Bad Mom Day: The Motivation You Need to Hear
Bad day? We all get them!
Okay. This post jumped out of me like a swear word when you hit your toe really, REALLY hard.
Mum having a ‘bad day’ is something that’s been on my mind for a very long time. Let me capture this thought while it’s still vivid in my mind.
When mommy has a bad day
Let me ask you this. Have you ever…
… wondered where that excitement to become a mum went?
.. felt ungrateful saying motherhood is hard, especially compare to your partner’s full time job?
.. wanted to drop your life and run away?
… looked at your child and felt like saying ‘I love you so much, just not today’….
.. felt like a failure for not loving the stay at home mum life every day or not being the mum you imagined?
… shushed yourself when feeling down thinking of all the women desperate to become mums?
… looked back at your life without kids and felt a sense of regret?
… cried your eyes out from exhaustion?
… or couldn’t even cry anymore from all the exhaustion?
.. felt overwhelmed by not having a single minute to yourself and needed some break from that constant responsibility over another human being?
… admitted feeling like shit and had a stranger say ‘how awful, I feel sorry for your kids, they’re not demanding they’re dependent, poor things’?
… didn’t want to admit how much you hate being mum sometimes because people will judge you and be harsh with you thinking ‘it’s your kids you hate you selfish woman’? So you quickly added ‘Don’t get me wrong, I do love my kids more than anything, it’s just that…’?
…opened up about the pressure of being a mum and heard ‘that’s what you chose so tough, suck it up’?
.. felt like a bad mum for not making a home cooked meal like all the other mums?
.. heard your child wake up for the 20th time during the night, thought to yourself ‘I’m getting up in an hour and haven’t closed my eyes yet’, and wanted to scream ‘ENOUGH!!!!!’?
… compared yourself with other mums, look at their Instagram photos – tidy homse, kids all smiling, mums looking gorgeous and fresh… and felt like the biggest crap in the world for failing to be the same?
.. felt like your kids deserve better?
Your feelings are valid
What if I told you that…
You’re absolutely fine. You are not alone. You’re doing exceptionally well and possibly giving more of yourself than a human being is capable of to remain healthy. I hear you. We are not bad mums for simply feeling overwhelmed. Questioning whether you love your children when you feel fed up would not even cross my mind. I am certain you love them dearly, you only feel like you’ve had it and there is a logical reason behind it. How do I know this frustration? Because I’ve been there. Now days I know that most of these questions mentioned above turn up when we push ourselves to the limit (and beyond).
Human beings have a limit and mums are human beings
Our little ones rely on us for many things. We need to provide for them, comfort them and coach them daily. We have to recognise when something is wrong when they cannot communicate their needs yet. This responsibility never goes away and it can become overwhelming. When we feel overwhelmed we are not imagining those feelings. It’s our bodies telling us that we carry too much. It is a warning to allow the fight/flight mode to pass. The intention of this mode is to protect us and make us aware of things threatening to our health. That’s the good news! The bad news however, is that when this mode becomes prolonged it can make us feel all sorts of things.
It never stops surprising me how much pressure there is on mums to always know what to do and what is best. Someone once said that a mum instantly knows what her baby needs and it’s been expected ever since. Don’t get me wrong, it’s true that we do get to know our children very well. However, we certainly don’t know everything and shouldn’t have this unrealistic expectation of ourselves. Mums as well as dads feel out of depth at times and that’s okay! Liberate yourself from the mindset of having to figure everything out because you’re the mum. Your best intentions and sincere interest in your children are plenty already.
The aha! moment
There was a time when I felt like the worst mum because being with my son 24/7 somehow suffocated me. This was a big surprise that I didn’t expect. Before becoming a mum I worked in healthcare and I absolutely loved my nursing job. From caring for my patients to having real positive impact in their lives brought profound sense of fulfilment. And as far as I was concerned being a mum was supposed to feel even more fulfilling. You see, I’m the kind of person who gives everything and then takes time completely alone to recharge again. That’s what I do as a nurse, that’s how I am the most efficient. However, this principle is pointless for a stay at home mum raising her child alone. For one simple reason – there’s no break from motherhood. Consequently, if you give your all without any relief you’ll eventually burn like a paper. That’s exactly what happened to me and filled my days with overwhelm, failure and also guilt.
THE worst time and my AHA! moment
Entering the 4 month sleep regression was especially challenging, it hit me like a storm. At one point I seriously feared loosing my mind from the sleep deprivation. However, I perceived it as failure and lack of gratitude that I have a beautiful healthy child. Let me tell you that’s not the best feeling to drag with you when your baby needs a functioning mum. I was longing for one undisturbed 5 or 6 hr sleep, just one. ‘I really didn’t see these ‘bad days’ coming…’, I thought with bags under my eyes.
One of these heavy nights I watched my boy drift off to sleep. I didn’t dare moving or making a sound. And it was then that I remembered the seminar about stress and the impact of physical neglect on a human body. For the first time I felt relieved knowing that when this phase passes I’ll return back to my usual self.
Let me stress this point one more time – mums tend to judge themselves based on completely compromised self. They do everything for the baby but don’t allow themselves even the basics – sleep, meal, shower. Have you been there mommy? No proper sleep, grabbing a bite here and there and in the end expecting perfection of yourself? I have. No surprise that the body starts to react. It’s letting us know via emotions that things need to change, be it asking for help or changing environment in some way.
Have I mentioned hygge?
Big changes can be hard to make when you raise your child alone or when you’re trying to save money as a family. And quite honestly – changes in general can be quite difficult for some moms to handle. So if you’re feeling like it’s all been a bit too much just begin with something simple.
