As cheesy as it sounds, I don't think I realized how damaging my own self-talk was until I had a baby and was staying home with her (and only her) all day long. Every day, at certain moments, I would get so down on myself and my lack of perceived success at being a mom. It took a conscious effort to change that inner monologue, as well as leaning on a few quotes I like to remember when I felt like I was failing as a mom.
When you are home alone with a new baby who can barely make an expression, let alone talk back to you, it's very easy to get inside your own head and start down a vicious spiral of thinking you're not doing a good enough job. And, unfortunately, sometimes you're the only person who can pull yourself out of that spiral. Having a few quotes in your back pocket is useful when things start to get dire.
Before I had a baby, I used to have to pump myself up to go out for a run by telling myself, "If you left when you started thinking about it, you'd be done by now." Now that I have a daughter, the inner script has changed. Now, I'm constantly telling myself, "Babies are not robots, babies are not robots." It's a good thing I don't usually say it out loud, because it makes me sound a little nutty. However, it's what keeps me from going bananas when my daughter doesn't nap when she's supposed to or only wants to eat sugar snacks for dinner.
Here are a few more extra-helpful quotes that have gotten me through those tough days of motherhood:
"Babies Are Not Robots."
(Except when they are, apparently.)
This is a direct quote from my mother, and it was the single most useful thing I would repeat to myself when my baby was struggling to nap or when I was worried if she was eating enough. My mom said it to me when we were starting to sleep train my daughter. Babies are not robots. You cannot expect them to perform exactly the way you want them to every single time. That's just not realistic. When my daughter wanted to be held instead of napping in her bassinet or when she really wouldn't finish more than a few ounces of a bottle, it didn't mean I was doing something wrong, it just meant she's not a robot and won't perform the same every time.
(Quote by my mother.)
"Life Is Tough, My Darling, But So Are You."
Sometimes, in those long days with a baby or toddler, I just had to remind myself that I was tougher than what was I was being asked to accomplish or deal with. When you feel like you're failing as a mom (which you really aren't), you need to give yourself an inner pep talk. Remind yourself that you are tough, even when life itself feels tough.
(Quote from Stephanie Bennett-Henry)
"You Don't Have To Be Perfect To Be Amazing."
Ain't that a simple truth we often forget as moms. There is absolutely no reason to beat ourselves up for not reaching absolute perfection. Less than perfect still makes you an amazing mom for your kids.
(Quote by me.)
"Courage Doesn't Always Roar. Sometimes Courage Is The Little Voice At The End Of The Day That Says, 'I'll Try Again Tomorrow.'"
Some nights, I'd go to bed completely exhausted and feeling like a complete failure. The house was a disaster, the baby was grumpy or fussy all day, and I could barely keep my eyes open long enough to get the bottles into the dishwasher before falling asleep. But before I went to bed, I would try to remember this quote. Tomorrow is always an opportunity to start over, even if you've got a few wake-ups before the sun rises again.
(Quote from Mary Ann Radmacher)
"Don't Ruin A Good Today By Thinking About A Bad Yesterday."
Likewise, dwelling on yesterday isn't terribly helpful, unless it's pushing you to make a better plan. There's no need to keep punishing yourself for a bad day, that only makes the new day worse than it has to be.
(Quote by me.)
"Let It Go."
Let's just all channel our inner Elsa today and repeat as dramatically as possible: Let. It. Go. Just let it go. Don't fixate or fret, just let it go and move on to the next nap or the next cuddle.
(Quote by Elsa, from Frozen.)
"Courage, Dear Heart."
I always feel extra dramatic when I remember this C.S. Lewis quote. I try to use it in the most dramatic situations, like when my daughter has just had an enormous blow-out diaper and I'm trying to figure out how not to get poop on every surface between here and the bathtub. "Courage, dear heart! You can accomplish this mission!"
(Quote by C.S. Lewis.)
"Excuse Me, I Have To Go Be Awesome."
Sometimes you just have to interrupt your annoying inner monologue (or should we say momologue?) and get back to being awesome. I know that the easiest thing to do as a mom is to is get stuck in an endless cycle of, "I wasn't good enough," or, "Why can't I do more?" Instead, remind yourself that you are awesome and carry on as though you are.
(Quote by me.)
"You Don't Have To See The Whole Staircase, Just Take The First Step."
Martin Luther King Jr. is always good for the motivational quotes, isn't he? This one applies to everything motherhood, from tackling another pile of laundry to getting out of bed to feed a whining baby. Luckily, in the case of those exhausting motherhood tasks, taking the first step usually gets you halfway there.
(Quote by Martin Luther King Jr.)
"Every Day May Not Be Good, But There Is Something Good In Every Day."
When I was decompressing after a bad day, and being extra hard on myself as a mom, my husband would often ask me what was the best thing in the day. It was always something our daughter did or the way she looked or had a cute expression, and it made me remember this quote. No day is going to be 100 percent wonderful, but there is 100 percent chance there might be something wonderful in that day if you take a minute to look for it. And on those odd days when you can't think of a single good thing, just break out the chocolate and know that tomorrow is a new day.
(Quote by me.)