Stop should-ing all over yourself

There is a word for the process of becoming a mother; psychologists call it “matrescence.” It’s a complete shift in our whole being: emotionally, hormonally, physically, and mentally.

It would be swell if we were prepared for this in the same way we are prepared for the physical process of birthing a human...but the reality is that somewhere along this journey many of us struggle with losing who we were before kids, discovering the kind of parents we want to be, and finding a new balance in our lives between parenting and “self-ing.” Mama-centric IG accounts (yep, even ours) and influencers will tell you that a whole mom is a happy mom and remind you to connect with the things that you loved before you became a parent. Self-care is important, remember? Take a bubble bath, make a vision board, read a non-board book. It all sounds so delightfully easy to fix. Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. Yeah f#*king right.

The thing is, we’re supposed to be doing it all.

It’s the worst catch-22 in the world: well-meaning mom blogs that encourage us to prioritize ourselves and indulge in self-care ALSO implore us, in almost the same breath, to spend more time with our children

They are only little for so long, all the viral videos say—chores can wait; our littles won’t always need us and we should soak up these moments. We still are supposed to have clean houses, though, and sexually satisfied partners, and Montessori playrooms and wooden toys and tech-free family time and home-cooked organic meals and curated Instamommy accounts and wait were we supposed to be taking Me Time?

Here’s a radical thought:  “supposed to” is a load of hoo-hah. Striving for perfection may be well-intentioned, but the “ideal mother” is a myth and trying to be one only sets you up for guilt and self-doubt. It isn’t reality, and worse, it’s lonely as hell. If you want to make any kind of resolution as this year comes to a close, then let it be this: “I resolve to be good enough.”

You might worry that “good enough” is tantamount to “failure” because it sounds like you’re settling. And guess what? You are. 

You are settling for the fact that you are human and that motherhood is hard AF. 

You are settling for failing sometimes. 

You are settling for the love you have for your babies being enough to guide you in moments of decision, to trust in it, to know that that love is what keeps them fed, clothed, clean-ish, and psychologically secure. Good enough is healthy. 

Stop “should-ing” all over yourself.

If you adopt the mantra of “good enough,” if you let yourself be more self-forgiving and allow room for mistakes, you teach the little humans in your life that being compassionate and authentic is way better than trying to be perfect. You let them see a whole mama, one who isn’t self-depriving and who knows when to set boundaries and who gives love so abundant it seems impossible...including to herself. You also might just find you have the mental and emotional space for one chapter of that novel, or a (short) bubble bath, or even just peeing without an audience.

Is all this easier said than done? Duh. If you were perfect at imperfection, well…we would be confused by you.

The reality is that losing ourselves to motherhood is somewhat inevitable…but it doesn’t mean we have lost our selves. It means motherhood is now an all-encompassing and inextricable part of who we are. We will never be the people we were before kids, and we need to find a way to be okay with that. To embrace it, even.

So yeah…maybe we are reminding you that the best mom is a mom who makes space for herself, and encouraging you to make that vision board or take up knitting. But if you can’t do those things right now, we also want to tell you that you are still doing an amazing job because you are doing the best you can. 

We bet you know where all of your kids are right now, and we bet they all have full tummies and clean diapers and are probably throwing their dinner at the cat. We bet you love the crap out of them even when you have to lock yourself in the bathroom for solitude or cry in your car before school pickup or use dry shampoo for the who-knows-at-this-point day in a row. You are already doing the thing, without the weight of “supposed to” or “should,” or any other unreachable resolutions. You are a “good enough” mom and that, mama, is perfect.

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