That’s me today, in case you were wondering.
I’m kind of sitting here with eyes welled up with tears and a counter of dishes to be cleared and laundry folded and a whole bunch of work to accomplish and my weary mom heart racing. But more than that it’s that weight inside – that heavy sigh of feeling like I’m just not good enough – that’s what I’m feeling.
You wouldn’t see it.
You’d probably see the outer version of me.
Us moms? We’re really really good at hiding those feelings. I don’t ever see another mom in the school drop off line in the morning and think whoa she’s struggling today. Nope. We’re all masters at keeping it together. And don’t get me wrong – that’s not bad. We do that for our kids. But inside, somedays, if you’re like me you carry this extra weight and burden and worry about just not being good enough. And maybe you don’t even worry, but maybe, just like me it’s that little silent voice that whispers you messed up or why did you do that or why can’t you be better and it just leaves you and me with that heavy not good enough feeling.
It’s easy to try to pinpoint it as all the external pressures — don’t feed them those snacks or the kids are late or wearing the same clothes or they forgot their homework or their coat — but those are’t really the things that deeply weigh me down. Instead it’s this kind of deep festering doubt about whether or not I’m really doing enough.
And doing enough might not even be the external results — it’s this learning enough, investing enough, fighting enough, cleaning enough, volunteering enough — dialogue that can roll through my head. You too? Do you just wonder?
I mean we know that being a mom is enough. Almost two million of you liked that post I wrote. But even though we’re enough I think we can still battle with if we’re good enough.
Today has just been one of those days. I started it with good intentions but then before 8:34 am it had already gone haywire. And you know what? I couldn’t control it.
I think that’s the issue, moms. Being good enough isn’t something we can control. We’d like to think that we can chart out motherhood in 47 easy steps to be accomplished over eighteen years and slightly modified for each child. But life isn’t about control. It’s about operating with a paradigm of structure in a volatile, changing and dynamic world while raising little humans who have very independent spirits. Who, by the way, don’t like to be controlled sometimes.
When we want everything to go smoothly from a to b and base being enough on that success it’s very easy to feel like we’ve failed. Like you’re not good enough.
But what if what you do in-between a and b is what really mattered?
Maybe you were late to school. But did you get them to school? Did you deal with a child with a fear? Did you find the lost shoe? That matters. Maybe it looks like a mess. But there is a whole lot of awesome power in the messy moments of motherhood and life. Maybe you didn’t get everything done on the list or you had cereal for dinner (which, just so you know, is my kids fave) and you’re thinking if only I could be just a bit better and you attach a big gigantic red F to your day. Maybe you were actually good enough and that cereal for dinner made the kids happy and instead of the to-do list you ended up doing things that really mattered in the scheme of life.
They are where you find strength.
They are where you really are good enough.
We just don’t talk about the real power and strength found in the little boring overwhelming crazy moments of life that often. Those are the moments that really matter.
So if you’re like me and you’re struggling with that feeling of overwhelm or not being enough I want you to stop right now and breathe. I know weird. And then I want you to think of three things that you did well today. Or yesterday. And they do not have to be big things. In fact, don’t make them big things. I want them to be things like I finally got him to brush his teeth for longer than 4 seconds kind of things.
Because those are the good enough awesome mom moments.
Those are the moments of grit and tenacity that make you the most awesome mom in the world. Don’t tell me about the trips or crazy gigantic goals – tell me about you. You are the perfect good enough mom for your kids. Not the moms in the pick up line who look like they always have it together. Because chances are, if they’re like you and like me, then they too have their moments of struggle.
The struggle is what makes us real. Relatable. Fighters.
Individuals who love their kids like mad and don’t give up even if they never ever get to point b.
That’s life. That’s motherhood.
That’s the story we will tell when we are old.
So carry on.
Love your kids.
You can do this.
You are unbelievably beyond awesome without words good enough.
If you need extra encouragement read these:
Dear Mom Who Feels Like She is Failing
I love your posts. It’s just so ice to know your not alone that your not the only one having these thoughts. Your amazing thank you.
I needed to hear this message today. Thank you.
I love the part about acknowledging things I did well today – so important to remember, and to reverse the negative messages we all give ourselves. And today, to counteract someone else who doesn’t think I’m good enough. I’m starting my list now and it will be a long one, because actually I am doing an awesome job over here.
