I remember the first time I felt like I was failing at being a mom. My son was 3 days old. We went in for his first check up and the doctor gave me the awful truth that I wasn’t enough for my son yet. “I’m so sorry mama, but I think we may have to supplement. He’s lost just a little too much weight,” she said. Supplement? No. That was not going to be an option for me and I let the doctor know it right away. After watching me break down in shame, I was comforted by hearing, “Pump as soon as you’re done nursing and feed him whatever you have pumped. You don’t need to do formula just yet.”
My husband and I went to the car and I cried the entire ride home. I told him repeatedly what a failure I was. He reassured me more times than I can count what an amazing job I was doing. Actually, I give my husband full credit for motivating me to continue breastfeeding and for getting my son and me through 14 solid months of nursing without supplementing with formula. Yet, I still felt like I was failing.
I’m beyond blessed. My son has met his milestones on time or early. He’s an equally gentle and high energy boy. He’s my light in the dark. My boy is perfect, so why does it feel like I’m failing him every day? With so many expectations given to us on social media, television, etc., it’s hard to live at anything less than the high standards of Mrs. Brady from the “Brady Brunch.” I work full time; I work out as often as I can; I’m a wife; I cook; I clean; I do it all. The truth is, I don’t know how to live my life without doing it all.
I didn’t exercise today. My son will look at me and think it’s okay to be lazy.
I made boxed mac and cheese that wasn’t organic for dinner. I’ll never be able to cook the way my mom used to and I’m sure my son is eating more than one pesticide in that apple I just cut up.
He has ANOTHER ear infection? How is that even possible? What am I doing wrong now?”
These are just a few of the things I said to myself after becoming a mom. I’ve said them more than once and I’m sure I’ll say them again. I set myself up to be so busy because I don’t know how to function any other way, but is it worth it anymore? I think of giving up something and of course then I feel like a quitter. Is there any winning in this mom thing?
When my son throws a tantrum because I wouldn’t let him climb on top of the table naked, I can’t win. I know he isn’t supposed to be up there. It’s not safe…or very sanitary for those who sit at the table. If I know I’m doing the right thing by taking him down, why do I feel like an awful mom? Why do I feel like he won’t be a good person, or be successful, or be a respectable man just because of this one tantrum?
I thought to myself recently after buying the generic brand of Honey Nut Cheerios, “I wonder how my son sees what I think of as my failures.” My son grabs my face, looks at me in my eyes, and gives me a kiss before he goes to sleep each night. He yells, “OHHH YEAH!” when he sees tacos on his plate for dinner. He hugs people when they’re sad, even if he doesn’t know them. He enjoys “reading” books and counting objects when he’s playing. My son laughs, smiles, and plays as if there are no worries in the world because to him, there are none.
The first time I felt like I was failing as a mom will always leave an impression in my mind, but so will the first time I felt like I was winning as a mom. My son doesn’t see my failures as failures. To him, he sees the apple slices as one of his favorite snacks, not a non-organic piece of fruit. When he’s sick and I feel like it’s my fault, all he wants is to lay with me. He doesn’t think anything other than the fact that mommy makes him better. I may not always feel like I’m winning, but when I look at my boy at the end of the day, I most certainly know I’m not failing completely.
My son makes me feel proud of myself and what I’m accomplishing as a mom and wife more than I ever thought imaginable. Being a mom is definitely not easy, but it’s the best job I’ve ever had and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. So if feeling overwhelmed with life makes me a more successful mom because my purpose for everything is my son, then I won’t ever quit. It’s time I focus on what my son sees when I feel like I’m failing because I know he sees so much more of me than I do in myself.
Do your kids help you feel more successful even if you feel like you’re failing at the same time? Comment below with stories of your mom wins and trials!