You can’t hear my heart racing right now as I even attempt to write about this topic. Part of me wants to push delete before the potential backlash that might come by talking about this and being honest with you about how I really feel about this topic. Please understand that I love being a mom to my boys. Yes, motherhood is by far the HARDEST thing I’ve ever done and I have much angst about being the best mom I can be to help my boys become the very best men they can be…BUT those boys are my world and bringing them into this world has been my greatest honor. The problem, I think, most parents have is reconciling who they were before kids and who they are after kids.
Allow me to explain.
Motherhood can be an incredibly tricky topic. And my story, as a mom, is no less difficult to talk about. As a multi-faceted person, I fill so many roles on a daily basis. While my kids are a huge part of my world (and of course, I love them more than anything), it has been a constant struggle to reconcile my guilt as a mother with having other interests, running a business and growing as a person outside of being a mother.
It’s taken a long time to finally come to terms with the reality that while mom guilt is a very real thing, but it does not (and should not!) take away from other aspects of my life. The fact is that I do receive fulfillment from so many other areas of my life – my work, my hobbies, my community, etc. Let’s face it – moms aren’t just moms. We are people too!
Women have it tough in some ways. And not just in the glass ceiling sense. Once you become a mother, it feels like there is this expectation that being a mom should become your WHOLE life, and somehow admitting that it doesn’t fill your glass 100% is sinful in a way. The idea that motherhood should consume all of your time, energy and focus every minute of the day. Now don’t get me wrong, as I said my two boys are truly my world. And I work hard every day to raise them to the best of my ability. To make sure they grow up into productive, healthy, happy individuals. But I have finally realized that being a mother does not define all of who I am. I am more than just a mother. I am a wife, a daughter, a friend, a business owner, an entrepreneur, and I have a whole list of interests that define me outside of being a mother. And I’m okay with that. Even if the mom guilt rises here and there… There is just something inside of me that just won’t STOP. And believe me, I have tried!
I have tried being still, present and totally enveloped in my role as a parent but there is this insatiable energy inside me to do more. I want to help, to give, to provide, to create, to explore, to put forth my talents into the world. I want to help my family and I want to help anyone who is reading this who is struggling to find their way, their voice, their clear path. I see you and I hear you. I want to help my friends, my employees, my followers, my clients, my Sunday School youth, myself.
The common expectation is that we spend time with our kids 24/7. That we have to choose between our hopes, dreams, careers, and interests OR our children. That we are somehow “bad moms” if our entire day doesn’t involve our kids. I will say personally, I ALWAYS have the question in the back of my head, “Should I be spending more time with them?” when I’m doing other things. It can feel like a lose-lose situation for everyone. Do I believe that women shouldn’t have to feel this “mom guilt”? Absolutely! But that doesn’t mean that it’s not there.
And another thing- having it all is definitely a myth. Something always has to give when you have a lot on your plate. I try to shoot for a balanced life as much as possible by focusing on my top priorities for each day. And as a parent, it’s so important to find that balance in your day. Here’s how I attempt to juggle work, parenting and my daily obligations:
Rework Your Expectations
The truth is, I don’t believe women have to give up their dreams or identity just because they have kids. For me, it’s always a balancing act. I do the very best I can as a parent but I also nurture other areas of my life. I love my work, my friends, my hobbies. All of these other interests add up to create me, a well-rounded person. So part of unraveling others’ expectations of you starts with reworking your own expectations. If you believe that you can’t have a life outside your kids, then maybe it’s time to rethink that idea and instead, consider ways that you can.
That said, I constantly think about my two boys when I’m not with them. And it doesn’t help when society and the media promote the expectation of being “the perfect mom”. I think a lot of guilt comes from the comparison to other moms who seem to be “doing it better” or “doing it the right way”. As I said earlier, I am not a crafty mom or musically inclined. Trust me, even with the Iglesias maiden name, I am no singer! Those just aren’t my talents as a mom. But that’s okay.
So let’s not mom shame parenting that is different from our own. Let’s support, inspire and lift each other up, regardless of what our parenting style is. I think this kind of support and cheering on is so needed in the parental community and helps inspire all of us to not only be better moms but better people.
Words of Wisdom: Your Mom Approach, Your Way
Ultimately, you know what works best for you and your family. Sometimes, you just need to have the confidence to listen to your gut as a mom. I also recommend you surround yourself with people who build you up and support you as a person. And build yourself up, too. If that means saying positive affirmations when you wake up or going to the gym each day at 5 am like I do because there just isn’t enough time anywhere else in the day, then go out and do it! Find whatever motivates and encourages you, and do it every day.
If I could leave you with my top pieces of advice for crushing motherhood and your passions, it would be this:
- Don’t do it all. Don’t be a hero – Seek the support that you need! If you can afford it, childcare, housekeeping and even a virtual assistant (for appointment setting, goal reaching and knocking things off your to-do list) can be life-saving.
- You should ask for help – If you have family or friends nearby willing to help, by all means, take advantage of this support! Don’t feel bad about receiving the help you need. Your family and friends are offering help because they care about you. As they say, “It takes a village…”. My boys have flourished with the care from a village of people who love them, just like I did when I was growing up.
- Outsource, outsource and keep it simple – Again, don’t be a hero. Don’t let mom guilt make you feel like you have to make your kid’s clothes from scratch or turn your home into a Pinterest ad. I certainly don’t! I’m just not a crafty person (more power to you, if you are). However, I am happy to buy my kids’ school supplies, healthy and nutritious foods and anything else that they need. If you like to cook or prepare things from scratch, that’s great! But for anyone who doesn’t, think about what your likes or dislikes are and optimize them. I would rather you do what comes most natural to you and outsource the areas that you struggle with if doing so protects you from burn out or feeling bad about yourself as a parent. As I say, “Set yourself up for success, not failure even when it comes to your role in the home.”
- When you have them, make it quality time – When you spend time with your kids, make it real quality time. Unplug your phones or devices, find an activity or fun place to visit and really enjoy your kids. The power is in the transitions! Take a minute or two in your car in the driveway before you walk in as supermom. Take a breath between the hats you wear so you can make that transition fully and not just be physically there for your kids but also mentally present.
- It takes two – Your partner is in this too! They’re just as much a parent as you are. Don’t be afraid to delegate duties or have an open conversation about what you both want, so everyone is happy. Watching my husband support and help me has made me love him more but there were many years where I did not express my feelings of inadequacy. Inadequacy because I couldn’t get all of it done. Now, Scott is the one doing the boys’ lunch boxes in the morning so I can get ready for my client meetings in the morning. And at night, Scott is helping the boys get ready for bed while I do the dishes. No matter how you divide the duties, be honest with your partner about what you can and can’t do (and what you like or don’t like doing!). At the end of the day, I would rather ask my boys to help their mom in the areas I enjoy most and bond that way instead of taking on a task that I dislike in a bad mood and have little patience with them when they ask to pitch in.
- And, finally. Go easy on yourself – You ARE a great parent, regardless of what your parental approach is. And yes, you should say that positive affirmation to yourself on the regular!
What do you think, fellow boss-moms? Have you experienced mom guilt or even mom shaming? What defines you outside of motherhood? Let me know over on Instagram @themodernmami!
All the best to all you supermoms out there.