Shame: (noun) a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
Ouch. Just the definition of the word shame carries a lot of weight. Sadly, there is such a phrase as “mommy shame”. Every mom feels it at one point or another. We beat ourselves up over our millionth mistake as a mom. We carry it over from child to child wondering what we did wrong, and wondering how we can do things differently tomorrow or next time.
I must admit, I feel this almost on a daily basis, but today I have felt it at it’s heaviest weight. I’ve been beating myself up over this all week, and as the reality of my decision has begun to become more finite, and clear, I have been washed over with “mommy shame”. But, I am writing this to share that I have also found my reason to stop feeling this way and to stop myself from being overcome by it all (something I haven’t done before).
My mommy shame comes in the disguise of the lie that I am a failure. Somehow, and I don’t know when or how, I was able to unveil that that is not true. Boy am I grateful for this revelation. Being a failure as a mommy is a lie, no matter who you are it’s a lie. Don’t believe it.
And here’s why it’s a lie for me.
This past week I have come to the conclusion that my 6 year old daughter will be getting enrolled into public school. A change from what we have been doing (homeschooling). Now, this change in schooling isn’t because homeschooling doesn’t work for us, in fact it has been working extremely well. She can read, write, and hold a conversation down like no other 6 year old I have ever met. She still has a creative imagination, is down to earth with the reality of health, finances and nature. I mean, this kid is super awesome. But our decision to transition her to public school (although it may be just for this school year) stems from my second born child, my almost 2 year old son Michael.
He is the opposite of my daughter. He is indeed a happy boy but he is in no way an “easy” child. He pushes my limits and challenges my beliefs of discipline and parenting in every single way possible. He’s stubborn and strong willed. And he’s loud. Really really LOUD. Raising my son has led me to feel this huge rush of mommy shame. I have been feeling as if I’ve been doing something wrong. I must have done things differently that I made him this way. Truthfully I prefer to not eat out at restaurants or go shopping with him because of how hard it is to manage him. When you see that mom with that kid in the grocery store, chances are that’s me. We are that family right now. I’ve been carrying this shame for so long now. But I’m done.
I didn’t do anything wrong. My son is simply different than my daughter and I need to accept this. My need to change plans with her schooling is simply a part of the process and the complete opposite of failure and I also need to accept this.
I associated my need to place her in school with failure because I felt like the other moms that homeschool might think I’m weak and that I’m a failure for not sticking to my guns (I have many reasons for wanting to homeschool). But my NEED to place my daughter in public school has nothing to do with my ability to be her teacher. I know I can and I have been, and truthfully I will always be. I just simply had to look at the needs of my daughter and the needs of my son and weigh out my ability to do both, parenting and teaching, efficiently. The reality for me at this moment is that I can’t do both at the level that I desire to be at for my children.
Yes, I can juggle both here and there, and we already learn on the go everywhere we go, but with needing to redirect my son and reinforce the boundaries he needs (plus potty training) I’m going to need to focus on that aspect of my life 100%. He needs the consistency.
It’s also about Issy and her need for consistency in my parenting her and my teaching her, something I feel I have cut down to 50% because of how distracted I’ve been with my son. With all of this said, I have been feeling overwhelmed and ashamed for a very long time. But I’m putting that to an end right now.
Maybe I’m writing this out to convince myself of this decision, or maybe because I need to hear it out loud to nail in the truth once and for all: I AM NOT A FAILURE.
The truth is this:
My kids are well loved. They are loved at 100% by me 100% of the time. They are healthy. They are alive. They are happy. They are smart. They are active. My kids are my everything and I want to give them everything I was never able to have. I want to teach them everything that there is to learn about. I want to build them up to be great leaders and to be so strong in their faith. I want to raise my kids to trust themselves. To be honest and willing to live life to the fullest. I want them to be great people who can make a difference in the world. How they get there is just a part of the process, and that can change so many times. But the one thing that won’t change is the person standing behind them supporting them through that journey. I will always pray for them and encourage them. I will encourage them to love everyone despite their beliefs, their color, or their physical capacity to do things. I will always support them in wanting to do what’s right, even when it’s unpopular. I will always stand in the crowd cheering them on.
I am not a failure because I am still doing what’s in their best interest. It may not be the way I always imagined it to be, but it is the best current option. Circumstances change over and over again. This isn’t the end of the world.
Am I scared?
My very first “first day of school” for my child is approaching. I was never prepared for this. I haven’t done shopping of any kind. I probably won’t because I still have an endless supply of school stuff at home, but I’m sure I’m still missing a few things. I have to buck up and meal plan all of her school lunches and I have to pay attention to the clock now.
My life will be changing in so many ways and I am petrified but ultimately, I know that I will be okay.
This is just a glimpse of my journey with mommy shame. Mommy shame comes in many shapes and sizes and ugly disguises. So please, sweet momma who is dealing with mommy shame right now, ignore the lie and tuck away that guilt. As long as you are doing what is in the best interest of your child, there is no need to feel shame. Don’t let the “ideal Pinterest” idea of what a mom in your position should be doing, should be looking like or should be wearing, weigh you down. That ghost is not you. That lie is not who you are meant to be.
You were chosen to parent your child and you were chosen for a reason. I fully believe that.
Just find the strength to ignore that lie and keep moving forward. Your kid(s) will thank you for this one day.
I know I’m thankful for my mom.
So enjoy this life sweet momma. Enjoy your children for they are yours and you are theirs. How sweet that nothing can change that. 💜
-Much love from a mom on the brink of insanity