Moms put themselves last.
Moms do everything for their kids, their families, and nothing for themselves.
Moms don’t have any needs of their own.
Moms run on empty and totally kick ass doing it…
… That is until they don’t.
Moms are superheroes. That is the image that we perpetuate. Moms are these beings who can somehow get no sleep and still be fit, feed their families healthy meals, care for kids (and sometimes pets), clean the house, do the laundry, run the errands, look pretty, and stay sane all at the same time. They can drain themselves, run on fumes, and not even blink. We give them a title like “superwoman” thinking we are giving the highest of compliments. But what if we’re not?
In today’s society we are no longer keeping up with the Joneses. We are keeping up with the Joneses, and the Williams down the street, and the Edwards from high school, and the Smiths across the country, and the Johnsons we’ve never even met but their house always looks spotless in every IG post so if they can do it we can too. We push, we pull, we pour. We go, go, go. We put a pressure on ourselves to be better than our best and to always impress. But at what expense?
One of the lessons I am constantly teaching clients I have worked with in my mental health jobs is that you can’t pour from an empty cup. People will “yeah yeah” you to death when you talk about this concept but never actually listen or think about what that means. Moms are the biggest culprits.
During my journey through pregnancy, I was constantly pushing myself to keep up. I didn’t want to succumb to the trials of pregnancy. Until the last two weeks came and I was broken. I was so exhausted I needed it to be over. And when it was I was overly eager to get back to myself. I was a week in and trying to clean my house spotless for newborn photos. I was waking up every 2 hours all night to feed my newborn but I didn’t want to take a nap during the day because it felt lazy. Everyone around me was telling me to relax and encouraging a nap. I had family surrounding me all willing to take my baby for an hour so I can catch some Z’s but I felt like allowing them to do that was just me passing off the responsibility of caring for my child onto them. It’s my baby. I am the mom. I should be able to do it all. I don’t need sleep right? At least that’s what I had been told for the last 9 months.
All over social media we see memes and posts about what it means to be a mom. About the schedules that only moms could handle. We are basically encouraged to ignore our own needs. You’re a mom now. You don’t have needs anymore. Having needs is selfish.
The issue with this is that our needs don’t go away. Physically the human body needs sleep to be healthy and function properly. Mentally we need a certain amount of time in the day not filled with crying. We need to reset. While the way we fulfill this need might change, we don’t stop needing. Unwinding after a rough day pre-baby may have been a couple glasses of wine and a long bath. Unwinding after a rough day with baby might be sitting in the dark like a troll eating ice cream and finally watching your Bravo show uninterrupted. But that’s okay!
Becoming a mom is naturally going to change you. It’s meant to. It’s a beautiful journey and can make you feel a sense of whole you never thought you could feel. Caring for this tiny being is incredible. BUT it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, mean you stop caring for you.
One of the best things I was told in this new mom journey was that they only way you need to judge your success for the day is by asking yourself: Is your baby alive? Are you alive? If the answer is yes, then you did it. You succeeded that day.
Some days maybe your house is covered in little fur ball tumbleweeds from your insane dog, dishes are dirty in the sink, you didn’t get to workout, and all you ate between 5am and 5pm is a half a bagel and a Sargento balanced break. Other days maybe you woke up before the baby and made coffee, got yourselves both out of the house for a workout class, went shopping, did a load of laundry, prepped dinner, AND got her to nap twice in the same day… But no matter which of those days you had, if your little one is alive at the end of it then you succeeded.
So mamas, STOP putting too much pressure on yourselves. You’re allowed to not have it all together all the time. You’re allowed to let things get to you. You’re allowed to cry. You’re allowed to feel stressed. But what you’re not allowed to do is ignore those things.
It’s too easy to suppress the whirlwind of emotions that come with motherhood. You CANNOT POUR FROM AN EMPTY CUP. If you do not take care of you, eventually you will have nothing left to give. Be proactive. If making sure that you get self-care time means scheduling it – either with your significant other, a family member, a babysitter, etc – then do it.
Moms are amazing people, if I do say so myself. But we are not superheroes. We are just people. We have needs. Remember that your needs matter just as much as the needs of your spouse, your kids, your pets, your family, your friends, your co-workers, and whoever else you have been putting before yourself. So go take 30 minutes to workout ALONE, take a long hot bath, have that glass of wine, watch your favorite show uninterrupted, go out with a friend. Hit the reset button. You will be a happier person and a better mom because of it.