“Stop trying to be SuperMom.” I have repeated this in my head over and over for 15 years. I am sure men experience some of the same feelings, but I can only speak from experience. Surely, at some point in our parenting journies, we all become enveloped with fear, thinking, “What if I fail?”, “What if I am judged by others by the way I mother?”, “What if I don’t live up to the type of mother my mom, mother-in-law, aunt, grandmother, sister, friend, etc. is?”
“What if I completely mess this thing up?”
The pressures new mamas put on themselves are immense. We think we have to do it all, take on every challenge with a vengeance, and succeed. If we are not deemed “Super Mom” by those in our circle, we feel like complete failures.
As a new mom almost fifteen years ago, I felt I had a lot to live up to. My sister had already “mastered” this mothering thing, twice. I had a degree in Human Development and many years of babysitting on my resume. Success at motherhood was something I was certain of. How could I possibly fail?
Baby #1 (and 3 subsequent deliveries for that matter) was a C-section. My doctor felt it unsafe to even allow me to go into labor and deliver naturally. My babies are not lacking in the weight department and #1 set the stage at 10.7 pounds, keeping me from one of the most natural things for a woman to do, give birth.
I endured the trauma of a C-section and excruciating recovery only to completely fail at the next marker of my “SuperMom” status, nursing my baby. I read up on all aspects of feeding my child and rested on the repeated fact that “breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt”. I assumed with the help of nurses and lactation consultants I would figure it all out. With the diagnosis of mastitis, plugged milk ducts, and other unmentionable characteristics had no choice but to pump and then give up nursing all together. I couldn’t birth my child nor could I feed her, naturally. This mothering thing was going downhill as the physical pain she was causing me created emotional pain in her as her tiny hands pushed her body away from me. It was at that point my anxiety from striving to DO IT ALL created in her anxiety of her own.
In retrospect, I realize these were not failures at the time, but in my “SuperMom” striving heart, I felt the weight of not winning. I am not trying to blame myself for my daughter’s anxiety. She has enough chronic physical ailments (not to mention being a teenager) that cause enough anxiety alone. I do want to draw attention to the fact that our level of calm as parents can have a significantt impact on the emotional state of our children. A friend recently posed this question to me. “Why do you think more and more children are being put on anxiety and depression medications?” My response may rustle some feathers, but again, I can only speak from experience, when we don’t deal with our own emotional issues, our own junk, in a productive way, our children will be significantly effected.
I have spoken with other moms who knew they needed help, sometimes medication, for their own anxiety when they started seeing it manifested in their child. Fear of messing my kids up can mess my kids up. A desire to control and do it all will create in my children a desire to control and do it all. I have to stop this cycle. WE have to stop this cycle.
Change cannot happen until you do something different.
I am not trying to tell you how to run your families, but I am telling you, when we strive to do it all, we teach our kids they need to do it all. We pass our anxieties on to our kids, producing overly anxious kids. The cycle keeps turning and we will all be on anxiety medication to manage wh has perpetuated generation after generation.
I have an incredibly anxious child taking anxiety medicine. In order for her to function and have a productive life, she needs medicine to calm her and help her think rationally. Off medicine, I have watched my daughter have anxiety attacks, sometimes hurting herself over trying to cope. In order to help her through her anxitey, the less anxious I am the better she can work through her own. As she escalates, I have to become the calmest softspoken version of myself. Those who know me know that soft spoken is not one of my most gleaming qualities. For my child, I have had to surrender every anxiety of mine to help her cope with hers.
Maybe you don’t need to read this. Maybe anxiety doesn’t plague you or anyone in your family. If so, that is wonderful. I have a feeling that some families just aren’t working well. Chaos and anxiety are through the roof. Dad doesn’t want to walk through the door at the end of a long day. Mom begs for an escape, for a chance to breathe. Let me tell you, this family has been there, and until we made a conscious effort to step back and let go, nothing changed.
“So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.” 1Peter 5:6-7 The Message
In other words, remove the cape, lay down the crown, stop striving for the “SuperMom” status. Its not worth it. You are worth more to your family when you are trusting God and taking care of your needs. If that means letting some things go, then so be it. Your family will appreciate the calm home atmosphere where they can relax and a mom who has stopped the anxiety cycle.