I’ve been reflecting on the huge amount of pressure to be a ‘perfect’ mum that I put upon myself, and how this is not good for my self esteem and confidence….
I’ve been a mummy for nearly 8months now, and I think the thing I’m finding the hardest at the moment is the self-imposed pressure I put myself under daily. Yes, my daughter’s behaviour is challenging at times, but it’s fairly normal for her age & circumstance/history, and it’s manageable. I struggle way more with my feelings of failure and inadequacy when things don’t go right.
I’ve been trying to think about why I’m struggling so much with these thoughts. I think it’s partly due to feeling that because my daughter had such a difficult start in life, that I have to make up for that and be a super-mum and get everything perfect. Of course I’m human and it doesn’t go perfect at all, so I’ve set myself up to fail straight away. Maybe it’s because I feel like I have to prove to myself and others that I am a good mum, and any slight hint of not being a good mum makes me feel a failure, again making me believe that I am not doing a good job. Maybe it’s because I passed al those interviews and tests, and theoretically proved I would be a good mum, but in reality I struggle to be patient, empathetic and loving all the time. I promised to be better than ‘good enough’ in my parenting, but sometimes I know that i don’t even make good enough. Do I feel that I’m not living up to what I promised? Maybe it’s because I’m naturally quite a perfectionist, and love for things to be ordered & predictable. having a child has turned this upside down, and it’s taking some time to come to terms with this, almost a loss of control on my own life. Maybe I spend too much time on twitter and instagram where I see supposedily perfect looking families and parents who appear to be able to therapeutically parent 24/7. I know deep down that neither of these is the reality, but it doesn’t hep my fragile parenting self esteem. Maybe it’s because I’m scared of damaging her more, and causing her to be unhappy.
On a bad day, when I know I haven’t been the best parent I can, my little girl can (seemingly) get over a disagreement almost instantly. (although I do worry that she stores all her memories of my less than perfect moments), it can take me a long time to calm down and move on with the day. I feel an over whelming sense of self disappointment and shame that’s difficult to shake off. It’s physically and mentally exhausting.
So, what am I (trying) to do to improve the situation? I think the 1st thing I need to (continue) to do is recognise that some of these feelings are actually a good thing as they demonstrate that I do care deeply, and want to get it right. However I need to learn to maybe tone them down and not be so negative. I am trying to be more like my 3year old, to forgive (hopefully forget) and move on quickly. Instead of being physically distant I’m trying to be more physically available for more cuddles etc. I’m trying to talk about whats happened more with both my daughter, and later with my husband. This way I can reflect, and give space to voice the feelings rather than let them get stronger inside. We’re trying to work on recognising and naming feelings with our daughter, and I think it helps that she see’s that adults do have feelings too. I make sure I say sorry to her if I have done wrong, to acknowledge that mummy was wrong, but she’s sorry. This helps me to stop, reflect and move on quickly. I need to remember that social media is just a snapshot of people’s lives, and they are not all as rosy as they might appear.
I’m trying to remember that in 8 short months since placement we’ve come so far, and our daughter is (all things considered) doing amazingly. We all feel very settled as a family, and she seems really well attached to us. She is growing up very quickly, learning lots of new things every week. She is liked by everyone she knows and is gaining confidence in all areas. She clearly loves me and wants to be with me. She is happy to see me again when we’ve been apart. Everyone has said how well we’re doing. I need to believe this more, and to believe that she wouldn’t be doing so well if I wasn’t a good mum. I must be doing something right.
Today was a good day, minimal tantrums (that’s from either of us) so it was quite easy to reflect on how I’m feeling and try to be positive, I just need to remember my own advice to myself when things don’t go quite to plan. I also need to remember I am a great mum!!!