There's not much infuriating me more lately than the pressure our get more, have more, be more culture puts on moms. The insidious and competitive beliefs I see my mom-clients have to swim and sift through every day are unnecessary and (dare I say it) abusive.
Well, there is ONE thing infuriating me more...moms buying into these notions: "I don't work, I stay at home."
EVERY TIME I hear someone say this my face contorts and I say something to the contrary like, "OH, .....YOU WORK!"
Seriously? Where did this idea come from? Surely not from people who've ever actually stayed at home with children for days on end. [...]
Icky Mom Belief #1: I don't work, I stay at home with the kids. See response above. I know, you don't want to call it work; it doesn't require degrees and you didn't have to apply for the job. But the days I'm home with my kids require more skill, more patience, more energy, and more stamina than my days spent in my job that required multiple degrees and letters after my name. And the stakes are higher: THEY'RE MY KIDS. I've arranged my schedule to accommodate 2 days per work-week home with my small ones....so I live on both sides of the fence.
Icky Mom Belief #2: Asking for help means I'm failing or doing it wrong. Where do we get this stuff?? And since when did we demonize reaching out for support? This belief keeps us in a can't-win bind and increasingly disconnected. So icky.
Icky Mom Belief #3: I feel silly getting a babysitter to take a break because I don't work. Uhhh, yes you do. If I did my day job 12+ hours per day, with no breaks, and on little sleep...I would be a mess of a therapist. You wouldn't expect me to do such a thing, would you? Of course you wouldn't!! Because you're a mom, and it's much easier for you to have compassion for others than it is for yourself.
Would you want a surgeon to operate on you 11 hours into her shift? Would you ever hire a babysitter to work for 12 hours straight? My first thought would be, "I don't want her to hate my kids."
And they REALLY are lovely tiny people, but after 12 hours even the most Mother Theresa-esque person would be worn out from the overstimulating, non-stop, assault-of-the-senses job that is being with, and managing the care for a 6, 4 and 1-year-old alone.
And, btw, historically for our species this ALONE part is SO not considered normal. This is why it can feel SO bad.
I want what's BEST for my kids and I wouldn't want them to have to deal with a babysitter on hour 12 because they're probably not getting the best of her. And in this scenario, I don't blame or judge the babysitter at all.
So why do we expect a never-ending source of supermom abilities in ourselves??
Icky Mom Belief #4: I should be able to work myself to the max and not get crabby and be able to post sappy things on Facebook like, "My children are my EVERYTHING!" and "My 3-year-old woke me up at 3 am to tell me he loved me. #soblessed"
You want to stop yelling at your kids? You want to have respectful interactions with them? You want to adore them more? You want your house to FEEL better? You want to discipline less and laugh more? Oh...so you want to stop emotionally abusing your kids?
Then you have to stop emotionally abusing yourself first.
Nurturing and having the utmost respect for others starts with nurturing and having the utmost respect for yourself. The things I see mothers expecting out of themselves these days...it's like we have an inner slave-driver.
Most moms I know need more support. In other cultures and in other times support is/was built-in; we lived with extended family, or we lived in a village where support was EVERYWHERE. Now we have to plan for support: find it, call it, ask for it,...and sometimes even pay for it.
You deserve the kind of support that's built-in and planned for. The kind that's proactive and happens regularly, before you snap at your loved ones or reach the end of your rope.
You can't afford it? You can't not afford it. Get creative! Swap babysitting with other moms. Have a garage sale for a babysitting fund. Sell your giant house and move into a smaller one. I guarantee you your well-being is more important to your kids than the things they have.
HOW CAN I FEEL GOOD ABOUT MY BREAKS?!?!!!! This became crystal clear to me last year.
We hired an AuPair (live-in, foreign exchange nanny) after the birth of our 3rd child. It was seriously cheaper than any other alternative we could find.
She spent 40ish hours per week with the kids. Sometimes we were here, too. But on most days at 5:30 pm she was off, and she left the house. She had big breaks; whole weekends off, and often went for whole days without seeing the kids...and she was their favorite freakin' person!
"WHY??" I would ask myself. I was the one planning outings, taking them places, buying them things...she rarely did ANY of this.
But when she was with them she was REALLY with them. She would sit down and create art projects on my 2 older kids' whim, find turtles and build them habitats under our play set, and sit and rub their backs while they watched a show. At the time I had an infant who only wanted me.
What our nanny was doing wasn't extravagant or even costly, she was just giving them the best of her.
And all the government RULES and regulations about how much she could "work" set this up to succeed: no more than 45 hours per week, no more than 10 hours per day, and at least 1 break per week that was 18 consecutive hours long....and she wasn't allowed to be our maid.
Because she wasn't overworked she could truly appreciate them and all their cuteness....which becomes annoyingness for me somewhere around hour 10 sans break. And me being annoyed has everything to do with me and my well-being and nothing to do with them.
When was the last time you had an 18-hour break?? And what happens in your head when you even hear this suggested?
What still happens in my head, even with a 6-hour break, is, "Well they're MY kids. I SHOULD be with them...even though a 6-hour break sounds AMAZING. Ugh, and now I feel guilty for that 6-hour break sounding amazing. Crap."
BUT now what I have to combat this inner guilt-trip is "Yeah, they're my kids and I'll make DANG sure they get the best of me." I just had to remind myself of this as I felt a pang of guilt on the way to meet a friend for Mexican this Monday!! Girlfriend time is SO necessary for my well-being. What's necessary for yours? Tell me in the comments below.
I am not saying, "Abandon your children! Only think about yourself!" And if, like me, you're having pangs of guilt for going to dinner with a friend 1 night I highly doubt you're the abandon-the-children type.
I'm just saying, "Don't abandon you either." I wouldn't want this for my daughter when she's a mother someday, so I know I have to be a good example for her today.
Your children learn how to treat themselves by watching YOU.
SOME LOCAL RESOURCES:
I just found out about this amazing LOCAL (if you're in St. Louis) babysitter and nanny placement service (even sick care!) that does all the screening and interviewing FOR YOU. That's the worst, most time consuming part. CHECK THEM OUT!! www.TLCforkids.com
The Nest. A Stay and Play, Creative Cafe is something out of a dream....my dream specifically. It feels like they are in the heads of EVERY mother I know giving us exactly what we're yearning for. A restaurant and community center with super-yummy food and molasses lattes, play areas for the kids, hourly babysitting, membership programs, classes for moms, parents, families, and children, and many more opportunities for connection and support. I can't do it justice in this paragraph. It's SO WONDERFUL!! Check it out: www.TheNestSTL.com
Help me in my goal of changing people's minds about therapy by clicking the buttons below to share on your social media pages. MANY thanks, Mika