As moms, we are hard on other moms, but in truth, we tend to be even harder on ourselves. In the presence of social media and all of the pressure to be a good enough mom, we sometimes miss the forest for the trees. “I’m a bad mom because my kid gets too much screen time.” “I’m a bad mom because my kid doesn’t get organic food.” “I screamed at my kid today – mother of the year, right here.” The voice that is the loudest is the voice that tells us we suck.
Remember when grades mattered? You could come home with six A’s and one D, and what mattered to you? The D. It didn’t matter that you had exceeded the average in six other areas; all you could focus on was the place we didn’t meet expectations. We are humans. Humans mess up. We need to remember that we are not without fault in any area of life. Those who believe they are without fault are probably in denial.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being in the presence of a brilliant mom and therapist, Kate Kripke, LCSW. She presented us with this list of things a good mom knows, allowing her to thrive. Along the way, she asked us to do a few exercises. With her permission, I’ve compiled the list here. Think about these things. It’s important to note that this is a list to build on, not something to be immediately achieved. These are things to be mindful of and goals to work toward as we progress in our journey not just as mothers, but as women.
A Woman Who Thrives…
Knows some anxiety is normal for new motherhood.
Productive anxiety is good, and serves us well. It’s what helps us know when our children are sick, or to watch for cars in the road.
Unproductive anxiety is the kind that we have no control over. It’s the things that keep us awake at night or alter our everyday lives.
Our bodies do not know the difference between the two, which makes the identification of productive vs. unproductive difficult in some situations. Listen to your gut, but be mindful of the things that may be affecting your life in an unproductive way.
Is willing to be “good enough.”
Not being perfect all the time allows us to teach our children humanness, that mistakes are normal, and how important it is to learn from them.
Understands the need for self-fullness.
Taking care of herself is actually a service to her children. If she is fulfilled as a person, she will be able to give more of herself to her family.
Understands the differences between habit, instinct, and intuition, and gives herself the time and the space to listen, carefully, to determine those differences.
Our parenting styles are combinations of these three things:
Instinct – feeling we have that are not learned and natural.
Intuition – something we know without proof or evidence.
Habit – things we do based on how we were treated.
She accepts, and perhaps even prides herself on her vulnerabilities.
Vulnerable does not equal weak.
She understands the need for community and uses it well.
It really does take a village. If you have a village, make sure they know they’re appreciated.
She understands that by doing the hard work on herself now, it’s less likely that her kids will have to do work on themselves later.
We can choose some of the things we pass on to our children by taking care of the things we want to change in ourselves.
She understands the difference between guilt and regret, and chooses NOT to punish herself unnecessarily.
You can regret decisions you’ve made without succumbing to guilt over them.
Guilt: a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.
Regret: a sense of loss, disappointment, dissatisfaction, or a feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, disappointment, etc.
She learns from wolves: she understands that it’s our culture that has the problem, not her.
It is not natural to mother in isolation.
She loves herself and respects herself.
She knows that it’s ok to give herself permission to love herself, faults and all, without giving in to the label of self-absorbed or selfish. How can we teach our children to love themselves if we can’t lead by example?
Of course, this blog post hardly does her amazing presentation justice, but I was so moved by these simple things that can be so complex and layered when wrapped up with the every day that I wanted to share them.
Whether you know and do all of these or you only put a check mark next to two of them: