Giving ourselves grace as moms is not easy. We are somehow wired to think we can and should do it all. I used to envision homemade family dinners, seamless bedtime routines, and picture-perfect children. The moms I followed on social media made it look so fun and easy. This was my hope for motherhood. God sure does have a sense of humor, doesn’t He? I had a plan mapped out in my mind for my life, actually. That was, until, I actually stepped into the position of Motherhood.
My first son spoiled us and had me thinking this mom gig was a piece of cake (see, God has a sense of humor!). He instantly took to breastfeeding, slept through the night after the first few weeks, was easy going and always so pleasant. He was such a rule follower and would cry if you looked at him the wrong way, so needless to say disciplining him was a breeze for the most part. It was easier for me to TRY and keep up with the social media moms, but I would often find myself second-guessing how I parented. I would compare myself to what I saw as the reality of my friends and Instagram feed. “I didn’t make homemade baby food this week…”, “I had him watching too much TV today…” “We didn’t do any crafts this week…” and enter: guilt. Shame, anxiety, and worry would often start to creep in. I would even take myself off of social media altogether when I felt it consuming too much of my thoughts. I didn’t give myself enough grace then but didn’t think I needed to at the time. I had to try to keep up; to keep trying to keep up with what I thought was expected.
We found out we were expecting another boy and we couldn’t wait. We knew all the right things to do, just as we had done with our first son. “This should be easy, right?” That’s what we told ourselves! Oh boy, were we wrong. Our youngest (now 2 years old) struggled with allergies right off the bat, leaving me unable to breastfeed for as long as I had planned and hoped. Discovering he was allergic to both milk and peanuts, another layer of stress was added to my plate. He had eczema that we found impossible to keep under control. He would scratch uncontrollably, making sleep almost impossible at times. He was, and is, a strong-willed little guy who often times does not know how to deal with his emotions. Imagine my reaction picking him up from daycare only to hear that my kid is “The Biter”?! He would (and still does at times) slap, hit, scratch, & head-butt, sometimes all in the same breath. His full-blown tantrums are something fierce. I was at a loss. “What did I do wrong?” “How did he get to be like this?” “I can’t ever do anything right.” “What are other people thinking?” “I’m an awful mom.” I thought these things over and over. I needed grace more than ever before. I couldn’t try and act, look, or feel like I could do it all without going crazy…ask my husband.
I felt constant anxiety, feelings of judgment, comparison, and shame day after day. It took a while for me to grasp the concept of giving myself and my family full-blown grace. It took about 5 years, and I’m still in the process of giving myself grace throughout my days. I actually struggled with giving grace this morning as my 2-year-old was throwing a tantrum, pulling my hair and scratching my face to boot–talk about slapping my old thoughts of picture-perfect motherhood in the face! I started to step back, take deep breaths, and think: is my world going to end because of these vegetables that aren’t being eaten? Will my day go on after bath time came, was an absolute disaster and went (kids unbathed and all). Yes, the days will go on and tomorrow will be another day. Another day to choose to look at imperfections as perfect opportunities to handle things with grace. I’ll tell you what–it’s a heck of a lot easier to let yourself receive grace. When I did, my anxieties, shameful thoughts, comparisons–all of that, began to fade.
I think all of us, moms or not, need to give ourselves and those in our lives grace more often than not. We are all just trying to do our best. We cannot be perfect, and we will never measure up to what Pinterest *pins* to be the gold standard. Give yourself the grace to go workout and not feel like you are letting your kids or husband down. Give grace when you skip a workout to go home and put on your cozy sweats and have a glass of wine. Give grace when your kids end up eating only Goldfish for dinner. Give grace when you feel like you can’t keep up with the demands of laundry, work, dishes, meals…I’ve actually walked past the kitchen sink when it is full, to go relax with my family, and I survived (a monumental moment for me). Give grace when you forget it’s pajama day at your child’s school. Open up and share some of your crazy with those around you, moms or not. They’ll get to see that you aren’t perfect and neither are they. You’ll connect with others and build a support team surrounded by authentic grace. I urge you to find people in your lives to share your day to day struggles with and listen to theirs. I found mine and look forward to growing my tribe, one “mom fail” at a time. We are real human beings, with imperfections. Trying to do everything the way we think it should be done (or Pinterest thinks it should be done) will just leave us in a puddle of anxiety, tears, and half-eaten Jack’s donuts.