‘Super Mom, Super Wife, Super Tired‘ OR SUPER Bunch of B.S.
In my last post I talked about how your child’s health is reflective of your health as a mother and why it is so important for moms to practice self-care for their sake and their family’s. Around mother’s day I started receiving sponsored ads on my Facebook feed that tried to sell me shirts and badges that would apparently make ideal gifts because they said, ‘Super Mom, Super Wife, Super Tired.‘
Don’t get me wrong, I know moms do amazing work—and nothing moves me more in this world than the protective and fierce instinct of a mother. To often mother’s intuition is brushed off as hysteria and unscientific. Mothers are powerful, and yes—at times—superhuman. They have been known to lift cars off the ground to pry their trapped child free, thanks to the primal mama-bear adrenaline that kicks in when their young is endangered.
Is Being Proud of Being Exhausted, Sick and Miserable the New Black?
Being a mom is also undeniably exhausting— and of course self-sacrificing—like I’m talking years of sacrificing sleep! I gave up plenty for my daughter—some things permanently and others temporarily. But I have to think that something is seriously dysfunctional about a culture that moves from acknowledging how exhausting motherhood can be to taking pride in the exhaustion and loss of health and sanity. If we start wearing exhaustion and misery as a trophy that makes us more worthy as mothers—than we are not only hurting ourselves, but the women around us and our own children.
I know I certainly don’t want my daughter to become a mombie and I don’t want her husband to think she is less of a woman because she isn’t. So please, make a belated mother’s day resolution for yourself—be proud of how you are raising your children.
You may be exhausted and just surviving—and that’s okay too. Don’t feel guilty about that–because we all go through periods of ‘just surviving’. The real problem starts in the moment you start taking pride and deriving a sense of self-worth from it. This is where you set yourself up for a dysfunctional core believe that a ‘good mom’ is exhausted and just-surviving. How could you ever begin to still feel like the great mom you are AND practice wellness and self-care with that way of thinking?
Your Child Thrives When You Thrive!
I have learned first-hand that if mom doesn’t take care of her health she won’t have the energy, strength or patience to properly care for her children whether they are struggling with school, with their health or just every day run-of-the-mill ‘kid stuff’. I also know that if our children are not well—our first move is to cross our own self-care off the priority list.
“But my child needs me,” you want to say.
Damn straight they do! They are struggling and they need YOU. All of you—your whole you—not a broken, exhausted you. They need the best version of YOU. Your child’s health and wellness depends on it.
You’re Right–You Don’t Have Time
When I went from barely surviving to wilting, my physical and mental health went out the window. I was exhausted, anxious, in constant pain (sometimes to the point of passing out), depressed and burnt-out. I knew what I ‘should’ be eating and what I ‘should’ be doing, but like everyone else—I struggled to apply it in my own life.
“I don’t have time,” I said.
You want to know when you find time? There are two answers to that.
When you have no other choice, but to make time. You don’t ever find time. You create it.
That’s what happened to me. I actually reached a point where I wished that I was dead because I couldn’t stand the pain, the suffering, the exhaustion. So I consulted with every specialist and read every book and learned my body wasn’t a lemon— my lifestyle was! I needed to change. My life needed to change.
Then because when life falls apart, it all falls apart together—my daughter started having her own health issues. I had worked as an elementary school teacher for nearly a decade by then and in an instant I understood the depths of worry, desperation and even despair of every concerned mother I had ever sat with at a parent-teacher interview. The little progress I was starting to make with my own health fell away because I was so fixated on my daughter’s situation.
Taking Care of YOU Means Taking Care of Your Child
Suddenly, I got what my own mother went through in raising one son with ADHD, another with dyslexia and my own struggles with learning in elementary school. For years she ran to specialists, attended classes, went to meetings, sat at the kitchen table doing homework and read all the books—desperate to ensure that her children would be okay.
My mother did not have images of show-boat success or look-what-an-amazing-mother-I-am on her mind. She just wanted her children to ‘make it’ like everyone else’s. I know that she did everything she could for her children— including putting her own health and needs at the bottom of her priority list. It seems genetically programmed that when your child is failing in life, that you too feel as though you are failing as a mother.
