Years ago I had to make a choice. Either I had to embrace being a working mom and be wholly proud of what I was doing, or I had to quit and commit to being a stay-at-home mom. Constantly castigating myself for my choices wasn’t fair to my children, and it definitely wasn’t fair to me. I also wasn’t setting a great example for them. Did I really want them to see me spending my life pursuing a dream while also anxiously acting as though I didn’t deserve that right? Absolutely not.
A couple years ago, when I was trying to lose the baby weight from my second son, I went to visit my first trainer. She was a battle-ax of a woman with a fondness for burpees (clearly in league with the Devil), and more than once I puked after the time I spent with her. Jerk.
One day we were talking about my diet—at the time I was still going through a bad breakup with Carl’s Jr.—and she asked me, “Would you ever feed your child the food you feed yourself?”
At the time I had a habit of going half a day without eating, then binging on anything and everything in sight. I was horrified by the question because I put so much time and energy into what my boys ate. No, of course I wouldn’t ever feed my children the way I feed myself.
Later, a version of this question became the lifeline I used to pull myself back from the brink of debilitating mom guilt.
Would I ever want my children to feel this way?
Would I ever want them to pursue the desire of their heart, the profession that lights their soul on fire—be it a stay-at-home parent or cosmonaut or entrepreneur—but then constantly second-guess every choice they made because it doesn’t look like everyone else’s social media feed?
So, I made a decision.
I will do my best, and I will trust that my best is exactly what God intended for these babies.
So, I choose my battles. I do the best I can with the time I have, and I bend and stretch for the stuff that seems particularly important, even if it only makes sense in the mind of a seven-year-old. One season Sawyer announced that he only liked my sandwiches for lunch—not Daddy’s. I started getting up early each day to make sure I was the only one who made their lunch. When Jackson told me he wanted to start running with me, I bought him shoes and went on the slowest mile-long jog the world has ever known. And when he told me I should get a necklace like the other moms . . . I got one.
I got that necklace, but there are still a hundred reasons why I don’t fit into all of this as neatly as other women do. For example:
I hate organized sports.
I love my kids more than anything on this planet. But sports? Meh. Sports aren’t really my thing. For several years I beat myself up because I dreaded having our Saturdays disrupted by a game schedule. I felt like a crappy mom because I should want to be out there watching my son play soccer or baseball, but I really didn’t. Oh sure, on the outside I cheered and yelled and made the special game-day snacks, but on the inside—and I know I’ll get flak for this admission—I thought (and still think) it’s kind of boring.
I mean, I’m happy the boys are happy. I’m thrilled that they’re involved in a team sport, learning the benefits of physical activity and gaining confidence in themselves. Beyond that? It’s just not my favorite thing. And I know there are those of you who don’t understand this perspective. For you, these kinds of moments are exactly what you imagined when you dreamed of being a mom—and I think it’s so rad that you feel that way. It’s awesome that we each get to experience moments of blissed-out mama pride with our babies, but what evokes that is different for every one of us.
If time has taught me anything, it’s that our differences are what make this life unique. None of us are exactly like the other, and that is a good thing because there’s no right way to be. The room mom, the working mother, the woman without children, the retired grandma, the mom who cosleeps, the mama who bottle-fed her baby, the strict mom, the hipster mom, the one who lets her kid go shoeless, or the one who enrolls her baby in music enrichment classes at birth—whoever, whatever you are, you’re adding spice and texture and nuance into this big beautiful soup of modern-day parenting. I can look at other mamas and learn from them. I can also leave the things that don’t strike me as authentic or practical for our family. You can do the same for your own. That is the beauty of growing and learning and figuring out exactly who you are.
Taken from Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis Copyright © 2018 by Rachel Hollis. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. www.thomasnelson.com.
Rachel is an author, speaker, podcast host, and lifestyle editor at thechicsite.com.
Latest posts by Rachel Hollis
- Can You Cure Mom Guilt with This One Question? | Rachel Hollis - September 5, 2018