Let me preface this post with mentioning that I could not love my child anymore and I cannot imagine my life without him. But can I be honest? Motherhood is really hard.
And the hardest part of motherhood for me has not been that obvious. It’s not the sickness during pregnancy, sleepless nights or the gassy baby. It’s not the fear of every squeak that newborn makes or every sickness he comes home with. It’s not the stubborn 2 year old…or 3 year old…or 4 year old. It’s not the battle against my selfishness every single day.
All of those things are hard. So hard. But what I’ve realized is, it’s the unrealistic expectations of motherhood that continually leave me feeling run over by a truck. Disappointed in myself and exhausted. It’s taken me almost 5 years to realize that these expectations have straight up owned me for my son’s entire life.
How I thought it would go, how I think it will go, how it should go. These things smother me more often than not.
And it has left me in a constant state of feeling less than.
I should be able to manage a full time job, 1 child and a husband fairly easily. I should be able to excel at those things. I should be able to keep the house and my car clean and the laundry folded and put away. I should be able to have more energy than I do. I should go on more dates with my husband. I should pray with my son more. I should read to him more.
I should write thank you notes faster and not feel the need to apologize so often. I shouldn’t feel guilty about every little thing. I should make more time for my friends and family. I shouldn’t need so much down time or sleep. I should volunteer more. I should be setting a better example for my son. I shouldn’t get so frustrated with my child for not listening. I should have more patience. I should get off my phone.
All of the unrealistic expectations I have placed on myself have been just that…unrealistic. And these expectations were placed on myself by myself but I’d be lying if I didn’t think social media doesn’t place some kind of unnecessary pressure on moms. We all capture the happy and put it out there for the world to see. As hard as I try not to, sometimes comparison sneaks in and I wonder how that mom manages the full time job, 3 kids, a husband and volunteers at numerous non-profits while running half marathons. I know she does all that, because she puts it on social media. What I don’t know is how little she sleeps or how worn down she likely feels.
But sometimes, I see that and I find myself wondering why I can’t keep up. And that’s wrong. It’s wrong of me to compare myself to her and it’s wrong of me to put unrealistic expectations on myself. It’s wrong because God has given me one of the greatest gifts and instead of enjoying it, I’m worried about managing unrealistic expectations.
What’s crazy is, it’s taken me almost 5 years to realize the burden I was placing on myself by trying to live within my own expectations. It’s added unneeded guilt, stress, fear and worry.
So if you are also living with the burden of unrealistic parenting expectations, you don’t have to. You’re a great mom. You’re doing the best you can. And your kids will not remember the messy house or the fact that you required 10 hours of sleep. They will remember that you were present and played with them. That you laughed with them and loved them.
So spend more time focusing on the things that matters and join me in releasing those unrealistic expectations. It’s freeing, I promise.