Everyone has tough days as a mother and most of us would prefer to forget and not talk about them, which makes us always believe that everyone else is coping just fine.
I recently read a book that said if you ever wanted a tour of your darkest impulses become a parent. Before I become a parent I had these ideals and great intentions like no television and no yelling at the kids. I also thought I would also never be the mother who had the screaming child at the supermarket. After having four children, I have definitely become less judgmental on motherhood. Do whatever you can do to survive – whatever works for your family, just do it.
Highs and lows of motherhood
Being a mother has been one of the most exciting, amazing but equally one of the most challenging and emotional journey I have gone through. On my ‘tough’ days, like most mothers, I have moments where I seem to be second-guessing myself, anxious that I am making the right decisions for them, hating myself on days when I don’t feel like I have spent enough or equal time with the kids, or yelling at them when I have been stressed out with work.
It is also hard not having immediate family as part of the expat lifestyle. Under normal circumstances, a granny or someone in your immediate family could just take over or share some of the responsibilities. And sometimes, we just need our immediate family to be frank and honest about our parenting skills when we ourselves lose perspective and we are sweating the small stuff.
The truth is I don’t think all those tough days will get any less. In fact, children of every age present different challenges all the way to adulthood and beyond. So how can we cope on these tough days?
The Perfect Mummy Monster
I think as mothers we need to be more forgiving towards ourselves on ‘tough’ days and to remember there are no perfect mothers out there – we just think she exists. Each of us creates our own version of the ‘Perfect Yummy Mummy Monster’ – that is one part of the problem. Just remember our children don’t need perfection, our children are more resilient than we think, and so long as they know how much we love them and have tried our best at the end of the day it is all that matters – children know it and feel it.
Step out of the zone
It is important to remember what our priorities are and to try to not be so caught up with other things that seem important at the time. We need boundaries around our families. I am getting better at it but struggle sometimes when there is too much going on. It is hard to relax when I keep thinking about the list of all the chores/work that I need to accomplish. I have realised that the list is never going away, and I can’t let myself get over tired and run down as I will be less effective in the long run. I am learning, but not always successfully, to step away for a couple of hours to re-evaluate priorities for the week; get a massage, run an errand, grab coffee outside the house – it’s amazing how time out will help you put it all back in perspective but stepping away takes some serious discipline.
So I am trying to learn that since I will never finish all the chores, I might as well slow down to spend quality time with the kids. I am learning to cherish the small moments with my children – to be in the moment and to TRY not to dwell on my parenting errors. It’s hard.
Learning about yourself
I often think that my children teach me more than I teach them. They have definitely taught me a lot about myself as a person – both my strengths and my weaknesses. It is a privilege to be on this beautiful and incredible journey with my children.
Often, what keeps me sane during these hair-raising moments is my faith. God always said that he would be our strength when we are weak – this has been so true in many moments of motherhood for me. It is impossible for me to change myself into the mother that I dreamed or hope I would become. However, only through his Grace, do I feel little changes happening that are refining my character. It is a slow process, it is a journey but my faith is my silver lining. It is comforting to know that my husband and I are not alone in raising our children. I keep praying everyday and leave it up to God to take care of the rest.