Mommy judgement. Mommy guilt. These are constant topics in magazines and blogs aimed at mothers and they need to be. So many moms, myself included, need daily reminders that we are all doing ok and there’s nothing to feel guilty about.
One of the hardest lessons for me to learn as a mom is the advice we have been told over and over since we were children ourselves – be yourself. It seems so simple, but it’s harder than many realize. Whether you’re a single mom, married mom, older mom, younger mom, working mom, stay at home mom, there is always some ideal we formulate that we never seem to attain. We are often convinced we are inadequate, a failure, clueless, different, weird. We are an embarrassment to little Johnny who is going to move across the country as soon as he graduates from high school, only call at Christmas, and write about how his mother screwed him up in his memoirs.
Some of the judgement we feel is completely fabricated in our own imagination. Sometimes it is all too real. But there are more important consequences of denying your own voice than condescending side eyes when you bring Walmart cupcakes to the bake sale. Not being authentic and true to yourself robs you of your joy and deprives your children of the gift of knowing who you really are.
As someone who has struggled with depression, I know there is no faster way down that path than by denying your own needs and desires. Once the perfect 2.5 kids and a dog life I always wanted fell apart, I was lost. I was torn apart with guilt for not being able to give my kids the perfect life. I stopped listening to my own voice and tried to live up to the expectations of others, sometimes real, sometimes imagined. I tried desperately to shove myself into a mold I didn’t fit in. I was an expert level player of the comparison game. My perfectionism paralyzed me with fear.
It’s OK to Be the Weird Mom
Then I woke up one day and wondered why I felt so empty and miserable. It has been a long journey, but my path back to happiness has centered around accepting my quirky, weird, wonderful, authentic self and learning to listen to my own voice. Once I committed to doing that, it is like a light turned on with my life, especially as a mother. I see it in my kids and it is a wonderful feeling knowing I am a better mom because I have embraced my own, authentic values.
But perhaps the most important thing about giving our children the gift of authenticity is by doing so, we give our children permission to also be their true selves. Whether it’s embracing their own quirks, or the courage to pursue a talent, our kids will always shine brightest when they are true to themselves. As mothers we can help bring that light out into the world by being brave enough to do the same.