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Hanging on when I am clearly failing at motherhood
I've been battling a case of the "Shoulds," those little thoughts that tell me I am simply not good enough. - photo by Erin Stewart
Ive been battling a terrible case of the Shoulds lately.

These are the creepy little thoughts that peck away at a mothers brain all day, reminding her of how she is falling short.

I should be more present. I should make healthier dinners. I should keep my house tidier. I should be more fun. Laugh more. Sleep more. Exercise more. Volunteer more.

And then, just when I think I cant handle one more of these Shoulds, there is inevitably some viral video or magazine article (or newspaper article just like this one!) telling me I should just enjoy my children because they are growing up so fast and I only get 940 weeks from birth to graduation with my babies.

But instead of inspiring me, these well-intentioned motivational memes and articles simply make me panic. I should be basking in the joy of motherhood more. I should be ignoring the Shoulds.

Unfortunately, I think all moms go through times when we cant push out the Shoulds, no matter how much we want to. They bite at us taunting us and telling us were not good enough. We are failing where other mothers seem to perpetually succeed.

Its exhausting.

And yes, I know its all in my head. But my head is a weird, wonderful place that does a lot of things I wish it wouldnt.

So here it is ready for it? The big, epiphany moment at the end of the article? The big discovery about myself and motherhood that reminds me why everything is going to be OK? (Drum roll please )

Sorry to disappoint, but this isnt that type of article. I have no big answers today no grand realization of how to silence the Shoulds. The fact is, they are loud right now loud and bossy and bullying.

So instead of an "aha!" moment, I offer this instead to any other mothers out there who are locked in a battle with the Shoulds: It will pass. Just keep moving.

Perhaps that sounds kind of defeatist and depressing. I like to think of it as realistic. As mothers and women, we have highs and lows. We have days when the Shoulds scream at us, and then we have days where we take walks with our little ones and stop to pick flowers and think the world is a pretty wonderful place and we are pretty wonderful mothers.

So while Im waiting on those flower-picking moments, Ill just keep moving. Ill keep mothering and doing my best because thats all I can do. These days will pass. The Shoulds will get quieter for a time they always do.

In the meantime, Ill just tell myself the same thing I tell my daughter when she wakes in the night with a bad dream: Its OK to be sad. Its OK to cry. Everybody has these thoughts sometime. But hang on a little longer because soon it will be morning and all these bad thoughts will be a memory.

To all the mothers like me waiting for morning hold on a little longer. Youre not alone, and youre doing better than you think you are. I just thought you should know.
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