When I had a hypothetical family, I was the best mom! My kids only ate healthy food. They were happy and calm. They did their chores without question. My house was clean and organized. My husband and I had the best relationship. I worked out regularly. And I was able to do it all while working full time. Damn I was proud of my made-up life! I really could do it all.
Then I had an actual family and Shit. Hit. The. Fan.
My brand-new baby didn’t care about my expectations. She ate, slept, pooped, and freaked out all on her own schedule. She didn’t love to sleep on my schedule either. Slowly my idea of a perfect home started falling apart. I couldn’t keep up with the laundry. I couldn’t maintain the “shoulds”.
My house wasn’t neat. I was exhausted. I was overwhelmed. I was crazy hard on myself for not being able to maintain my home and meet everyone’s needs in the way I believed I should. And the craziest part to me is that I never thought to ask for help. I felt it was my responsibility to be able to provide everything for everyone. And somehow, not being able to do that made me feel this deep sense of shame.
When I thought I had things sort of figured out, along came baby #2. And the shit hit the fan all over again! My feelings of shame and overwhelm were now multiplied by 2. Sleep was nonexistent. Exercise was out the window. I was losing myself. Forget inner peace, functioning was my new goal.
I believed that in order for life to be the way I thought it should be, then I had to do more. I had to be on top of everything.
I worked like a machine: always cleaning, organizing, washing, etc, etc, etc. Because it took so much out of me, I got super frustrated when the girls or my husband made “a mess”. They’d be having fun, and I’d be running around cleaning everything and resenting them for it. Talk about unhealthy. To top it all off, not exercising had me feeling super self-conscious about my body, my entire appearance, so I did my best to hide it. And….I began to diet. Another mistake! Life was happening all around me, and I wasn’t enjoying any of it.
Flash forward to the day I overheard my daughters talking about wanting to go hit softballs at the park. One of them said, “Let’s just ask Daddy, Mommy is always busy”. I felt like shit. I spent all my time trying to provide them with a home they’d be proud of, trying to make sure they were happy and cared for. And even though I was the one they came to for snuggles or to chat about their day, they were learning from my actions was that I was too busy to spend time with them. I was stripping them of what they craved most, time with me. That literally changed my thinking in the most major way.
I had always been the fun loving, silly one in the room. Somehow, I had become the cleaning tyrant that rained on everyone’s parade. That had to change. I’d be damned if my daughters’ childhoods would be filled with memories of Mommy being too busy to have fun with them. And, what the hell kind of lesson was I teaching them? When you love someone, you go crazy trying to make things perfect for them? You neglect yourself?
So, what do you do when you want to spend as much quality time with your kids as possible, but also have a neat home that we can all thrive in? You change your ideas, and your workload.
I had to rewire my thinking, and rethink my ideas of what life should be. I had to let go of a lot of control and lean on the people who wanted happiness for me as much as I wanted it for them. I had to learn that taking care of our home wasn’t my responsibility, it was ours. And dividing up our household responsibilities taught my family to feel more accomplished and proud of their home. Leaning more on my husband didn’t make me feel ashamed, it totally helped us as a couple. And I had to learn that my kids could give two shits what I looked like as long as I was with them. No matter my size or body shape, they think I’m beautiful, and it took me a long time to see that for myself.
I’m growing up. Lol. I have even been known to go to bed with dishes in the sink a time or two! And I love knowing that my girls will remember the fun we have, rather than how clean the house is. (Even though I still expect it to be clean, we just do things differently now 😊) More than anything, they are learning that loving and taking care of your family has very little to do with perfection and everything to do with connection. My kids now have a happy mom instead of a “perfect” one, and we’re so much better off because of it. Lesson learned.
Keep it burnin'