“Holla” if you feel guilty a few times day and wonder if you are a “bad mama.” Because you didn’t spend enough one-on-one time with your kid? Because you stopped nursing when your supply dropped? Because you let your kids scream for 15 minutes in the middle of the night ‘til he cried himself back to sleep? You’re old enough to sleep through the night, kid, so do it! (I have no shame sharing these, obviously.) So why do I feel this way? I consider it a success for J when I come home to a baby who is still alive. (He’s a very good dad and this should not be construed as a lack of his abilities. His and my standards are much higher, but still, survival is the first desired outcome.) But why do I tear myself down for things I don’t have much control over? I work full-time, I can’t control my milk supply (mostly), and we have all got to sleep (seriously, child, STOP CRYING!).
I know, I know. I put too high of expectations on myself – and others, for that matter. But how can I stop feeling that way? How did I honestly chill out about not being perfect all the time?
Last weekend, we attended church with my in-laws in their town. It totally messed up O’s nap schedule. When we got home, I tried to put him in the crib, but when I checked on him after 15 minutes had gone by, his was on his knees, gnawing on the side rails. (Which, by the way, is ridic cute AND hilarious!) I took him out and went onto the big bed and let him nurse. Eyes started to roll back in his head. He was feeling very sleepy…but when the milk ran out, the kid was up again! So I laid us down side-by-side, and I gave him a kiss, yawned a couple times, then closed my eyes. I waited about two minutes before I opened them again. The kid was staring at me with a sweet smile on his face. (Not the, “You fool. Just fall asleep and see what havoc I will wreck.” or the, “You think you’re getting me to sleep? Think again, mommy!”) No, this was a cute smile. A smile that seemed to say, “I love you mommy, and I’m so glad we’re having this cuddle time.” Melt.My.Heart. (And I don’t melt often, y’all. It’s a downside of being a hardcore Martha. Less feelings and stuff.) So I closed my eyes again with a few more yawns and waited him out. I felt his fingers check out my nose and he did get a good hair pull in (lil stinker), and after another 3 minutes, I opened my eyes to see his big eyes and that same sweet smile. So…commence kissing fest. I’m not even mad you’re not asleep, kid! I just love you so much!! Ok, ok, no more of that! It is time to sleep! Last shot, I close my eyes and wait. Wait a LOOONG time. And when I open them again? The kid’s out. Success! And, oh so good to experience. I laid there for 20 more minutes before I snuck out of the room. But this was a moment to remember. It’s been a week since that happened, and I’m still on cloud nine, remembering this time of connection with my little human. That one moment reminded me of what matters. O wants me for me, and in the midst of the messy of him not going to sleep, he showed me I’m a good mama.
Lord, help me to chill out. Nothing’s perfect. Not even the next hour. Help me to enjoy the messiness and recognize when something really amazing is happening. Help me to then dwell on that, instead of everything that didn’t go well – at least in my mind.
What tips do you have to avoid “bad mama” syndrome? What amazing moments helped you to remember what a good mama you are?