Sometimes, when I'm stuck in my head, running through all of the to-do's and should've dones, I fall into this space of thinking I am the only one. Does that ever happen to you? Do you ever fall into the "Why me?"s... the "Why does this ALWAYS happen TO ME?".... or "Why am I ALWAYS the ONE dealing with this?"... or "Why do I ALWAYS feel this way?"... or "Why does EVERYTHING go to hell on MY watch?"... or "Why do I ALWAYS have to do ALL this?" ... or "Why CAN"T I do ALL this?"... or "What is WRONG with me? Why CAN"T I EVER keep up?" or any other isolating thoughts that make it seem like you are the only one teetering on the edge of sanity?
It's a tough place to be. Feeling like there's so much to do that you can't possibly keep up with it all but you MUST keep up with it all because the roles that you have in your life demand that this is what you do! This is how the brain works. We have expectations. We expect that certain roles mean certain things before we get there and then when we get to them, we expect ourselves to keep up with all of it. This goes for any role, but one particular role that really floored me in my life (and continues to do so from time to time) is that of mother.
We all have ideas of what a mother (or any other role) is supposed to do and how a mother (or any other role) is supposed to be. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed within days of my son's birth! Struggling to juggle my own needs as a type-1 diabetic nursing mother (which comes with lots of dangerously low sugar fluctuations) with the needs of a colicy infant, was enough for me to feel like a failure from the get-go. When the baby was crying to nurse and I knew that I needed to bring my own blood sugar up first, I ignored it because I thought that's what a mother was supposed to do... put the baby first! And I learned rather quickly that doing so would end with a screaming baby and me incapacitated on the floor unable to care for either of us! I'd like to say I got right up and broke through that expectation, but I didn't. In fact, it's one I still struggle with from time to time... I'm a work in progress... just like you.
When I think of all of the times as a mother I have questioned myself... all of the times I have doubted myself... it's really not something I am proud of. But it needs to be shared. So many times I've thought I was the only one who didn't have it all together... the only one who missed the soccer game, the only one who didn't pack the lunch, the only one who missed a bill, or fought with her husband, or forgot a doctor's appointment, or tripped her own kid in the hall, or who accidentally lost her temper and yelled! So many times I have thought that I was the ONLY ONE struggling! I've thought that I was the only one who couldn't fill those giant-mother-expectation shoes nice and snug...
As a kid, we often view our mothers as doing no wrong, as being the perfect embodiment of love. As an adult, it's often hard to meet the expectation of those sugar-coated memories we've built. As a child, we never saw the whole picture. I'm not sure that my mother was ever completely frantic, but I am sure that she had her moments! (Feel free to validate that in a comment below, Mom)
There is nothing more important than recognizing you are not alone. No matter what role we may be talking about, there have been others before you. There are others with you right now! Whether you are dealing with food allergies, healthy living, disabilities, emotional disturbances, educational entertainment, work-family balance, sleep disturbances, communication, time management, navigating divorce, grief, or just figuring out what it is that your kids like... there is someone else out there facing it, too! It may seem at times like things are stacking up against you, but when we step back and really look at it, we can acknowledge that things don't happen TO us. Things just happen. How we get through them is all up to our response.
Next time you feel like the world is against you, when you fall into the "Why me?"s, reach out and connect to someone else. Express your challenges and accept feedback. Tell your partner, or your coworkers, or your kids, or whoever else may be affected by the issue at hand! Let them know you need help! We ALL need help from time to time! It's totally OK! Let the people around you confirm that you are not alone! If you really feel like no one is there with whom you can connect and share, consider reaching out to a trusted community figure or organization. Here in PA we have 311. You can call that number for help with ANYTHING no matter how big or small, and they will point you to community resources that you probably didn't know were there!
Most importantly, remember this: YOU ARE VALUABLE. YOU ARE GROWING. YOU ARE SUPPORTED! I know that I'm in your corner! So, that's at least one for you!
And if you're a mom who knows what it feels like to hold yourself to an impossible expectation, and who at times is afraid to admit she needs help due to a perception of failure or just not being ENOUGH, I have the perfect place for you to bust out of that isolation! When You're Done Expecting: A Heartfelt Collection of Stories and Advice on Motherhood is available at the link below or using the link http://amzn.to/2Bpua7V. As a contributing author, I am honored to be part of this compilation. I have no doubt that any mother can find her fears, her challenges, her dreams, and her surmounting love within these pages! Let's face it, none of us really knows what the hell we are doing... We are ALL learning as we go. It is by sharing our journeys that we can support one another, learn from one another, and grow together as the collective we are... A collective of women loving our children as best as we can in any circumstance (not without hiccup)... a collective of MOTHERLY LOVE.
Moms and dads alike are also invited to join my FREE Facebook group, Inspired Parents' Initiative. We are a group of parents sharing resources and experience to better connect to ourselves, our families, and the joy of the parenting journey! Request to join HERE !