The Hardest Part Of Motherhood Nobody Told You About

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When becoming a mother for the first time, you know a ton about motherhood already.

Everybody warns you will sleep less.

They say you will be more in love with that baby than you’ve ever thought possible.

You educate yourself about colic, different feeding methods, why babies may cry and how to make sure they are healthy.

You hear stories after stories and advice upon advice about motherhood.

Your doctor or midwife prepares you for the physical and hormonal changes that are to come your way.

Family, friends, books and many other resources (including this blog) have already prepared you for all the baby essentials you need and if you haven’t read about it already, here’s all you need to know about birth and hospital.

You’re ready.

Or so you thought.

Then that little bundle is born, and slowly life goes on.

That’s when you realize that there’s the hardest part of motherhood nobody ever told you about.

The books didn’t explain it.

Your friends and family seemingly forgot to mention it.

And you sure as heck didn’t see it coming.

Everybody experiences the hardest part of motherhood, but not everybody ends up at it the same way

Depending on personality, past experiences and current situations, the hardest part of motherhood may look a little different for each and every mother out there.

The only thing for sure is that you will face it.

In this post, I am going to tell you all about it so you will have a much better understanding of what the hardest part of motherhood is and how to tackle it head-on. 

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The Hardest Part Of Motherhood Nobody Told You About

Without a doubt in my mind, the hardest part of motherhood is feeling like we failed.

Let’s take that in for a minute.

Why am I not talking about the loss of a child, or miscarriage or special needs kids to take care of?

Or why am I not addressing step-parenting, single parenting or financial difficulties?

Those are all undoubtedly difficult and painful situations to live through, but not everybody will experience them in their motherhood journey.

We all have our own set of burdens to carry but it is different for everybody.

However, I’m sure that the feeling of failure as moms eventually knocks on every person’s door.

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Why Do We Feel Like We Failed In Motherhood?

There are many reasons why at some point, we throw our hands up and say: I feel like I completely failed.

Maybe you promised not to yell as much and work on using a gentle voice when correcting, yet you just lashed out with anger and loud words.

Maybe you work a lot and don’t seem to be able to get home in time to see your kids still awake.

Maybe you struggle with guilt over having a child you can’t connect with as well as with the rest.

Maybe you are struggling with mental illness and only wish to be able to feel normal again.

Maybe you are alone and scared and aren’t making the best decisions.

Maybe your marriage failed and you feel like your children are in ruins.

Or maybe, no matter how hard you try, how much you invest emotionally and financially, how much you read and educate yourself, you still feel like you aren’t everything you ever wanted to be for your children.

I struggle with this last one the most and I would bet you do too.

We fail because we have built up an idea of what kind of mothers we would like to be, an expectation of what a good mother should be and a list of things we never, ever want to describe us as moms.

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Why Feeling Like A Failure Is Ruining Your Parenting

When you operate from a place of defeat and failure, several things can happen.

You become reactive to any criticism

Hearing your kids or spouse complain about something you did or giving you negative feedback shuts you down.

This makes it impossible for you to hear and accept their feelings for what they are and instead hear them as attacks directed at you as a person.

You stop trying

Feeling like a failure may push you to completely stop making even the smallest difference, because what’s the point?

You stop trying to grow and learn. You stop trying to apologize or give someone a second chance.

You live in doubt

When you feel like you’ve failed, you will constantly question every single decision you make.

You become hesitant and the constant chatter of guilt in the back of your mind doesn’t let you have a minute of peace.

You harden yourself

Or you may react by hardening and just go through the motions all the while pretending you aren’t really hurting inside.

You may be able to still execute all your daily tasks and responsibilities of motherhood, but your heart is not in it.

You disconnect

Who wants to spend time and be together with people that make them feel like a failure? (reality or not)

So you may disconnect and stop wanting to spend quality time with your children.

Parenting from a sense of failure and defeat will not make you a better mom. It will bring you down deeper and push you farther into believing that you aren’t any good at this.

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How Do We Stop Feeling Like We Failed As Moms?

It’s not whether you will ever feel like you failed as a mom at some point, it’s what you will do when you face this hardest part of motherhood.

You Get Support

It is absolutely crucial that you surround yourself with a few people that unconditionally accept and support you. These are the people you will reach out to when you feel like an utter failure.

Of course, it would be amazing if you had a “whole village” to hold you up.

But you don’t have to have a lot of people if that’s not your reality. Just one trusty friend or relative is all you need.

When I got married to Mr. Army Strong, I moved to the States, leaving behind everything I have ever known growing up, all my family and relatives, friends and the familiar environment.

I did not realize until much later, how difficult it is to build up friendships completely from scratch in a different culture.