I know this is not true. What I know is true is that it is in your genetics to do anything and everything for your child’s well-being. Often, out of misguided wisdom, you put your own health and self-care on the back burner. I saw my mother do it. I did it. Women do it every day, for years, for decades—sometimes for a lifetime.
Self-Care is Child-Care
But here’s what I have learned. When you do this, your children suffer even more—as do you. You lose clarity and sight. When you invest in self-care, you have more energy, more imagination and you are more resourceful. This allows you to be more able to have the energy and find the solutions to your child’s struggles in a way that you never would have thought of before.
When you take the time to take care of you, you are actually taking time to care for your children. Your children have a more relaxed, happy and easy-going mom instead of a crazy-psycho with YOYO mood swings. Deep down, you know this. Yet, you still can’t shake your old habits until you understand that the mombie epidemic is not a biochemical virus, but one of psycho-social origin: guilt and shame.
Yeah. You know the feeling I’m talking about.
Mombie Guilt is Ruining You and Your Kids
So let me tell you about guilt. You know what the number one challenge I face when working with women? I’ll give you a hint—it’s not meal planning, knowing what to eat or learning how to ride the sugar-craving wave.
It’s trying to get women to truly understand that their needs are as important as everyone else’s in their family. That’s why when I meet with women, I don’t start with asking about their diet or levels of physical exercise. I ask them to list their priorities in terms of what they are actually or currently doing in their life. They are usually at the bottom of their list. Big surprise, eh?
Self-Care – The Mombie Antidote
My greatest challenge is getting moms to find time to practice self-care—even ten minutes of self-care! Mindfulness, meditation, a few stretches, light weights, a hot bath, reading a good book, twenty-five minutes of meal planning for the week— a nap!
“I don’t have time”, they tell me. Okay—so some of that is definitely resistance. Resistance and fear of change. Playing the ‘amazing mom’ card can definitely be a great excuse, but I do believe it’s more than resistance and self-sabotage.
It’s the image of what a good mom should be doing. It’s the image of the good mom that you have seen fifty-five thousand times this week in TV commercials, magazines, TV shows, movies and the one at the park who supposedly takes the time to fold her fitted sheets. As if!
It’s the idea that someday your child could be sitting on some shrink’s couch telling their shrink how you didn’t do this or should have done that. Well guess what? I know a few therapists and they say even children from the best families can still end up in a shrink’s office. There’s always something more that could have been done.
You know what I wish my mom had done? I wish that she would have taken better care of herself. That’s it. I wish that she would have valued herself as much as she valued the needs of my brothers, myself and my father. So you see, you can’t win. So quit trying. My bend-over-backwards-mom still has a daughter complaining about what mom should have done.
Getting Comfy with Guilt
My daughter is eight and by the time she was five I got real comfortable with the feeling of mommy-guilt. I realized it was likely with me for life—a feeling that would pop up here and there and doesn’t actually reveal anything about my actual competencies as a mom.
I keep my sessions with mommy-guilt brief. Of course, like all feelings, guilt can be a messenger. I check in—see if there is any truth to the story I’m hearing—if there is anything I need to change and then plan accordingly. I then politely tell guilt that it’s time to hit the road.
If you’re feeling guilty about self-care then you’re ego-tripping for certain. When you practice self-care, you are teaching your children to do the same. When you practice self-care, you are teaching your children to respect you because you are of value. If you want your children to be healthy and calm—it’s simple—practice being healthy.
Mombie Recovery – Surviving to Thriving
Imagine that! You and your child thriving together. Imagine taking charge of your eating and both you and your child’s brain and body health improve at the same time. Imagine your child’s challenges improving simply because you are! Imagine your own health and wellness improving because your child is finally moving from surviving to thriving.
Remember Einstein said:
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
If you want what you have never had, you have to be willing to do what you have never before done.
What more can you possibly do? Something different. Something saner. Something for both YOU and your children.
Teaching your children that everyone has equal value is one of the greatest lessons they can learn. So please, make a pledge to yourself to practice self-care—for your sake and everyone else’s. Find at least twenty-minutes each day that is time exclusively for you. Be an aspiring nombie (that’s short for not-a-zombie-mom). Your children and the world will be better for it.
If you want to learn more about how you and your child can thrive in brain-body health, sign up for my emails at the bottom of this page or schedule a consult.