Having to take your child out can be a treat for both if you don’t look at it as your ‘duty’. The same activity can be seen from two completely different angles. I realised this when discovering the Danish hygge way of life. A little book that meant huge shift in my perspective! The essence of this lifestyle taught me to create cosiness and enjoy the present by finding small joys in the simplest daily moments: lighting a candle for lunch – for me, putting on that dress purchased for special occasions only, putting on some music and dancing for five minutes with my toddler, laying in the grass with him on a sunny day, creating a simple and doable planner dedicating quality time to my son and also to myself.
This last point helped the most. I recognised my need to still express myself creatively alongside the motherhood. While pregnant my worst fear was not being able to stay at home with my boy. To my surprise this very thing later became the biggest source of stress. Thankfully – allowing time to make, build, plan and daydream has made me a better mum. Balancing time between spending quality time with my boy and also prioritising space for myself brought a great sense of relief.
What needed resolving next?
One of the heaviest pressures often comes from our own expectations. Initially I didn’t see anything bad on setting high standards for myself. In fact I thought it reflects how much I care. However, there’s a great difference between healthy ambitions and perfectionism driven by fear.
Homemade meal every day? Fun kiddy activities for 8 days a week? Striving to have a baby in snow white clothes? Running a spotless home? Making impression on others or proving yourself to them? Comparing yourself against the ‘Instagram reality’?
… Embrace yourself mommy just the way you are. Your children are blessed to have you. Value yourself enough to thoughtfully filter which of your goals make a nourishing inspiration and which promote feelings of failure. Invest time in self care and explore what it is that YOU are really good at. You will find something for sure. As Meryl Streep once said: “What makes you different or even wierd – that’s your strength.”
So! Mum having a bad day? Really?
Should we really call the questions above a ‘bad day’? If you ask me – I’d rather call them ‘simple-human-biology-tells-us-that-the-body-isn’t-meant-to-function-24/7’ day.
We get very tender with our children when they’re tired. We cuddle them and excuse the grumpiness and fussing because deep down we know their body just needs to rest and all will be fine again. So why all this tough love towards ourselves? We need a break too sometimes, even from the biggest blessing in the world. Here’s the thing. Let me give you an example. Not that I’d want to compare motherhood with tennis but just to demonstrate the point of rest and even change.
Onto the point!
Imagine Rodger Federer, the Swiss gem and one of the best tennis players ever. Super exciting match coming up – Rodger against Spaniard Rafael Nadal. The two top tennis players meeting in Wimbledon and everyone is buzzing. They are excited too – the match begins, they’re giving their best! They’re having a great time and the match lasts for about three hours. After these three hours they’re becoming a bit tired but the love of tennis keeps them going. They push themselves harder.
Let’s say they play the entire day. And night. And another day, no break. They’ve been playing for a week. Two weeks. A month.
Now…. Are they still enjoying playing tennis? And if not, does it make them failures? Does it mean they HATE tennis? … I doubt it. What it does mean is that even the most enjoyable activity or the loveliest company in the world will eventually begin to exhaust us if there is no break from it. Logically. Because not our bodies nor our minds are designed to last without a break.
You’re right. Children are one of the most fulfilling joys one could ever have, I agree. And mums can take a break sometimes, I agree. They can sleep when the child sleeps, rest on the sofa when the baby is playing. They surely can. Except the rest which is needed is mainly emotional. Can mums really put away the sense of love and responsibility?
Who’s been there – your child is peacefully asleep, you can rest but instead you’re checking countless times if she’s fine and breathing? Who could have had some sleep but browsed internet for nice baby clothes, toys or vacations instead? Who’s kids were away at their grandparents’ and you spent your time off checking your phone or looking out of the window constantly?
So how is it then, can mums really rest easily? In reality – no, not really. Because the role of a mum possibly won’t allow them to. There are many mums who don’t need a break from their children. Perhaps it’s the opposite. Maybe they’ve been doing their best to secure some source of income so that they can actually stay at home. Their biggest frustration is having to rely on others to look after their kids. One mum’s pressure is having to be at home whilst another one’s it’s having to be away from home. We all have our circumstances and there’s no need to judge each other. The point is that we can all become overwhelmed regardless.
What we’ve learned
Now we know that having a ‘bad day’ is completely normal for moms. We all feel weak or fed up at times and still go on that little bit longer because we are scared to be vulnerable. We blame ourselves for exhaustion and feel bad for wanting a break, we are scared of criticism for not being perfect. And we don’t want to feel like we’ve failed our children, family and also ourselves. What I want you to know that it’s okay to feel this way. View your emotions as a sign of very much needed change. Do you need to let go of some unrealistic expectations? Learn how to ask for help? Create some time for yourself to have another role besides being a mom?
We all want our children to flourish, feel heard and loved and have a sense of belonging and participation. Know mommy that you need the very same thing for yourself as well. I discovered this the hard way and ever since I’ve been introducing small treats and creative projects to my days to promote the sense of contentment. I have created a whole site for this purpose and I hope you’ll find something useful there for yourself too. Even just a few words of validation and encouragement. None of us is perfect mommy and that’s okay. We are not supposed to be.
x, Ellie from Le café de maman
This is me and most days I don’t look like the photo you see in my bio lol Most days I run after my toddler and work from home with hair all over the place and barely any make up on. If you can relate mommy you’re very welcome to visit Le café de maman – hygge inspired place to relax and enjoy articles about motherhood, creative DIYs and mum-nurturing treats!