Do you, as a mother, ever feel a sense of defeat, shame, sadness, guilt, anger, or overwhelming pressure when identifying yourself as a mom? Have you ever taken a moment to remind yourself that you are doing the best you can? It's easy to forget that doing your best in any given moment doesn't mean you won't learn and grow to do better in the future. It means acknowledging and accepting where you are right now, with kindness and compassion. As mothers, we often neglect to accept the situation or give ourselves the credit we deserve. We fail to recognize the significance and importance of our own well-being, which ties into how we carry our roles as mothers.
As a working mother of two teenagers, I often reflect on how my life changed after giving birth to my first child. I will never forget the overwhelming love I felt the moment I saw her, but I also remember the immense pressure I put on myself to breastfeed, despite the bleeding nipples and sleepless nights. I felt like I had to maintain the appearance of being high functioning, even when I was struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety for over a year. I was in awe of other mothers who seemed to handle everything with ease, and this made me feel even more defeated. With the arrival of my second child, I learned to let go of the societal pressures with the facade that you can do it all. Despite facing the same demands as my first, I was kinder to myself and started to understand what caring for myself actually means to me.
As my children grew older, I still struggled with the guilt of not always being there for them. One particular incident that stands out was when I missed my daughter's recital. The whole day, I was stressing out trying to rearrange my schedule so I could make it to the performance. Unfortunately, due to the demands of my work schedule seeing patients, I was running late. When I finally arrived at the school, I was frazzled and guilty, and to my dismay, I had just missed my daughter's solo. To make matters worse, one of the other moms gave me the stink-eye and muttered something about how I had missed the performance. And then I saw my daughter’s tears, my heart just sank. Thankfully, another mother came to my rescue. She had recorded the entire recital so I could watch it with my daughter. That night, I cried in utter shame. I wish I had known that I was doing the best I could given the circumstances. I wish I had been more compassionate and kinder to myself. My daughter was the one who wrote me a loving card the next day to not feel bad.
Let's be real, as moms, we're always finding something to feel guilty about or judge ourselves for. If our kids aren't thriving in school, we automatically assume we're doing something wrong. If they're not mentally or emotionally well, we think we're not supporting them enough. And if they're rude or misbehave, we question how we didn't teach them better. Our brains are wired to create a negative narrative that hurts us and makes us look like we are not enough, but we need to realize that we're doing the best we can at this moment in time.
As mothers, our role is to guide and protect our children, both emotionally and physically. However, this does not mean we are striving for perfection in our identities as mothers, nor should we act on our feelings of guilt that inevitably arise throughout our lives. Let us remind ourselves that we are all doing the best we can. Motherhood is arguably the most challenging job in the world, and we must be kind to ourselves and show compassion. The more we prioritize our own health and healing journey, the better we will show up as mothers. So let us embrace the mantra: "I'm doing the best I can." Let's avoid judgment of ourselves and others, and show ourselves some kindness and understanding. To all the incredible moms out there, we salute you!