This really speaks to me, as do all the posts you write. Control. I finally realized holding everything together during our current rough season in my family ended up turning into me trying to control everything I could, while all the struggles were outside of my control. We all struggle, yet the tribe of motherhood we all silently crave seems to have dissolved in our communities, furthering the motherhood epidemic of solitude and comparing our messy everyday to the highlight reel of “perfectly polished moms” we notice at the park. Its nice to take some time to slow down and read your posts… its where I remember we aren’t alone.
You made me cry. I am young mom. That pressure is unbelievable. If I feel like I don’t have it together or know something that my older “moms” already know, I have been belittled for it. I end up shutting others out because I can’t handle it. This control thing that you talk about in your article, is true. I can relate and understand. Thank you so much for writing your articles. They inspire me and help me realize that everything will be okay.
I’m sitting in my living room at 1am on a school night, wiping giant tears away as I read your words. I wish so badly that I had them as my inner monologue. I feel incredibly lonely and awful and like I have totally failed my kids. Im terrified of them growing up. Looking at old pictures or video of them makes me cry. And not happy tears.
I have a twelve year old daughter and seven year old son. I’m 32 and honestly don’t know how I was ever happy before them. I see no happiness when they are grown and when I’ll be waking up without them. Without their laundry to do. Without toys to pick up. Without cartoons playing. Without cereal bowls to put in the sink. Without cute drawings to save. Every second that they are away, driving or going to college or whatever, I’ll be worrying. I’ll be yearning for the days of them being carefree and giggling in my arms as I tickle them and when giving them ice cream could make their tears go away. I’ve missed those days for years now.
I would seriously kill for hundreds of tinker toys to be dumped all around my living room again. Those days have long passed for my twelve year old and have already started for my seven year old. God, I wish I could rewind everything and do things better. Be there even more than I am, which is 24/7. Be more in the moment. I feel all those days lost to mindless housework that should have been spent with them that I’ll neve get back. I hate myself for those days.
The truth is, deep down, I know I’m a good mom. I know I could be a much worse mom. I know those things but I don’t feel them. I have stayed at home and taken care of my kids every day for all these years. I’ve loved it. But I have such horrible mommy guilt that it’s crippling.
I should have played with them more. We should have went on walks to the park more. I should have read to them more. I should learn how to make more healthy meals for them. They need more swimming lessons. I should have volunteered at school when they begged me to even when it was impossible. Their rooms are too small. They don’t have many friends. They’re on their iPads too much. I should have made more play dates. I should have let go of housework and sat in a pile of papers and crayons coloring with them all day. I should have, would have could have. That’s my mantra. My shortcomings are glaring and torturous.
And the weird thing is, is that I know do a pretty good job every day. The house is always as clean as I can get it while still maintaining sanity. My husband and I take them to do fun things almost every day. We’ve been on wonderful vacations and have great memories. My husband and I always make sure they know how much we love them and support them. And we laugh. A lot. Sometimes, my daughter will keep me up until 3am just chatting with me. Letting me into her world. And my son is the sweetest, most hilarious, brightest, empathetic little boy. I hit the kid jackpot. They are my whole world. So, I couldn’t be this Disney-esque Step Mother from hell that I always imagine. But I feel even worse than one and I can’t tell you why, exactly.
I feel like an empty nester all of a sudden. It’s so painful to have them not need me so much, I guess. It’s painful to see my daughter locked away in her room doing homework and texting friends instead of begging me to let her ride her bike outside at night. It’s painful to have my son cry from not having more friends and go from chatter box to a kid silently staring at a screen. Every day is full of tears and worries for us now. Literally, every day. And it’s been like that for almost a year.
I’m sick of crying and either being depressed about not doing better in the past and being so, so worried about the unknowns in the future. I don’t have a sense of time. A sense of the present. I want to be a happy mom again and go to bed at night being proud and not scared of my kids growing up. Proud of myself. My kids need that mom to look up to but I’m just not “there” anymore. I’m somewhere far away in my thoughts, lost. I don’t know what’s wrong with me or how I got in this rut.
@mandy, I just read your comment and it literally made me cry. I know this was posted almost a year ago, but I just want to make sure you are ok. You said some pretty powerful words that really hit home. I’ve got the guilt with my older kids, but still have younger ones to make up for things. I still feel like
I’m not doing enough. Ever. With anyone. This almost feels like a mental illness (even thought I believe it could be cured with a new way of thinking). If only I could change my thinking…
Anyways, I hope you’re doing better 🙂 Focus on what you got to do with them instead of what you didn’t. There will always be something you missed, but it’s the times you didn’t that really matter 😊
Thank you, I needed it.