Almost every valuable relationship I have here was a direct result of conscious decisions of spending time and building up that connection, often for years.

I get that it’s hard to surround yourself, but I will also be the first one to say, when you do have your village, you appreciate it like gold.

Practical tips to get you started:

Set a goal to talk to a new mom at your church/playgroup/ playground, etc. Make a conscious effort to get to know them a little bit and if you feel you may be a good fit for a friendship, get that phone number and hang out.

You Set Your Mind Right

There’s a reason why I emphasize “feeling like a failure” as the hardest part of motherhood.

It is more often than not just a very heavy feeling.

It is an absolutely valid and real emotion and you should never stuff it down or discount it.

But once you are ready to find a way out, be honest with yourself and realize that you are the only person telling yourself that you failed.

It’s your mind that’s playing tricks on you, your perception and your judgment.

Practical tips to get you started:

Write down why you feel like a failure. Don’t hold back.

Then counter each and every sentence with another sentence that starts like this:

“I may feel like that now, but in reality, I {add something specific you know is a fact about you or the situation}.

For me it looks like this:

-I feel like I am hostile against my stepdaughter and cannot ever seem to be kind.

Counter-statement: “I may feel like that now, but in reality, I was kind last night when I hugged her when she was sad”.

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You Set The Relationship Right

There are those times when you actually did mess up and failed as a mom.

You are still NOT a failure, but you did cause hurt and you need to deal with that. Set your heart right by realizing what you did wrong and be willing to say you are sorry.

Practical tips to get you started:

Apologize as specifically as you can for the hurt you caused. Even if you don’t understand why you were perceived that way, the fact that your child is hurt is more important.

Don’t expect forgiveness. If you apologize for forgiveness, you put even more pressure on the hurt person. Of course, you want the relationship restored and be forgiven, but it is your child’s choice. (hint: kids are often very very quick to forgive)

You Set Your Heart Right

I believe that while a sense of failure as a mom also comes from actually doing something wrong, the feeling can also stem from the condemnation that you aren’t good enough.

Nobody is good enough. The only person ever good enough was Jesus Christ, who came to Earth and is the Son of God. He died so he can take all your failures on him (real or perceived) and he rose from the dead so He can give you a fresh start.

You may not be religious and skim over this, but if you have been desperately looking for an answer, He is it.

Practical tips to get you started:

Pray:

“Jesus, I have heard a lot about you but I am not so sure. Please show me who you are and how you can help me out of feeling like I am a failure and not good enough”.

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You Lower Your Expectations

Aren’t your high ideals and expectations are what causing half of your problems?

What you should act like, what you should have said and reacted, and on an on.

It’s great to wish for being better and have some goals to grow into, but stop expecting that one day you will get “there”. (wherever there is)

Practical tips to get you started:

Talk to other moms, realize that everybody struggles and the picture of “the perfect mother” is elusive.

Find 1 thing every day that you did well.

You Start Being Real

Time to realize you aren’t a perfect mom and guess what? Your kids don’t need one either.

How do you think they would relate to a mom who has a perfect track record in times of their mistakes and failures?

How would your kids know how to deal with failure (perceived or real) if they don’t see it from you?

Practical tips to get you started:

Confess when you feel less than stellar in your parenting. Let your kids know they aren’t the only ones tripping up along this journey of life.

Share with them – to some extent- your struggles and fears as a mom so they see that you are flesh and blood like they are.

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You Draw In

Instead of quitting and stop trying to be the best on you can be, you draw in.

Instead of chasing your teenage kids away from home, you draw in.

Instead of dropping them off every weekend somewhere because they make you feel like a failure, you draw in.

Feeling like a failure as a parent doesn’t stop by ignoring the problem. It stops by showing up and trying day in and day out.

Practical tips to get you started:

Connect with your child(ren). It doesn’t have to be elaborate.

Snuggling while watching a movie…

Watching them while they play without a phone in your hand…

Look into their eyes when they ask or show something.

Read more about spending quality time together here.

You Keep Making Baby Steps

Have you ever ridiculed your 1-year-old for not being able to walk more than 1-2 steps? Or have you ever belittled his progress, cause he didn’t walk right away as well as an adult?

Of course not!

Then why are you doing that to yourself? You are making baby steps in parenting but you’re so hard on yourself!

Stop. Breathe and notice your progress.

I promise you it’s there.

Practical tips to get you started:

Set very small goals and notice that you are doing this. You could walk away and give up but you are not.

Now that you know all about what the hardest part of motherhood is and you have at least some of the tools to handle it, please share this with your friends, so they can make baby steps in their motherhood journey too!

As always, comments and emails on the topic are welcome and appreciated!

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