I hated motherhood.
I just finished reading Molly's post about her triggers and man I got sucked in. Sucked in to her moment, sucked in to my own moment. I was once her, crying myself to sleep feeling horrible for the choices I made....for losing my temper on a child who is learning and needs a role model...a child who needs an adult...a mom. My kids needed a mom, and in those moments I hated that their mom was me. There are women out there built for this and in those moments, I felt like the universe had gotten it all wrong when they made me a mother. "I can't do this", I would tell myself.
What do we do when we feel that low? What do we do when we are feeling so ashamed...so guilty? What do we do when those ugly thoughts cross your mind?
We accept reality. We accept the present moment. We move on. We forgive ourselves. We stop making promises and we accept that we are human beings who mess up sometimes... Human beings who fail and make mistakes. We also accept that we are human beings that can learn and grow and do better. We accept that we were supposed to be moms simply because we are. We get the help we need. We admit that something is off. We speak our feelings. We ask ourselves the hard questions and have the hard conversations and we move forward. We change. We look in the mirror at the one person we have control over and we decide to be different. We decide to be different.
I remember so vividly my moments of weakness last year. I was so angry that I was a military wife and I was so angry that I was a solo parent more days than not. I wanted my old self back. I wanted a partner back. I wanted a life back, but in those dark moments I was too angry and too stubborn to get the help I needed. In those moments I saw no way out and I felt sorry for myself. In those moments, it was about what everyone else was doing to me and what no one else was doing for me. In those moments it wasn't about me. I was a victim. I was too proud and too selfish to realize that I was the problem.
I am a mom to two girls. I am a military spouse. This is my reality, yet too often I became an angry mom because I felt awful about who I had become, who I had let myself become. I was angry because I was mom and nothing else. I didn't realize in that moment that it was my own fault for letting Julie the person die, not realizing that Julie the person could exist and be a mom at the same time. There were also pieces of my past I was carrying around and I didn't realize that the emotional baggage was causing me to be that angry mom. I got honest with myself and honest with my husband. For the first time in a really long time, I let my vulnerabilities show and I began to talk. I began to look in the mirror. If only I knew back then the kind of power I had within me.
Ladies, when we have no patience with our kids, I can assure you that 90% of the time it's more about us and what we are dealing with and less about their behavior. Our mental baggage and lack of self-worth or self-care creep into our parenting decisions all the time and often times we don't even notice it. It's sneaky that way.
We are mothers, but we are all still individual people with hopes and dreams and worries and troubles and opinions and passions and goals. We are people with a past. We are people who can't help but look to the future and wonder what's next? When I am done being a mom, then what? Is there a person underneath "mother" to go back to? There is a lot of thoughts happening up there every day as we try to parent. As we try to stay calm in the moments when chaos begins to unfold.
It's hard to put all that aside. It's hard to deal with the thoughts as we mother, but we must.
We will all stumble as we walk through this journey of motherhood, but the important part is that we show up, we try, we do better...not because we should, but because we have to...because we must be the kind of people we want our children to be. We must be whole, self aware people so that our children grow to be whole, self aware people. The change we wish to see in our world begins with us. The change we wish to see in our parenting begins with self care.
*People ask me what I've done to make the changes... so here is a small glimpse into my little life over the past year...
The first thing I did was go off my birth control. Every month right before my period I would have these out of body rage episodes and I knew it was from my hormones. I would have an episode ..."she would come out", and hours later I would get my period. I felt all over the place on that medication and I finally knew I had to make some changes and talk to the doctor. Presently I am on a hormone free IUD.
The second change for me started when I put my girls in school. I had so many fears, both rational and irrational about putting both kids in school a few days week and for a long time I convinced myself that I *had* to homeschool. My push to homeschool my kids came from a place of fear and fear is never a good idea to do anything. Putting the kids in school in a small way saved my life and certainly saved my sanity. I wish I could have taken the steps back then to get the break I needed but I was too scared. School has given me time. Time to be someone else. Time to collect my thoughts. Time to breathe. Time to miss them. Time to exercise. Time to sit in Panera with friends who help me through this time of my life.
I also saw a counselor...it was during this time that I really began to focus on the things that Zen Parenting so often talks about. I was able to really understand the importance of self-awareness and mindfulness and it is something I work really hard at even today.
I listened (and still do) to podcasts several times a day. It is food for my soul. The tips and techniques ZPR and God-centered Mom (especially their earlier episodes) talk about in their podcasts motivate me to be different with my girls. They motivate me to try new things with them when something isn't working. I constantly fill myself with good, positive things and I surround myself with great people who build me up and I wake up every morning deciding to be different than I was last year. It was Zen Parenting Radio that gave me permission to not enjoy every moment of motherhood. Just that small realization took loads of pressure off my shoulders.
I spoke with my doctor about everything I was dealing with and got on an anxiety medication. I have been taking Prozac for almost a year now and it has helped me immensely find the pause between stimulus and reaction. Not everyone needs medication, but I did...I still do.
There are things we can all do to make small changes in our lives. As Moms on Call tell us, "parent out of truth and not fear". Parent out of a place of confidence. Live confidently enough to know that things can be changed. Don't accept life "as is" if it isn't working for you.
The final thing that really changed my life, was dealing with some things from my past. "Radical acceptance" was the term I focused on in counseling and man was it a game changer. Dealing with the emotional baggage I was holding on to allowed me to move forward and cleared my mind so that there was more space there to better deal with the kids. When they were losing it, I was in control because I had made the space. It is so easy to sweep things under the rug, to hold a grudge, to exhaustingly work to make things different or change people when they can't be changed. Every day I brought all that into my parenting and it all came to a head last year when Joe was away at work.
Piece by piece I had to start fixing the things in my life. I had to take control. I had to find solutions and try new things, because laying on the floor sobbing or screaming at my kids wasn't working for me anymore and we all deserved better.
Have you ever heard the story about the two wolves that live inside us??? Which one are you going to feed???
Be different girls. It's so worth it.