I am sitting on my playroom floor with my 16-month-old son when my 4-year-old daughter walks in with an iPad and asks me to download a new app. My response is, “No, sweetie, that’s not a good app for you.” The tears and drama begin, and my heart starts racing. Am I going to stick to my guns? I am exhausted, in every way — emotionally, physically, spiritually.
Then the baby cracks me in the face with a toy stethoscope. He did not hit me on purpose, but I respond as if he did. I grab him and roughly (probably too roughly) sit him on the floor three feet from me to give myself a moment to take a deep breath.
My daughter is hysterical because the baby is crying and she did not get her way with the iPad. Trying to keep my composure, and knowing I cannot deal with a meltdown from her, I start to download the app. She yells, “Give me iPad, NOW!” I firmly tell her I am trying to help her and she cannot talk to mommy like that. The baby is still crying and throws himself into my lap, trying to get my attention and upsetting my daughter even more.
Then my husband walks in. Hearing the commotion, he tells me to do my Target run now so I can get out of the house. I burst into tears and snap back.
“I want to walk out of this house and never come back.”
I did not mean it. Obviously, I would never leave my family. I love my kids and I am crazy in love with my husband. But I am burned out. I am totally overwhelmed. I am sick of parenting every moment of the day. It was not just this situation, this time. It was similar situations, a hundred times a week, that had put me over the top.
And then there’s the “mom guilt” I am so tired of. I feel guilty I don’t play with my kids enough, guilty they have too much screen time, guilty I made them chicken fingers twice in the last week for dinner and a frozen pizza once. I just want five minutes of not being needed. I want to go to the bathroom without an audience. And then I feel awful that I have mom guilt. It’s so confusing and raw, and overwhelming.
So I did go on my Target run, and I cried the whole 10-minute drive. I felt terrible about what I’d said and about my parenting. Then I looked in the rearview mirror and saw the pain in my face.
And I decided: NO MORE.
I snapped a selfie to remind myself that this was the last time. The last time I would cry over my “mom guilt.” The last time I would ever cry because I felt like a bad mom. The last time I would let a single bad parenting choice crush my spirit. The mom guilt is always going to be there — and the tough days, too. I am accepting my imperfect self and giving myself more grace. I came home from Target and felt like I was able to truly let it go, and I had a great afternoon playing with my kids.
Parenting is HARD. Like, really hard. I am not a perfect mom, but I truly believe I am a great mom. It is time to reinstate the positive self talk. Say it with me, mamas!
“I am an incredible mom. I am compassionate, patient, and loving. I am dedicated, determined, and decisive. I am strong and steadfast. I am the foundation of my family, and I love myself.”
Dearest fellow moms, you are not alone.