I am a scary mom if I don't take breaks.
I yell more.
I spank more.
Everybody gets a timeout.
I get more frustrated.
I can't think straight.
I feel anxious.
I can't think clearly.
I become a person I don't like for myself, my kids, my family, for anyone. I feel like the worst example and I see myself as a monster.
I don't like myself when that happens, it makes me swirl into disappointment and instant regret. It's the furthest thing from happiness and there's nothing that makes me feel worse as a mother than this feeling of solid guilt.
Motherhood is an all day job. It's also an all-night job sometimes and it's nonstop. It's beautiful, but it can also be ugly. It brings you life but also sucks the life out of you. It brings you purpose but makes you question yourself regularly.
All in all, motherhood is hard.
I used to pride myself on the doing. 'I don't need help' and 'no thanks', were always at the top of my vocabulary. I didn't need anybody...
Until one day I lost my marbles and snapped. On everybody, for every little thing, and I cried.
What am I crying about, I thought. I literally couldn't hold myself back.
My kids were looking at me worried and asking if I was okay.
I wasn't. I needed a break.
Who am I and what am I even doing?
When you're younger, you think adults have all the answers. They just do, they're older, wiser, and they always tell us what to do.
When you're older, you realize how little you actually know.
Life is just one long cycle of growth. You learn you grow. You fail, you grow. You adapt, you grow. You love, you grow.
I stopped myself that day and had a conversation with my kids. The older ones were old enough to have one and the babies, well, you guessed it, they didn't quite care yet 😉
I'm sorry for getting so frustrated you guys, I'm learning along with you. I've never been a mom before and I'm sorry for being so angry.
The reality is, I was trying to be a superhero.
For what though?
There are no trophies awarded for not asking for help.
There is no trophy for motherhood perfect attendance.
Not taking a break ever? No trophies there either.
Sitting down having the conversation with my less than attentive children, I had two big realizations.
1. I need to take breaks to be a good mom.
To this day, I still struggle with this and I catch myself making excuses for not being able to get away. The kids have activities, or I don't want to splurge on myself and get a massage, or I think I can go a little longer until I really need one...
It's a tough one.
That damn mom guilt is always creeping around the corner ready to smirk at you when you're ready for that break. I'm still learning to smirk back and go.
But breaking away sometimes is necessary.
And guess what, when you do go and take that break, the guilt that may have been there when you were leaving is not there when you come back. More times than not, the kids are happy af and sometimes forgot you left. Beyond that, you come back (somewhat) refreshed and life goes on with a big ole smile.
Your separation will help with sanity, patience, reconnecting with your kids, appreciation for your spouse and overall quality of life.
2. Asking for help makes you a superhero
In the past, you'd hear 'it takes a village' to raise a child. Well, that part hasn't changed. The villages are still there but they don't show up for you unless you show up for them. Reaching out to the village is also known as, asking for help.
Why do we feel so prideful? Why do we love the isolation and PTSD of doing everything ourselves? For me, the 'I'll sail my own boat' approach was suffocating and making me a very resentful mom. I was mad at the world. My husband for working. My friends and family for 'not knowing' and just taking them from me anyway so I could get a break.
- Miss, would you like help carrying your groceries to your car? Yup.
- Sweetie, can Grandpa and I watch the kids so you guys can enjoy a night away. Solid yes.
- I'm heading to the store, need anything your neighbor asks. Absolutely yes.
- Babe, heading home from work, want me to pick up the kids and take them to the park so you can have some time to yourself. God yes, hurry.
- Can I come over and watch your newborn so you can sleep? How fast can you get here?!
These are examples of the villages that are there to help you. Use them, if they are asking and there is no risk of death, your answer is yes.
I'd catch myself being panicked and frustrated yet making excuses why my husband couldn't take them off my hands for a bit.
But, dinner is almost ready. They'll be late to bed tonight. I think she needs me...
Sure those things may throw off the schedule a bit, but the excuses had to go for the superhero to show up.
I'm still learning to let the village in, but without a doubt, asking for help makes life better. It brings your tribe closer. It makes you feel like an individual and also a mom. It makes you appreciate your family more. It allows the tough times to feel a little less trying. It takes the unnecessary weight off your shoulders.
I'm still over here trying to grow through life and create the happiest life possible. I still have ups and downs, frustrating days, and imperfect responses to the chaotic days. These are a couple of the things I've learned that make motherhood a bit more satisfying - more to come as the lessons roll in.
What about you? Do you take breaks? Do you let your village in? What do you do when you get some time to recharge by yourself? What are your biggest parenting regrets?
Cheering for you.