If someone tells you you’re a good mom, believe them

Motherhood is one of those jobs that you can accomplish incredible, mind-blowing things, and at the same time, question yourself every single day.

You carried that baby inside your body for 9 months and gave birth, (pretty incredible and mind blowing) and you’re caring for that baby every single day. That baby is alive and well, (but is he doing well enough? Is he getting everything he needs? Questions, questions, questions.)

Something about motherhood makes you question if you’re doing enough, if you’re making the right choices on behalf of your kids, if you are enough.

Here’s the thing. I don’t think I’m a bad mom, but sometimes I don’t think I’m an amazing mom either. But instead, an average, just trying to survive each day mom. A “good enough” mom, if you will. But, when people look at me and tell me I’m an incredible mother, I wonder what they see that I don’t?

Sure, family and friends tell me I’m a great mom all the time. I thank them, internally disagree and go about my day. They love me and my son, so of course they’re going to tell me that, they’re being supportive. But the other day, we were out to dinner (at 4pm because, mom life) and a man came up out of no where, tapped me on the shoulder and introduced himself. He said “Hi, I don’t mean to interrupt, but I just want to tell you I think you’re doing an amazing job with him,” he said pointing to my 11-month old baby sitting in a high chair throwing puffs (hey, they were organic) all over the floor. He continued to tell me he had a 2-year old daughter, and he could just tell I was an incredible mother and that my son was a lucky boy.

Huh? If a total stranger seems to see this in me, why can’t I?

For some reason, the words of that stranger have stuck with me and have honestly  made me a little sad. I can look at another mom and tell her what an amazing job she’s doing, and truly mean it, but I have a hard time looking in the mirror and saying the same words to the mama looking back at me.

I think to myself, I don’t have it all together, Not in the least. These are the things the people who think I’m so great don’t see. I’m a stay at home mom—I don’t provide any financial support to my family.  This was a choice my family made together, and it’s a gift that I’m able to stay at home with our son. But yet, I feel incredibly guilty for this gift every day. If I was “working,” maybe then I’d be a “good mom.”

Some days, my baby fights me with all the tiny little fibers in his body. He refuses to nap, eat, or do anything other than being held. Instead of being nurturing and understanding during these times, sometimes, I break down. I get frustrated, I cry. And then, I fall deep into a pit of guilt. He’s just a baby, and he needs me, so get it together and be there for him. Be a good mom. Maybe if I could avoid breaking down sometimes, maybe then I’d be a “good mom.”

Some days, the thought of preparing a baby-friendly meal to therefore just clean it all up off the floor gives me more anxiety than I can handle that day, so my baby gets a store-bought baby food pouch and some Cheerios for dinner. Maybe if I made my baby homemade, healthy, nutritionally balanced meals like so-and-so does (for him to throw on the floor) daily, maybe then I’d be a “good mom.”

But after that man tapped me on the shoulder, I looked in the mirror and decided I needed to change my way of thinking. It would take time, but it was important to work on a mental shift on how I saw myself and my work as a mother.

Being a stay-at-home-mom is harder work than I’ve ever had in the workplace. It’s relentless. The days are long and a HUMAN BEING depends on me to show up every day. So instead of feeling guilty for not bringing home a paycheck, I will feel proud of what I’m accomplishing every day and watch my baby grow with the things I’ve taught and given him. Soon enough he will be in school, and I’ll be able to get back to bringing home some bacon. Now is time to focus on the present, not the “should be’s.”

Instead of feeling bad about having hard days when my baby is being difficult, or the fact that there’s no way I’m preparing a meal from scratch, I’m going to focus on the fact that everyone has hard days. If a good cry is needed, let it happen. If boxed mac and cheese is for dinner tonight, so be it. But know that tomorrow is a new day. I’m a human with feelings and I am more than my bad days. Because for every bad day, there are 5 more good ones, so don’t dwell on the bad.

Instead of waiting for someone to tell me I’m a good mom and rolling my eyes at the statement, I’m going to tell myself, YOU’RE A GOOD MOM. Your baby feels safe with you and needs you. He searches for you in a room and knows when you’ve left. You’re his person, the only person he needs. You would do ANYTHING for that child and you want nothing more in this life than to help that little person thrive.

Why do you do all this? Why do you care so much?

Because, you’re a good mom.IMG_0852

They say it takes a village but mine lives in my phone.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I’m here to correct that phrase. The truth is, it takes a village to raise a mom.

The phrase “It takes a village” never truly resonated with me before I had a baby.  Back then, I thought it meant you’d probably need some friendly faces to bring you a casserole during the sleep-deprived newborn stage, or a few trusting pals to help pick up your kid from daycare. I learned very shortly after giving birth that you need people in your corner for things far beyond the occasional favor. You need a village. A village of gracious, trustworthy souls that can help guide you through the foggy world that is motherhood.

A lot of lucky mamas live near family and friends that can step in and act as their village. But what happens if you don’t? You can do one of two things, navigate that shit alone or find yourself a freakin’ village.

I’d like to strongly encourage doing that later of those two options.

Realistically, not everyone lives near their friends, family or people they can count on. Military families for example, are likely going to be displaced when they and add a tiny new member to their tribe. In our case, we had just moved hundreds of miles away from “home” when I found out I was pregnant. So when the baby came and my husband went back to work, I was pretty much navigating those murky waters on my own.

A few exhausting and overwhelming weeks into new motherhood, it became very apparent to me that I needed support. I found myself wishing so badly I had a readily available “village” nearby to support me and my new little family during one of the most difficult and to be frank, lonely times of my life.

It was during those very foggy weeks that I learned they didn’t need to be physically present to be my people. They didn’t need to ring my doorbell with a lasagna in hand to be exactly what I needed. I realized that a “village” for me was just people to talk to. I’m not talking about chit chat about the weather, I mean, people to really vent to—without judgement. People to be there to listen when I was ready to share my struggles. True conversations about the hard, messy, motherhood stuff you can’t talk about with just anyone. Like true confessions to a therapist at the other end of your fingertips. But on the same token, like-minded individuals to talk about the mundane, boring stuff too. So much happens in the nothings.

Aside from the obvious group of lifetime besties and family, my “village” expanded to include old friends I hadn’t spoken to in years, friends of friends I’ve never physically met, and even strangers I “met” on Instagram. Without even realizing it I was talking to these people nearly every day, because they too were in this weird new club we all somehow knew the password to. That club was motherhood and we were all dazed and confused and in it together. We were all just searching for our tribe.IMG_0633

Before I knew it, I had grown to find my village. But there was a catch—they didn’t have an address nearby. They lived in my phone. This random assortment of humans I would likely never see in person, filled a void in a way I never expected.

As months went on, I found myself texting these new found village people before anyone else. Why? Because they too were in my shoes, and maybe they found their village in me also. They too just wanted to vent that their husband “did it wrong” or that their baby wont nap. They too just want to know they’re not the only ones that have days of anxiety and self-doubt. They too just want someone to send pictures of their babies doing baby things back and forth with without worrying that they’re being annoying. They too love to share their baby’s milestones but also share the days their little ones are pushing them closer and closer to insanity. They too want to share easy recipes because they’re exhausted but also want to feed their families. They too, just want someone to talk to. They too, speak the language of a voice text gone wrong, and actually understand it.

They say it takes a village and maybe mine doesn’t live next door, but I’ve got one and a damn good one at that. I’ve got people in my corner. Motherhood can be isolating and lonely, but it can also make you feel like you’ve never been more connected or understood.

When you connect with women in a way you never thought possible, over this one thing that you have in common, that’s when you’ve found your secret society, your support, your village.

The village of motherhood.