Biggest thing that helps me when I’m down on myself with motherhood.

The internet is a tricky world because it is so easy to show the highlights, but what about all of the lowlights?  Occasionally, I can find a way to pop one in, but rarely do I think about getting my camera out to capture the times I am being immature or have no idea what the heck I am doing as a mom.

I had a request for a friend-to-friend on what to do when you feel like a ‘crap mom’.  I’ve been parenting for almost eleven years now, and I’ve heard so many tips on this topic.  There has been one thing that truly resonates with me, and it has changed everything about the way I look at motherhood….

I grew up in an area/culture that focused a lot on the ‘duties’ of a mother.  A lot of attention was placed on doing many of the things that I am terrible at—> cooking… I’m pretty sure Brooke ate Cafe Rio every night for the first 5 years of her life;).  Craftiness.  Being at everything/always available for my kids (divorce, working, etc), being selfless all of the time (yeah, I am going to get my run in and have time with just Andrew and my friends, ha)… And the list could go on and on.

A lot of times, I would get into bed at night thinking about all of the ways I wasn’t what I was told a mother is and/or feel guilty about everything I was doing wrong.

I came across this from Julie Hanks, and it opened my eyes to what actually matters:

Motherhood is a relationship, not a role.

Why in the world are we focusing on the tasks or personality characteristics of what we think a mother should be?  We are all so different, so why would we expect one way to be the right way?  None of those silly checklist items matter.  What matters is that there is a connection.  We get to define what good motherhood is, nobody else gets to tell us that, and I’m defining my motherhood as a relationship and forgetting all of the other stuff.

So, when the guilt kicks in about not being a good mom, I tell myself to think about how I connected with each one throughout the day.

Things like:

-Looking them in the eyes while they tell me about their day at school.

-A long hug before they left for school.

-Telling them stories about when they were a baby (my kids LOVE this).

-A walk we took together.

-A back scratch while we are watching Bluey (how is this show so funny?!) together at night.

-Telling them that I love them just the way they are.

-Remembering their favorite snack at the store and eating it with them at the counter while chatting.

-Listening to their problem and empathizing with them.

-Kicking the soccer ball around with them (even though they are all better at it than me;)

-Deep talks during a car ride to drop them off to wherever they need to be.

I don’t know if this answers the question I was asked, but I find the more I focus on the relationship I am building with the child, the better I feel about what I am doing.  If you feel like you are failing, think about something you did that day to connect, and boom… In my opinion, you are a good mom.

Focusing on ways to connect and make sure they know that they are loved throughout the day rather than what I ‘should be doing’ (stop shoulding yourself) makes me love motherhood and feel like I am doing it right.

What about you?  What do you do when you feel like you are struggling with parenthood?

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27 comments

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I REALLY love this – thanks for sharing! You’re a great mom!

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Thank you, Jane. That means a lot to me. Hope your day is a beautiful one!

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Thank you for this topic, Janae! Answers to questions I didn’t even know I had.

And yes, Bluey is hilarious. The Aussies know what’s up!

God bless

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Thank you, Allison! That means a lot. Hahah seriously… Andrew and I are shocked over how much we love Bluey. Have a wonderful day!

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Even with a 25 and 26 year old now, I can say you are spot on and it’s the relationship building parts that they both happily look back at now. Currently I am apt to give WAY too
much advice on who they are dating and I have to remember they get to live their own lives and I am the lucky, lucky person that gets the front row seat of that. I count that as my privilege and blessing everyday.

I know this post is geared to your contemporaries, Janae, but I love this post so much that I wanted to add my encouragement.

Mama, just wake up each day and be with them however you can whether it’s on the frontlines or in your heart. They will feel that love and support a million miles away.

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Belle! Thank you thank you for your sweet comment and sharing that about remembering they have their own lives to live. I think about that when my kids are faced with something hard in their lives… I remind myself that they are also a human that needs to be shaped and put things that will help them to grow. I can’t take away their opportunities for growth by trying to shield them from the hard. Those last two sentences = what we all need to hear!

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Hi!

I have been reading your blog since around 2012 and I don’t believe I’ve ever commented, not even once! I just wanted to say thank you for this post. It is so real, beautiful, and reassuring. Honestly, best blog post!

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Hayley. We have been friends for SO long. Thank you for your comment today! It means a whole lot to me. KEEP IN TOUCH… we can’t go another 11 years between chatting;)

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Thank you!! I have toddler twins and sometimes feel like everything is about logistics. What a great reminder to focus on connection today!

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TODDLER TWINS! Erin, you must be so so busy! I hope you three have a beautiful day!

