Overcoming negative self talk when You feel like a bad mom
Little Man has a cold. Before picking him up from daycare, our wonderful provider let us know he was having a lot of trouble napping, so she held him and rocked him to sleep. She sent a beautiful picture of him nestled in, snug against her chest, with drooping eyelids. Perfectly at peace. So, preparing to put him to bed for the evening I fully anticipated some additional snuggle-requirements from our tiny dictator. Nope. I had mutiny on my hands. I don’t know about you, but when stuff like this happens I find myself comparing myself to his provider. It’s these moments when I feel like a bad mom.
First, he started screaming when he finished nursing from each breast. So much so that Hubbaloo quickly prepared a bottle for him as I tried to rock him and comfort him. He drank nearly the whole bottle, but rejecting the last drops, he proceeded to scream. Then I continued to try to soothe him – rocking him, standing and swaying with him, singing to him – all of the things that normally work. Finally, I laid him in his crib and he whimpered, but settled down. Seconds later, he was screaming again. It was a no-win situation. Seeing as he usually sleeps better when he falls asleep at home without being held, and seeing as holding him was definitely not making it better, I closed the door to let him coax himself to sleep.
I promptly broke down. Big, sloppy, messy tears pouring from my eyeballs. I’m a terrible mom, I thought. What kind of mom can’t provide enough milk for her baby? And what kind of mom am I if I can’t bring him comfort when he’s sick? What kind of mom am I if I can’t comfort my sick baby but his daycare provider can? The thoughts were vicious and came without restraint.
But you know what? I’m a good mom. Like, seriously. I’m not a bragger, but I feel pretty good about my momming abilities a lot of the time. Not because I’m perfect, but in part, because I don’t expect myself to be perfect. When you feel like a bad mom, remember, this moment doesn’t define you as a mom.
So instead of throwing myself the pity party I desperately want to throw for myself (there should totally be cake and booze involved, right? I mean, it is a party after all, even if it’s a sad and pathetic party), I put together a list of a bunch of lies I’ve told myself as a mom. And instead of hiding them away, I’m going to share them with you. Along with my retorts. Because if we don’t have comradery in all the times this parenting thing is hard, when you feel like a bad mom, then what do we have?
When you feel like a bad mom, here are some of the reasons I’ve convinced myself I’m a bad mom (and their counter-arguments):
- I can’t make enough milk to feed my kid
- First of all, I’ve proven that I can up my milk supply.
- Second of all, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we needed to introduce formula – at least he’s being fed
- He doesn’t want to snuggle me as much as I want to snuggle him
- Little Man feels safe with me and is comfortable exploring the world if I’m around. He doesn’t need constant snuggles. Plus, he’s still a willing participant in many snuggle sessions.
- He won’t sleep in my arms
- Hello, we actually sleep trained for a reason, Sarah. This is a good thing! He needs to be able to sleep on his own. Just because I miss it, doesn’t mean sleeping in my arms is the best thing for him.
- I get frustrated when he has sleepless nights
- C’mon. You’re human. And you need sleep — you have bad days. And sometimes too little sleep makes people grumpy. You’re still loving on him and taking care of him, despite the sleepless nights. Plus, these sleepless nights are prime baby-holding time!
- I miss his sleepless nights because at least then I could hold him a little while
- Holding him is wonderful, and its great to get extra time with him when there is so little togetherness time during the day. But sleep is also pretty great.
- I can’t stay home with my kid all day
- This doesn’t make me a bad mom, it just means the finances aren’t there. And he loves seeing the other kids at daycare.
- I miss out on his firsts because I’m at work
- This doesn’t make me a bad mom, this just sucks.
- I’m jealous of his daycare provider
- At least she cares for him well and he seems to love being with her. The fact that I feel like he’s with someone who will love and protect my kid throughout the day while I can’t be with him is a pretty huge blessing.
- I’m sad he enjoys daycare so much because I would rather him want to be with me
- He lights up when I pick him up from daycare, so even though he enjoys daycare, he does love being with me.
- Sometimes I would rather sleep in on the weekends rather than wake at the crack of dawn with him
- Again, sleep is great. And pretty important.
- Occasionally I would rather be cranky to everyone around me because I would rather be up with him than get the sleep I need
- Sometimes compromises must be made. And sleep is great and all, but when time with Little Man is so limited during the work week, the weekends are basically what I live for.
- I let him “cry it out” to get to sleep
- He doesn’t usually cry too much before falling asleep these days. And even when he does, its pretty short lived. He’s learned to self-soothe, which is important!
- I don’t let him “cry it out” to get to sleep
- Ok, sometimes I’m weak and can’t handle those tears for very long. It doesn’t make me a bad mom. I just love my kid and want to protect him from everything. But for real, he sleeps so much better when I don’t swoop in to save the day.
- I can’t protect him from getting sick
- I just need to keep up with his vaccines and as much breastmilk as you can provide. Immunities! Its the best I can offer him.
- I can’t magically heal him when he’s sick
- I’m not God. Just keep taking him to the doctor as he needs it, Sarah – it’s the best you can do.
What lies have you told yourself as a mom? How did you remind yourself you’re not?