The 7 Truths About Motherhood

1. Mothers will compete with you. At some point in motherhood during a playgroup for your child, potluck, playdate or on the playground, you will learn that other moms are evaluating how you parent, the type of snacks that you pack for your children, whether or not you are a good enough mother because of the tantrums your child has or the types of activities that you expose your child to, like music lessons. Over the years, I have chosen to create my community with mothers that do not have something to prove by pointing out what I should or should not be doing.

2. Setting boundaries is essential to having any chance at personal peace. I’ve learned that the word “no” is my best friend, and my comfort level with speaking it has prevented me from overcommitting at PTA events and other activities. This two-letter word has also allowed my children and spouse to understand that I don’t have additional hours in my day to do more than my share. I’ve realized that the clearer I am about what makes my household and life move smoother, the better I am at asking for what I need.

3. Motherhood is stressful and beautiful. At many points on this journey you will experience stress trying to do it all – when “all” was never expected to begin with. One of the ways that I’ve practiced reducing my stress is to repeat daily that “less is more.” When I have less stuff that I am committed too and fewer things to fill every corner of my home, I find it easier to live and see the beauty that is around me.

4. Your car will be messy. As much as I would like to say that my minivan, affectionately known as the “Mom-Me Porsche,” is always spotless, it isn’t. Well, maybe it is spotless for the few hours after a car wash before I pick up the children and their friends, but it doesn’t stay that way for long. We live in our car and it has every type of sporting equipment, backup outfits, a first aid kit and snacks just in case mom realizes that someone forgot the “whatever.”

5. If you’re married, you must date your spouse without your children. My husband and I try to date one another every other week at least. We might meet for lunch or go out for dinner. Sometimes, we visit our favorite bookstore and just have coffee and make time to talk without interruption. Occasionally, we arrange to do something more interesting that requires us to dress up and impress one another. We truly cherish our time together.

6. At times you will question if you are making the right choices for your children. It happens to us all with every child and at every stage of motherhood. It might begin with a simple decision that you made during your child’s routine doctor appointment or whether or not to choose a particular school or teacher, or to switch a child’s class. It could even be a decision that you made to allow your children to watch certain television programs, or to view the latest blockbuster movie, and the list goes on and on. I have learned over the years that if 80 percent of my decisions are great and 20 percent of them are fair-to- average, then my children will fare well in their lives. I also frequently remind myself that perfection is never the goal and that striving for it will drive me insane. Really.

7. Taking care of yourself is the best gift that you can give your family. Never feel guilty for making time for yourself, because your self-care will make you a better mother. Women struggle tremendously with finding time for themselves as mothers and justifying time away from their families. There’s a reason that flight attendants tell passengers to secure their own oxygen mask first and then the masks of children traveling with them. After all, how can you take care of those around you if are unconscious? Being your best will allow you to give your best to everyone in your family.


Parenting Guilt is a Waste of Time

It was one of those lazy Sunday afternoons and the sky was beautiful blue. White, billowy clouds were floating by as I sat and watched them on my front porch. The only problem with this day was I felt guilty about not being more productive. I felt like I “should” be doing something. Pulling weeds, reading some important journal paper or updating my blog. I remember this feeling as a parent too. There always seem like there is so much to do and I was always so far behind on something. Shouldn’t I be doing laundry instead of playing catch in the backyard with my kids or working on some craft? There were many times my guilt drove me to try and do household chores and play with the kids at the same time. Let’s just say, it wasn’t very effective in either area.

Many of us NEED to listen to that inner voice. That bathroom really does need some more attention but for the majority of parents, guilt is a constant critic. It is driven by the need for perfection. It fears what others will think of us. It causes us to forget that our children are more important than a clean dish put away into the dishwasher.

As a grandparent, you realize that the moments slip away into days into years into decades and then there are gone. When you realize all the magical moments missed with your child because you just had to prune the rose bush or scrub the shower (or for you working parents, work an extra hour or two in your home office), that is when the real guilt settles in. It is for what you could have done with your child if I wasn’t just so tightly wound up over the little things.

Here’s my parenting expert, grandfatherly advice:  Spend an entire weekend just interacting with your children and let guilt go for two entire days! Just two days mind you. That means the beds don’t get made, the dishes may stay in the sink (OK, you can put them away after they go to bed) and the home office door stays shut. Oh yeah, and the electronic devices are off. Yes, off!

Tell me how the experience goes by posting a comment here or sharing on twitter or facebook.