This one’s for you. You who may have given up on herself. You who may feel overwhelmed. You who may feel unappreciated. You who may be struggling. This post is for you.
I give you permission to do the following:
To want to improve yourself. For the last few years, you’ve been making every effort to help your children be their best selves. You may have been using all your energy and time helping them be good little humans and ignoring or postponing a desire to improve yourself. Even worse, you may feel guilty about wanting to improve yourself. You are absolutely allowed to want to improve yourself. Train for a marathon (or even a 5K), learn a new skill, pick up a new instrument, or even just finish that book you’ve always wanted to read. You have permission to want to improve yourself.
To have a life outside of motherhood. Motherhood is deep within us, but it is not the only thing that defines us. We all need adult friends and hobbies and things we enjoy doing that don’t involve our kids. You are more than “just a mom“. Take advantage of nap time, quiet time, bed time. Motherhood is exhausting, but you need to take care of yourself, too. I know it can be hard to ask your husband to put the kids to bed so you can have a night out, but you should absolutely not feel guilty about that. You have permission to have a life outside of motherhood.
To feel overwhelmed. Oftentimes we feel like we should be able to handle all that we have on our plate. We feel like we shouldn’t be stressed out because other people have it so much harder. We feel bad about ourselves for feeling like we just want to hide in the bathroom and lock the door. DON’T! Girl, feeling overwhelmed is sometimes part of motherhood. It’s part of life! It’s hard to not feel overwhelmed when your baby screams every time you pick him up so you have dishes and laundry piled up, or when your toddler has pooped his pants for the third time and you feel like he’ll never potty train. It’s hard to not feel overwhelmed when you send your child to school and they come home with new problems and new challenges that you have no idea how to face. Don’t feel guilty about it or like you have to immediately rid yourself of that feeling. Every mama who has ever lived has felt the same way. You have permission to feel overwhelmed.
To dream. Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dreams. You may have to adjust your plans or your dreams may take a little longer to achieve, but don’t ever stop dreaming. It’s okay if your dreams change, but mamas are allowed to dream and want more for themselves and their families, too. Having kids isn’t the end of your life; it’s the beginning of a new one. You have permission to dream.
To experience new things. Just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean you can’t be adventurous and wild. Try skydiving or learn to waterski or eat at a fancy restaurant or dye your hair pink! You don’t have to stop having fun and trying new things just because you’re someone’s mother. You have permission to experience new things.
To parent differently. We all come from different backgrounds and live in different places and have experienced different things. We all have different viewpoints and will look at situations in unique ways. We’re all going to approach parenting differently, and that’s okay! You don’t have to parent the same way your best friend or the girl down the street does, or even the way your parents did. You have permission to parent differently.
To do what works for you and your kids. No two mamas are the same, and no two kids are the same. Just because one parent puts her kids to bed at 7 every night doesn’t mean that’s what’s best for your kids. You shouldn’t stress about trying to do everything “perfectly” because in reality, there’s no such thing. You are the only one who can decide what works for you and your kids, and that might not include going all-natural or eating a home-cooked meal every single night. You have permission to do what works for you and your kids.
To ignore any judgment or criticism or advice. No matter how hard we try not to, we all can get a little judgy at times. And sometimes we just can’t shut our mouths. Parents get a lot of unwarranted advice (especially new parents), and oftentimes it’s not helpful in the slightest. Ignore any judgment from someone who knows you or doesn’t know you, any criticism from anyone who might in fact be jealous or not understand your situation, or advice from well-meaning, grandmotherly women at the store. You have permission to ignore and judgment or criticism or advice.
To feel everything. Motherhood is the biggest roller coaster I’ve ever been on (and I’ve been on some that have made me black out). You’re going to feel the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. It’s beautiful and awful and we can’t choose which parts we get to experience. So of course you’re going to feel an incredibly wide range of emotions in the process! You shouldn’t ever feel bad about yourself for having feelings, even if they aren’t typically “good” emotions. Emotions are all natural and you’re allowed to feel each and every one. As long as you don’t wallow or feel like you’re in too deep, it’s okay. You have permission to feel everything.
To be yourself. Whether you’ve been a mom for a few weeks or fifteen years, sometimes you’re going to lose yourself. You’re going to spend all your time worrying about your kids, packing lunches, nursing, changing diapers, signing forms, driving kids around, and making meals that your kids will like but still resemble something healthy. You can lose yourself in the trenches, and it’s hard to find yourself again. But you should, you have to, you need to find yourself and remember who you are. You shouldn’t try to be someone else who looks like they’re killing it on Instagram, or try to be like the room mom who bakes and decorates 25 intricate, personalized royal icing cookies. That might not be you, and they’ve got their own problems going on. Don’t worry about them, and try to remember what makes you you. You have permission to be yourself.
To make mistakes. Something I’ve noticed about kids is that they see us at our worst and then the next day they act like it never happened. I’ve made a lot of mistakes as a mother, and I know I’ll continue to make mistakes as my kids get older and we face new obstacles together. But kids are forgiving and all the love we show them the rest of the time makes up for our slip-ups or outbursts. It’s good to let your kids see that you’re human because they’ll watch you pick yourself back up and fix your mistakes, and they’ll learn how to do it themselves. You have permission to make mistakes.
Mama, you’re doing a wonderful job. Motherhood is a confusing, complicated, tiring job, but it really is the best job in the world. And you have permission to do it however you want.