By Karen Deerwester, Ed.S.
Motherhood is a blessing, no doubt about it. But have you noticed there are some mommy-moments in raising children that are better not shared with the children. Like when your three year old discovers how to make the milk come out of his nose – and you want to fall out of your chair laughing. What about when you’re usually timid toddler stands up to the playground bully with ear-piercing defiance – and you feel like doing your own happy end zone dance. There’s also that dark day when you feel so inadequate as a parent you wish you could leave the children in the check-out line in the shopping cart and run into the street screaming for mercy.
These are all perfectly normal mommy-moments. You can’t deny these real mommy emotions without turning into some kind of Stepford mom. Problem is it’s not a really good idea to laugh at your child’s pranks if you won’t be laughing the one hundredth time it happens. And you don’t really want your child hurting or scaring other children. And desperate days usually pass into sunnier days so you try not to frighten the children.
You don’t want these confusing adult emotions to throw a whammy into your child’s safe haven of consistency and emotional stability. These are times when mommies need the company, compassion, and creativity of other adults. All parents must, must, must surround themselves with adult outlets for support. Take a deep breath. Hold that feeling. You will have one really good story to tell someone later.
Who do you trust with your deepest feelings? Your mom, your neighbor who has children the same age as your children, your fearless co-worker, or possibly your spouse? Being a good parenting role model requires you to act with maturity and forethought. But it doesn’t require you to deny who you are or what you feel. Surround yourself with people who will help you to honor and celebrate the good, the bad, the funny, the uncertain, the confusing, and the sometimes insanity of living with children.
Friends change after having children. Sometimes your circle of support grows to include more mom-friends. Sometimes your circle shrinks to include fewer non-mom-friends. Just be sure that your circle is sustaining your genuine and immediate needs.
When is support most critical? First of all, support should be regular and on-going. Parenthood is stressful and cannot be sustained for long periods of time without essential adult intervention. Sure, moms lead busy lives but there’s always time to grab a lifeline and phone-a-friend – even a minute for a silent scream. And there must be time to turn-off the demands of motherhood.
On a controversial Today Show segment about “playdates with wine”, moms spoke up for the right to be an adult woman, in addition to fulfilling their role as mothers. Why try to do it at the same time? Moms are entitled to be adult women without children present 24/7.
Certain high maintenance stages in child development require time-off for moms to regroup, relax, or re-energize before returning to hands-on duty: those clingy almost toddlers, the feisty independent two’s, the defiant learning-the-rules threes, and on and on through the know-it-all teens.
Family life similarly goes through it’s own ups and downs. The entire first year is a monumental transition time redefining and juggling everyone’s needs. And then there’re those life happenings: moving from one house to another, marital bumps, buttinsky friends or relatives, juggling work demands, worrying about global warming and world peace.
How’s your support network looking these days? Don’t wait any longer for help to knock on your door. Make a list of all those feelings and needs that you wish you could hide in the closet until the children are bigger or there’s more time in a day. Now, right next to each one of those authentic mommy-moments, write the name of someone you trust. Make a date with that person. Give them a call. Or, write them an email, even if you choose never to send it. Ask for help. Ask for a hug. Ask for reassurance that you are not the only mom who feels this way.
This Mother’s Day give yourself the gift of being supported. You are loved and admired just as you are.
Karen Deerwester is the owner of Family Time Coaching & Consulting, writing and lecturing on parenting and early childhood topics since 1984. Karen is also the Mommy & Me director at The Ruth and Edward Taubman Early Childhood Center at B�nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton.
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