“Wow, I’m the best mother ever! I’ve really got it all figured out!”
Said no mother, ever.
That’s just how it works; part of the gift of motherhood is the gift of doubt, guilt and second guessing.
And that’s where good advice comes in. The remedy for all this is good advice.
But not all advice is good, even if it has good intentions.
My personal two least favorite and least productive pieces of advice are these goodies;
“The days are long, but the years are short; before you blink they’ll be grown up, hold onto these times!”
“Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems!”
I don’t know if they’re meant as cliches or advice, but I do know what they actually are; when delivered, it’s just another form of the big bad G – GUILT – albeit with fancy wrapping paper.
Because if the years are short and I’m sitting here looking at the clock counting down to bedtime because I just need my kids to go to sleep because I am just so exhausted and I have not yet had a moment to breathe or go to the bathroom in peace in hours and hours, then I must be doing something wrong because I am not appreciating my children because, you know, they grow so quickly, even though at this exact moment, time is not moving. And so I must be the worst mother because I am not appreciating this very slow day.
Or when feeling overwhelmed and on the brink of losing it when your toddler got into the flour and someone left the kitchen sink on and at that very moment it is a very huge problem, one that takes a lot of physical energy to get under control and a lot of emotional energy not to say things you will regret; and then to have the buzz words in your head of “little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems” only adds the cherry on top of GUILT that I SHOULD be loving this very challenge because when they’re bigger, it’s going to be bigger problems. And so I must be the worst mother because to me this is a very big problem right now, and if I can barely handle this big-yet-supposedly-little problem, how will I ever handle big kid problems?!
So what’s the solution?
In all my motherhood experience, the best advice I can think of that any mom wants to hear are two words.
It’s OK to find yourself watching the clock, waiting for bedtime.
It’s OK to feel like a bowl of cereal and milk splashed across the kitchen floor as you’re rushing out the door is a big overwhelming deal.
It’s OK to feel overwhelmed.
It’s OK to feel exhausted.
It’s OK to wish for a quiet moment to go to the bathroom in peace.
It’s OK to breathe a sigh of relief when your kids are at school.
It’s OK to be excited to welcome your kids home from school and five minutes later feel as if school never happened.
It’s OK to serve cereal and milk for dinner.
It’s OK to go to sleep with a sink full of dishes.
It’s OK to feel like you are about to lose your mind when you are trying to switch the clothes from the washer to the dryer, holding the baby in one hand and with your foot trying to keep the toddler away from the dryer since he’s removing every article of clothing that you are putting in.
It’s OK for your kids to push the limits.
It’s OK for kids to spill.
It’s OK to get overwhelmed when two kids are crying at the same time and from somewhere in the house your newly toilet trained child is calling for you to come.
It’s OK to feel like the day is long.
It’s OK. That’s how it supposed to be. It’s not easy. It is challenging. It’s a labor of love.
It’s all OK.
It has nothing to do with being a good mother. As a matter of fact, the more OK you are with ALL of it, the better a mother you become. Because there’s not as much room for guilt.
All these things are OK; what’s not OK is to feel this way all day, every day. That would be a sign of something bigger that requires help.
But the biggest gift we as mothers can give ourselves, and to each other, is the gift of OK.
No cliches, just straight out.
It’s OK to run late.
It’s OK to misplace things.
It’s OK to forget to sign your kids homework.
The years might be short, but only in hindsight.
The big kids’ problems might challenge you differently, but only in retrospect.
Live in the present, embrace the challenges and be OK with it. Try it and see for yourself.