The truth is that ALL moms struggle with questions and doubts. This is true whether it’s your FIRST child, or in my case, the EIGHTH CHILD!
I have had times where I wasn’t sure how to handle things with the kids at various ages; there were times when I felt guilty for handling them “wrong”. Other times I felt certain that I was a failure as a mom, because all the other moms had it so together, and I was falling apart!
My kids are older now, but yesterday I was reminded of the importance of being REAL as moms – not hiding our struggles, and also not judging others for how they parent.
My daughter Ruth, first time mom to little seven-month old Tori, spent the afternoon yesterday visiting with another new Mom, and her little one. Afterwards, she posted this on her Facebook page:
Thankful for a good play date today, a.k.a. time for the mommies. It is always great to spend time with an encouraging, like minded friend. I love it that I can be real with her. We need more people like this.
HOW DO WE “KEEP IT REAL”?
1. Be honest.
It has always been very refreshing to me to have a mom open up to me about some of her struggles, and be honest. I remember the time one mom, who seemed to always be calm and collected, admitted that she got mad at her kids at times! I was SO shocked, because I just didn’t think that SHE ever got mad at her kids, or got impatient with them. Her honesty encouraged me. It let me know that it’s okay to sometimes mess up, and that it happens to the “best” of moms.
2. Find a friend who you feel free to be “real”with.
Tell your friend when you are struggling and discouraged, whether it be from fatigue or feeling like your child is driving you crazy. Friendships will get you through those hard days! I was blessed with a dear friend when we both had young ones, and were still having babies. We frequently called each other on rough days, and “compared notes”. If she was having a good day, she’d encourage me. If she was having a bad day when I was, we would encourage each other. Just knowing we weren’t alone in our struggles was encouraging.
3. Don’t come across as though you have it all together.
I don’t think that moms intentionally give that signal, but sometimes without meaning to we can come across that way. For example, if another mom is expressing something going on with one of her kids, it’s probably not real helpful to respond with, “Really? None of my kids EVER did that!”
If another mom mentions how they feel they can’t keep up with the laundry and housework, let them know you have had the same struggle! Sometimes it’s just hard to keep up with everything when you have a new little one, or several little ones. Even if you may be doing better at keeping up on things at this point in your life, let other moms know that IS something you have often struggled with.
4. Admit that sometimes (often?) you really don’t know what you are doing in your parenting!
If you’re honest, you will admit that parenting is something that kind of catches you unaware. It looks easier than it is! There are times when you do not know what to do. My philosophy is: when in doubt, fake it! The good thing about not knowing what you’re doing, is that it keeps you depending on the Lord!
5. Don’t focus totally on the negatives and the struggles.
I think it’s good and helpful to talk to other moms about the hard things that you are dealing with. But stay positive, even when it’s hard. For example, when you are looking forward to an outing with no kids,it’s fine and normal to be excited. However, don’t let yourself get to thinking how much you just need to get away from these kids, how they are annoying you, etc. You don’t want to focus on how hard it is, or how you will NEVER catch up on you sleep, etc. But it’s okay to sometimes say you’re having a hard time with it. Then move on to some ideas to help, and some positive talk.
6. Don’t have the attitude that YOUR way is the best way.
So many moms are timid about admitting that they don’t breastfeed, they started their baby on food at 3 months, their baby sleeps with them, etc. Just because YOU haven’t chosen that way, doesn’t mean their way is wrong. Each child and each family is different, so you have to choose what is best for YOUR family.
What are some ways that you can be more real, and be an encouragement to a mom who may be struggling and needs to know she’s not alone? Share some of your thoughts in the comments!
Since I mentioned Tori, it’s only fitting that I should post an up to date picture of my little sweetheart!