When I was about 9 years old, I participated in a race on the school playground. I don't remember who I was racing, but it's a fair bet that there was at least one boy involved, which meant I really had to win. I'd heard that in foot races, you're not supposed to look back, you need to pace yourself, you should run on your toes, and more; with all this expert info I was a sure to win.
I lined up with the others at the starting line, and when I heard "Go!" I burst forward, just as I'd seen runners in the Olympics do. My skinny little legs moved as fast as I could make them go, but I could sense other runners were very close (but I did NOT look back!) I pumped my arms faster, and leaned forward, willing my legs to catch up.
My legs did their part, and I was moving forward, but they just could not keep up with what my brain wanted them to do. As my body leaned forward, the ground kept getting closer and closer to my face until, BOOM! I hit the ground and somersaulted over and over! The Girl Scout uniform I was wearing that day had streaks of mud all over it, my beret had flown off, and one of my shoes was . . . well I wasn't sure where it was.
I was disappointed, but had to face the facts: Even though I knew all the great tips, I still stumbled. In fact, part of the reason I stumbled was that I tried to implement all of them.
I had a similar experience in motherhood, except the fall was harder. I wanted to "win" at motherhood, to be a really great mom, but I wasn't sure what that meant. So, I got as much good info as I could and started to implement it--all of it.
Long story short, I soon lost my balance; my body and soul couldn't keep up with the demands of being the perfect wife and mother and, well, let's just say that I lost more than a hat and a shoe. There were some very dark moments in the months and years that followed as I worked through anxiety and depression.
After many years I could see that being a mom really only involves a few, basic essentials:
First of all, you have to physically care for your child. This is sometimes delightful, sometimes frustrating, and sometimes exhausting, but you don't agonize over whether to do it or not, you just do it, regardless of how you feel.
The second essential is the responsibility of preparing them to face the world. This is more involved and more likely to cause mental agony, because there are SO many ways to approach this. How firm should you be? Should you use consequences for misbehavior, and if so, what, when, and how? And actually, what exactly ARE the things that will prepare them to face the world?
In most situations if you'll give yourself a minute to think, you really do KNOW what you need to teach them. They need to know right and wrong. They need to know how to listen and follow instructions, to learn from you and others in legitimate authority. They need to know how to interact with different people, how to be respectful and not self-centered, and how to express gratitude.
When you know for sure the things that really matter, and you're sure of the kind of person you want your child to be (a person of good character, right?), then the only question is how you're going to teach these things.
These are the things worth thinking about; you DON'T need to be filling mental space with regrets about ways you may have damaged your child's psyche. In fact, if you really commit to helping your kids learn character-building habits, you won't have time for things that you might regret!
When our kids grow up, nobody will be able to tell whether they ate corn puffs or yogurt for breakfast, or if sometimes they were allowed too much TV. But they'll notice good manners, conscientious work habits, and an attitude of humility and respect.
Here's my advice:
Stop agonizing over stuff that doesn't matter, clarify the stuff that really does, and focus on that.
Let go of your own unrealistic expectations--having the perfect house, being the perfect mom, never upsetting your kids, etc.
Stop listening to the screaming voices on social media that invite the comparison-failure loop
You'll have a lot more clarity, and a lot more energy and focus. And you'll be far less likely to stumble and fall!
And if you need help, remember that I've done this before! With really good results! Contact me; let's talk!
All the best,