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This is a great post and I’m sure it will help a lot of people. I’m constantly looking back and regretting things I did or didn’t do, and thinking about ways I could be a better mom- and I think most women feel this way. But I have a GREAT relationship with my son, and my daughter, well… I’m working hard at it, ha ha. I love this shift of focus. Thank you!

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Thank you for sharing, Jenny! Your son and daughter are the luckiest to have you. We will just keep focusing on adding to the relationship bank accounts and forget the rest of what Pinterest tells us mothers should be;). Cheering for you!

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What a beautiful, thoughtful post. Thank you!

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Oh thank you, Sarah! That means a lot. Have a beautiful day!

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Great post!

I loved how you highlight that the connecting can even be small things (kicking a soccer ball around or a car ride talk).

Honestly, I beat myself up about that sometimes… my husband and I have a great relationship but I’m much more of the hands-on parent when it comes to putting together the (ALWAYS MASSIVE) lego set, having the friends over for a playdate, taking everyone to the movies or zoo and sometimes I feel like I don’t do enough… it’s good to remind yourself that not EVERYTHING has to be some huge trip out or creative all day activity, little things count too…

I’ll share the best advice I received as a parent in return: “Put your own oxygen mask on FIRST.” i.e. when the plane is in trouble, you aren’t going to be able to think and help your kids if you don’t first take the small step for yourself. That’s extreme but it’s helped me SO much when I had guilt over things (putting the baby in the crib to take a shower for three minutes), or now going for a long run or taking time to meet up with a friend while my husband watches them… I can’t be my best as a parent if I don’t take time to do the mental and physical health things. I hope you find that helpful in return!

I see you do SO many things with your kid on your blog (cake baking contests, low-anxiety inducing splash pads, lunch dates) and I fully appreciate that your running and friend group is part of what HELPS you be a good mom.

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Arianna, I always look forward to chatting with you. Thank you for sharing your struggle and I know those feelings of never doing ‘enough’! I swear my kids actually probably want me to do less and just chill with them haha. OH that advice is KEY. We truly cannot take care of others if we are running on low and thank goodness for running to help us to do so. Hope your morning is a beautiful one!

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This is spot on!

I also like to remind myself that I was ME before I was MOM, and I don’t want to lose what made me me even as the responsibilities of Mom pile on top of that. Some may call it selfish, but that means taking care of me first and foremost, so I can then be more fully present as Mom. And in many cases that means protecting my time, energy, and sanity from things that other mothers may have deemed important to them but are not at all to me (artsy craftsy things, being at every school event that occurs during the workday, cooking every single meal, keeping a spotless house, Pinterest-worthy parties and home decor, epic weekend/day off activities, etc.).

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Oh that is such an important reminder. I have also been called selfish for that but I know it makes me better able to be there for my kids. You are doing amazing and keep in touch! Have a wonderful evening!

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Wow. Just wow! Janae, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here and introducing the idea of motherhood as a relationship, not a role. This has the wheels turning for me. In my journey as a mother I can relate to what you shared about feeling down on myself for not being “good” at certain things, but what matters the most to me is being present for my kids and their knowing that I love them unconditionally. I am going to give this some real thought, thank you!

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You are so welcome. Yes yes yes… being present and real love. Keep in touch and have a beautiful night, Laura!

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On March 6th I became a Mom of a T1 Diabetic, I have felt like at age 12 I have had to learn to parent her all over again and balance the needs of my 15 year old. Reading this today has helped. I don’t deal well with people that are rude. And dealing with someone to try to get my daughter an insulin pump sort of set me off the edge today. I maintained my cool and am proud but honestly had I been rude back I don’t think I would have felt bad either!! But definitely feel like a crap Mom lately and I truly am not. Medical parenting is rough.

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I cannot even imagine. I am so so sorry, Carrie. Sending you so much love and I hate that people have been rude to you. That is so wrong. You are doing amazing.

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I’m not a mom (yet!) but I loved this post and just want to say, you are an amazing mom and human. ❤️❤️❤️

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Wow! You have no idea how much I needed this. As a mom to 6 kids (ages 15-1) I’m constantly feeling like I’m not enough. This helped remind me that even the little moments throughout the day matter…even if I don’t have energy for the bigger moments. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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You are exactly what those 6 kids need. You are doing amazing, Nicole!

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Motherhood is a big responsibility and can feel discouraging at times. The most important thing is to remember that you are not perfect and it is normal to feel depressed.

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The NYT Connections Game presents players with a series of clues, each connected to a specific word or concept. The goal is to identify the common thread that links these clues together. Players must use their knowledge, logic, and creativity to uncover the connections and solve the puzzle.

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