The moment my son was placed into my arms, I was acutely aware that I was never going to be good enough for him. Not the most positive thought, I know, but my flaws came bubbling to the surface the moment I looked into his eyes and I knew that, to me, he would always be perfect and I never would be. I knew I would mess up and I knew I would make mistakes and I knew I would get frustrated. I didn't know, however, the things your kid wants you to know when you feel like quitting the whole parenting thing; things that put everything back into perspective; things that I need to remind myself of when I'm so exhausted and overwhelmed that getting into my car and driving into the sunset sounds just too damn good.
I think every parent (mom or dad) has those moments when they feel like just quitting. I also know that so many parents (especially mothers) don't feel like they can talk about or even admit to having that very real, very understandable feeling. Unfortunately our society continues to hold onto some very outdated and unnecessary gender stereotypes that equate motherhood to the end-all-be-all of every woman's identity. So, what kind of a woman are you if you don't absolutely love and cherish every single aspect of motherhood, even if it's driving you insane and keeping you from sleeping and throwing plastic toys at your face? In my opinion, a normal one. Feeling fed up and stressed out is normal, and more mothers need to hear that there's absolutely nothing wrong with them, or their parenting, when they feel like running away and leaving motherhood behind.
So, in the name of honesty and transparency, I am more than willing to admit that I have felt like giving up on motherhood all-together. I have experienced more than my fair share of moments that make me feel like I just can't be someone else's mom for another single second. In those moments, it helps to take a step back and tell myself all the things I think my son would want me to know. They're the same things I saw in his eyes when I held him for the first time, and felt incredibly incapable. They're the things that remind me that even when I feel like quitting or feel like I'm failing, my son sees what I can't see: a wonderful mother.
"You Can Do This"
It's so easy to forget that you really are capable of handling whatever motherhood (or life, in general) throws at you.
I'll never forget the first time I felt like giving up and like maybe, just maybe, I wasn't good enough to be my son's mom. It was a few weeks after he was born and I was behind on a work deadline. I was trying to type while breastfeeding my son, burning lunch on the kitchen stove and, sadly, hadn't had a shower in far too long. I was crying and I felt so overwhelmed and in that moment I couldn't help but feel like I was failing at every single aspect of my life. A few seconds later my son stopped eating, looked up and right into my eyes, and smiled. I would like to think that it was his way of saying, "Hey, calm down mom. You got this. Look at me, I'm happy. You're doing great."
"I Don't Mean To Be This Frustrating..."
It's not like kids are trying to upset you or overwhelm you or push you to the end of your metaphorical rope (especially babies). Kids aren't innately manipulative or vindictive. I mean, they don't even know where their belly buttons or (or what their belly buttons are), let alone what those words mean.
"...Or Maybe I Do, But I Don't Realize How Frustrating I'm Actually Being"
Then again, now that my son is a 2-year-old toddler I can tell when he's testing boundaries (and on purpose). Of course, this is part of his development and a necessary part of toddlerhood and I know that even when his boundary-pushing is driving me crazy, that's not why my son is doing it or why it's happening. At all.
My son doesn't understand the many things I deal with on a daily basis, nor should he. He's being a kid and can't see the bigger picture and that's his job; to be the kid and enjoy the small world I have created and continue to cultivate for him. I get to stress about the big stuff and even when it's overwhelming, I would rather be overwhelmed than have it affect my son. So, his boundary pushing is necessary and it's not to drive me insane, but to help my son learn.
"I Look To You As A Source Of Stability"
I know my son gets to be a crazy little toddler because, to him, I'm the stable foundation he can jump on. When I feel like quitting, it's not because I don't love my son or love being a mom; it's because that foundation he relies on is cracking and buckling under the pressure being put on it (by society, by my son, by my partner and my job and, yes, by myself).
So, in those moments when I just want to throw my hands up and say, "Nope. I'm out," I remind myself that my presence is actually calming and soothing to and for my son (even when it doesn't feel that way). He's acting out or throwing a tantrum because he knows I will never, ever leave him.
"It's OK To Take A Break..."
You don't need to keep metaphorically killing yourself in order to prove you're a good mother. You don't need to push yourself to the point of exhaustion in the name of parenthood. You need, and deserve, a break.
"...Because You're Human And You Deserve Self-Care"
Becoming a mother doesn't magically endow you with super-powers that keep you from needing very basic human things. You know, things like sleep and silence and self-care and a good book and some human interaction with other grown adults and that can say complete sentences and know how to use a toilet.
"I'm At My Best When You Take Care Of Yourself, Too"
You're the best mom you can be when you're feeling your best. It's that simple. Your kid (I'm guessing) is at their happiest when you're at your happiest, which is why self-care is important and you need (and should) take time to focus on you and only you.
Do whatever you need to do, separate from your family, to find neutral and refill your proverbial gas tank. Your kid will thank you for it. Trust me.
"There's No Such Thing As A 'Perfect' Parent"
No, but really. Don't let the social media posts and the filtered pictures fool you. Don't hold yourself to some ridiculous standard that doesn't exist.
If you're feeling like you need a break or you're about to go insane or you just don't want to mom anymore, it's not because you're failing. Instead, it's because you're human. It's not because you don't love being a mother, it's because you are momming so hard you need to rest and share some of the responsibility with someone else and have some "me time."
"One Day, I'll Understand"
Your kid doesn't get it now and, honestly, they shouldn't. I know that even when I feel like I would benefit from my son knowing more about the pressures I feel on a daily basis — or just what's it like to be an adult at all — that's horrifically unfair. I want him to be a child for as long as possible. I want him to be blissfully unaware of just how difficult it all is and can be, until he experiences it for himself (if he chooses).
However, one day my son will know. He'll be an adult and maybe he'll be in a partnership and, perhaps, he'll even have a child or children of his own. He will figure it out and, when that day comes, I'm sure I'll get the very same phone calls my mother did, just a few days after my son was born (and every week since).
"You're Doing A Great Job At Being My Mom"
Is your kid fed on a regular basis? Are they healthy? Are they happy, even when they're upset or throwing a tantrum? Are they thriving and learning every day?
If the answer to all of the above is a resounding "yes," you're doing wonderfully. You might feel differently and you might feel like you're not "good enough" or you're failing or you're one mistake away from giving up, but you're doing a great job and if your kid could articulate that undeniable fact to you, they would.
"I Love You"
When all else fails, remember that your kid loves you.
They love you when they're throwing a tantrum and they love you when they're testing boundaries and they love you even when they're yelling and screaming and telling you the hate you. They love you so much it doesn't even occur to them that you could possibly leave their lives. To them, that would be like the sun falling out of the sky. So, when you're feeling like you just can't anymore, remember that you're their sun and even on their worst days that make you feel like giving up, they know you'll still rise with them in the morning.