Why I kicked the Mom guilt and opted for Compassion

It’s 9pm and I am finally sitting on the couch after arriving home from work and preparing a meal that seemed like it should have taken 15 minutes, but ended up requiring 2 hours and every pan in the house.

I’m exhausted.

I can’t wait to kick my feet up and enjoy 30 minutes of getting lost in trash TV that requires zero brainpower.

Then suddenly I remember something. I have this little human in the room that has teeth un-brushed, toys covering the floor, and zero signs that he is interested in bed time.

Shit.

Just this once, he can just put himself to bed, I think. I absolutely cannot muster up the energy to go through the bedtime process and endure the hour long task that is ahead of me.

“Ok, tonight you are going to be a big boy and get ready for bed all by yourself”, I say.

Blank stare…

“Mom, look at my Pokemon that I traded my lunch money for”, he replies.

“Wait what so you didn’t each lunch? Ok you’re not listening, time for bed. Mom is tired and you will have to put yourself to bed tonight”. I stand firm.

“Mom, I’m not tired. Was pizza for dinner or was that a snack because I’m still hungry, I am starving, starrrrrving!”

This is not working.

Suddenly it’s like I have actual lead in my legs. There is no way I am moving from this couch. I will win this battle, I will win if it takes every last ounce of energy I have!

“You will go to bed this instant, or, or I’m taking away your leggos!”, I shout.

He starts to move, head bows, bottom lip out, and the most pronounced scowl takes shape on his face. Surprisingly no tears though. Slowly he makes his way up the stairs, making a statement with each heavy stomp, until I can no longer see his little feet.

Oh my gosh! It worked! It worked, he’s walking up the stairs.

It’s actually happening. I won!

Kicking my feet up I grab the remote and start to bask in my victory.

Until suddenly I have an acute pain.

Ahhh guilt…there you are. I knew you’d be coming.

But I’m just tired. I’m so tired. Aren’t I allowed to be tired?

And then it comes.

The flood of disappointment. “I’m a terrible Mother. It’s my fault. I’m so selfish. I deserve everything bad that comes my way!”

Yes dramatic, albeit real.

I start to walk up the stairs, no run, nothing is stopping me! I must fix this terrible thing I’ve done.

Guilt, guilt, guilt.

And then I see him. There he is, snuggled with his dirty stuffy, with all the lights on, totally asleep.

 

“I should wake him up”, I say. “Yes, that is exactly what I’ll do, wake him up and we can have a total do-over”.

Wait.

I take a deep breath. Remembering a story I had watched earlier that day on TV about a Mother who left her kid in the grocery store. I’m not that bad at least.

Slowly walking up to my son, I kiss his head. “Sweet dreams”, I whisper.

Walking out of the room, I start to feel sorry for myself. I just experienced more emotions in 15 minutes than most experience in a day.

But, it will be ok. It will all be ok. That voice of reason starts to enter.

I think about the words of the wise teacher who taught a yoga class I attended earlier that week.

“Practice compassion. Let yourself feel totally engulfed in your emotions and then give yourself a freaking break”. Good wisdom here.

And then I think about it more. Why is it as Mother’s we don’t give ourselves credit?

We get the kids to school, make their lunches, keep track of their calendars, buy their clothes, email their teachers, read them books, take them to the park, teach them to be kind, teach them what’s right, and the list goes on and on and on.

Yet, the moment we fall short, it’s as if our livelihood of being a Mother is completely crushed.

Maybe you know that one Mom in your life who has it all together. Who annoyingly always has the energy to put her kids to bed…every single night.

But most of us don’t. And the truth is, it really IS ok.

And guilt. How do we get past the guilt?

Remember that annoying pain that seems to hit you HARD? Yeah, that fun feeling.

Well I know how I get past it. Besides occasionally crying myself to sleep or in some cases asking for forgiveness, I ask myself…

“Are my expectations realistic?”

Did I really think my 6 year old would put himself to sleep so I could enjoy my own personal time?

Did I really think that he should be aware enough to recognize when I need time alone?

And even if I wish for that, can I somehow make that a reality?

Am I setting enough time aside to check in with myself before reaching that point?

The truth is, most of us Mothers can’t even think about not being able to keep it all together. We should be able to work, and cook, and clean, and take care of the kids, and bills, and ALL of the many things we want and need to control. Right?

And what we don’t realize is that Motherhood is so much more than the box we put it in. Yes it is about doing a lot of the things that we see as our duties. But it is also about reaching our highest potential as individuals. And THEN feeling empowered through Motherhood.

Think about Yoga. One of the things I love so much about yoga is how similar it is to Motherhood. It takes you on this journey whether you like it or not, with little room for pride and negative talk.

When I first started practicing yoga, I was SO out of my element. I’ll never forget the feeling I had in my first class. I looked around the room thinking “these people have lost their damn minds”. Yet I still wanted to be a part of it.

As I started to attend classes more regularly, my goal was to be perfect. I wanted the perfect alignment, the perfect half push up, the perfect down dog; this was something I could control and perfect.

The person next to me motivated me to keep up, and the person on their head motivated me to be awesome!

Well guess what?

It didn’t take long to realize that this perfect practice I sought out, didn’t actually exist. Turns out my pride was crushed almost as soon as I entered the room most days.

I have eventually learned to land a headstand, and find the “correct” alignment in my postures. But these days are few and far between.

I have learned that yes, sometimes I can keep up with the flow of class, hold a 2 minute plank, and find stillness in shavasana. But many days, I can barely hold down dog, and child’s pose is where I need to be; because I simply just can’t do anything else in that moment.

And guess what? Any yoga teacher will tell you, that’s OK! That’s where you need to be.

Be compassionate with yourself. Let yourself have those days where you just can’t do ALL of the things you think you need to because you’re a Mom.

Your kids will be ok. You will be ok.

And actually you will be better than ok.

You will be better for it.

Think about how often you practice compassion for other people. In fact, as a Mama you practice compassion all day long. And listen, the fact that you can actually leak your own breast-milk from hearing another baby’s cry drives that point home!

It’s pretty easy to continually judge and criticize ourselves. Of course we have all heard the saying “you are your own worst critic”.

But being compassionate with ourselves; it might as well be a foreign concept. This is the human condition.

If you can start to take a balanced approach, by setting realistic expectations, and by staying warm through your own failures and feelings of inadequacy, imagine how far you could go.

Today, ask yourself…

“Am I ok with failure?”

“May I be kind to myself in this moment?”

And then answer…

Yes! Failure is a part of life”

I can practice the same kindness with myself as I would anyone else”

At the end of the day life will happen as it’s meant to. By being open and kind to yourself, you will only open up room to practice the same with others.

Love,

Your practicing compassionate fellow Mom

Rachel