because that money would be “better used for something like putting little Johnny in soccer” or “buying your spouse fishing gear.”
- Shit Moms don’t blame themselves when their child misbehaves. They never ever take on that emotional burden. They never consider how their actions may have affected their child- whether that was on purpose or not!
- Shit Moms don’t give their children freedom and independence. They are on top of their children every moment of every day and if their child so much as puts a pinky finger out of line they, well, refer to my previous comment.
- Shit Moms don’t lift other Moms up. They nitpick and look for the flaws in everyone all the time. And when they find one? They jump on it like a monkey on a cupcake and tear it to shreds.
- Shit Moms don’t worry that they’re wrong. Ever. They know everything. They are 100% secure in their conviction that they are right 100% of the time and fuck anyone who tries to tell them otherwise.
- Shit Moms don’t apologize. They never say sorry after they snap, or admit to anyone that they may have crossed a line.
- Shit Moms don’t have boundaries. They have no concept of their limits. They infringe on other’s time, resources, and personal space and they feel entitled to it.
Now- before people start freaking out on me- nothing that I’m saying “Never, always, 100% of the time” a lot. That’s because Shit Moms exist in extremes. If you do it once you’re going to do it again so we either do it all the time or we NEVER do it.
Cause here’s the thing: NONE OF YOU ARE SHIT MOMs.
I know for a fact that you’re rescheduling your hair appointment even though it’s the 4th time and you’re sporting a skunk stripe that makes you feel like you’re 100 years old. Whether it’s because you’re rationalizing that $100 would be better spent on groceries or because soccer changed picture day AGAIN.
I know for a fact that you’re reaching out for resources when you’re struggling because you’re in THE PARENTING POSSE. You’re looking to connect with other Moms who’ve been there before and with ME. You are ACTIVELY SEEKING HELP.
I know for a fact that every time your child misbehaves you are BLAMING YOURSELF. You’re holding YOURSELF accountable- and maybe not even giving your child ANY blame.
I know you’re giving your children freedom and independence because sometimes that goes sideways! They’re toddlers and preschoolers! See the previous comment. You’re blaming yourself because it didn’t turn out 100% okay.
I KNOW you are lifting each other up because I see it in the Parenting Posse and in real life. The outpouring of support I received after sharing with you the struggle I’ve had with anger was UNREAL you all. I was SO SCARED that sharing that with you would discredit me and yet over EIGHTY of you reached out to thank me and say “me too.”
I know you lay awake at night worried that you’re screwing everything up- because I watch the time stamps on posts.
I know you’re not only good at maintaining boundaries for yourself, but you’re teaching your children boundaries too. You’re considerate of others- because you’re often posting to make sure you haven’t crossed a line or violated some invisible etiquette you weren’t aware of.
And I know that you’re owning up to it when you really do screw up. And you’re actively working to do better once you know better. I know, because I get emails daily from people who have used my scripts and have told me that you’ve actively apologized to your children when you realized why what you have been doing isn’t working.
AND HERE’S THE REALLY IMPORTANT PART: It’s not healthy to live at EITHER extreme.
It’s A GOOD THING to prioritize yourself and your needs sometimes. If you NEVER do, you’ll burn out. If you ALWAYS do, your kids will begin to rebel. Hang out in the middle.
It’s a GOOD THING to give your children freedom and independence- but it’s NOT to completely ignore them and not take any safety precautions. Hang out in the middle.
It’s a GOOD THING to own up to it when you fuck up, but it’s not to blame yourself for EVERY LITTLE THING- especially not things you had NO CONTROL OVER. Hang out in the middle.
It’s a GOOD THING to step out of your comfort zone and push the limits of propriety a little- but it’s NOT to feel and act entitled to other’s time, resources, and space all the time- hang out in the middle.
It’s a GOOD THING to look at the actions of others with a critical eye, but it’s NOT to shame them or do it ALL THE TIME. Hang out in the middle.
Many of us are afraid of becoming the shit Mom that we’ve convinced ourselves that if we do ANY of those things EVER- we’re a shit Mom. And it’s just. not. true. You can’t live at either extreme. Doing your best does not mean working yourself, berating yourself, taking on blame, and hovering until you have an emotional breakdown.
If you haven’t already- grab my Scripts for Managing Crazy Making Behavior below so you can start hanging out in the middle a bit more.