You’ve likely experienced or heard that women are taking on the majority of not only the physical responsibilities of managing a family and a household, but also the emotional or mental workload that is associated with that. It’s no wonder people like Bunmi Laditan, author of “Confessions of a Domestic Failure“, are able to so accurately describe what it means to be a mom in today’s age and why we are literally bat-shit crazy! Just take a look at one of her posts about the demands placed on us as parents and you’ll go crazy just thinking about it.
In fact, I used to be that mom that she describes in her Facebook post. Over the years, I have been doing a lot of personal development and growth on how to be a better mom which involves things like being more present with my children, spending more quality time with them and ensuring they have the right balance of playtime, downtime and worktime (sports/school etc). It also means honouring my sanity and not feeling pressured to “keep up with the Joneses”
It’s easy to get caught up in other people’s lives with our own desire to be like them or have what they have, but we have to remember that we are all walking our own path and though their yard may look more green from this side of the fence, perception is everything. What you may not see is that they just dug out a big trench in their yard, fitted pipes, connected to the sewer, blasted through rock, broke a window in the process, got into an argument or 2 with their SO, and spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars and weeks of labour to get it looking lush and green after filling that hole, planting seeds and watering it! When we are focused on other people’s achievements we rarely see or remember the struggle they went through to reach the desired outcome, we only see the finished product. The grass is greener where you water it. Don’t compare yourself to others because you will never know the path they’ve travelled to get to where they are.
These are some of the lessons I’ve learned over the years as I’ve worked on becoming a better mother and some of the lessons I try to impart on my children when they come home telling me that “Everybody has one” or “Everyone else watches that TV show”. I try to remember that they aren’t everybody or everyone else. They are their own unique person with their own unique needs and I am the best person to identify and decide what that looks like for my children.
I have come a long way from that crazy mom that Bunmi describes, I remember when my oldest, now 11, was just 2 years old. I was already planning which organized sports and activities to register her for. One year, I went so far as scheduling 3 different activities on the same day only to realize how utterly exhausted, not only she was, but I was for having to transport her and cheer her on at each of these activities.
One time when she was in Grade 1, she came home telling me about a situation in which a friend of hers told her another girl would punch her if she didn’t buy that girl something at the book fair! I approached the parent of the friend to discuss the situation, since I had no context behind it. Was the friend warning her? Was the friend bullying her? And as a result of my intervention with that situation, I quickly learned that my role was to help my daughter overcome these tough situations and not to do it for her. To help her have a voice to ask questions and to demand answers.
After a decade of going crazy trying to be the perfect mom, I’ve decided to slow my roll with the second kid. My first child had no sugar, juice, junk food, processed food, etc. before she was 2 years old. I wanted her to grow up loving fruit and veggies and make healthy choices and she does, she barely consumes or even asks for candy or sugary treats. She can’t finish an ice cream if her life depended on it. I would consider my efforts successful. But at what expense? I was a stressed out, busy mom who was focused more on the things than on the relationship with her. With my second child, by 8 months she had her first ice cream, French fry and taste of sugar. Juice, why not! My goal this time around is to be more relaxed and simply keep her alive. And you know what? My sanity is so much healthier as a result and so is our relationship so far! Don’t sweat the small stuff and the rest will take care of itself!