Motherhood is hard, isn’t it? Not only do you expend every last ounce of energy trying to do this job to the very best of your ability, but you’re also trying to navigate the millions of messages flying around about motherhood.
You hear motherhood is enough, and then you hear that you should be more than just a mom. You hear motherhood is a high and holy calling, but it’s not who you are. You teach your children that family is the most important thing, but then wonder if you’ve made it an idol.
What is the truth?
When we read or hear something that challenges our motherhood role, it cuts straight to our core. It immediately triggers that fight-or-flight response: we either rise in anger to defend our decisions to the death, or retreat to our safe little corner, lick our wounds, and soothe our hurting heart.
I work full-time outside the home. That comes with its own unique set of challenges. And I’ll be honest, I’m particularly sensitive to commentary that criticizes my choices or insinuates that I’m not as good a mother as those who stay home. I feel my blood pressure leap and I sense myself getting defensive. And I want to find refuge in my other working-mom friends who assure me that we can have it all and do it all and that I’m the very best mother that I could possibly be to my children. Hearing that feels better than hearing I am failing.
Whether you work or stay home, I’m sure you can relate. Anything that challenges our choices as mothers is felt deeply. And painfully.
So knowing that this experience is common among all mothers regardless of their journey, I’d like to propose something – the idea that in those painful moments that challenge us as mothers, there is something of value. It is a grain of truth.
And sometimes, the truth hurts.
But we’ll never recognize that teeny particle of truth if all we do is dismiss the thought, retreat after a challenging moment, and surround ourselves with messages that feel good to our mama-soul. Instead, we need to stay there in those challenging moments. Hang out a bit, honor the discomfort, and identify exactly why that challenge makes us uncomfortable.
Perhaps it’s because the notion was completely off base and we’re just frustrated with the perpetuation of ill-informed motherhood stereotypes.
But perhaps it’s because it’s touching a tender spot inside of us that we already know needs to be acknowledged but we hadn’t had the courage to admit or thoroughly explore.
Yes, I work full-time but no, I don’t love my kids any less than any other mother does.
You’re right, I don’t spend as much time with my kids as I should. Maybe I need to figure out how to give my kids more undivided attention.
Yes, my house IS messy and I admit that I could probably spend less time watching TV and more time cleaning.
No, I’m not lazy. My house is not tidy because I was busy playing with my kids today.
Yes, I could find ways to slower the pace of life around here to spend more time with my husband. Busy does not always equal better.
It’s true, perhaps I discipline more out of anger and frustration than out of love.
No, after thinking about it I really don’t feel called in this moment to take on any more things than I’m already doing.
Yes, you’re right – I DO feel like we’re insulated and I want to be more involved with serving others, but I’m not sure how.
My child is struggling with behavior and yes, I could probably be more consistent in the way I deal with it.
After weighing it, no, I’m really not concerned about my child’s behavior.
Growth rarely comes without pain. Without discomfort. And here at allmomdoes, we want to encourage you. But we also want to challenge you. Because none of our parenting journeys are – or ever will be – the same. We don’t know what’s best for you and your kids.
But you do.
Unless you let yourself live in those moments of discomfort and really reflect on that small voice inside yourself, you might miss those opportunities for growth. This isn’t about mom-guilt and trying to match the façade everyone else seems to put on.
It’s about helping each other to be better.
Not perfect, not more, not the best.
Have you ever felt like retreating in a painful motherhood moment but instead turned it into an opportunity for growth? Tell us about it!