When I first became a mom, whenever something new or just plain gross happened, I ran to my mothering books for tips on what to do. And when we started sleep training, yet another book was added to the mix.
I remember one particular pre-dawn morning after another unsuccessful night of sleep training with my then 7-month old daughter. According to my book, my baby should not have been awake. She should have been sleeping peacefully in her crib until everyone else in the house awakes.
However, it was very clear that my baby was wide awake and ready to seize the day. I felt defeated, exhausted, and more confused as ever.
And so I sat there in the rocking chair with my daughter and cried until it was time to officially start our day.
After following the sleep training instructions to a capital T, it didn’t make sense that I could not get my baby to stay asleep in her own crib until sunrise.
I thought I was doing something wrong. I felt like a bad mom. And I felt not enough.
What upset me even more was that I couldn’t consult my mothering books on how to deal with those raw feelings.
The Motherhood Experience
What those books also did not give me was the courage to trust my instincts when it came to being a mom. And I certainly didn’t find any information on embracing the idea that I am an imperfect mom and will make a gazillion mistakes as a mom.
I understand now that I relied on those books to provide me with a no-money back guarantee. I longed for certainty that would promise a sense of security and comfort about motherhood.
The reality is that the motherhood journey is filled to the brim of uncertainty, not knowing, and loss of control.
Let Go of the Shoulds
How many of you begin your day with thoughts of how it should look like? Maybe you have plans to get a couple loads of laundry done. By noon, you haven’t even changed out of your pj’s because your newborn has let you know (clearly and loudly) that you will actually be holding her all day long.
How many of you have expectations about how your kiddos should act in public? Or should listen and follow directions? Or should use the potty?
Even deeper, when our kiddos don’t fit into these Should Boxes that we build, we believe there’s something wrong with them or us. Or we may believe that we are doing something inherently wrong.
Thinking back to that early morning when I sat there in tears holding my baby girl, I didn’t realize that I was creating a huge Should Box for her and myself to fit into. I was falling head first into the trap of believing that my worth as a mom was attached to whether I fit nicely into my Should Boxes.
I didn’t know then that being the mom I wanted to be (who is imperfect in every way) was more about being engaged with my child’s needs and being loving towards myself.
Being ALL the mom you want to be has absolutely nothing to do whether your child should be sleeping, breastfeeding, crawling, walking, using the potty, etc.
So, you can continue to create your Should Boxes until you’re blue in the face, or you can release the shoulds, embrace your imperfections, and walk the uncertain and not-knowing path of motherhood along with me?
In what areas of motherhood and your life do you find yourself creating Should Boxes?
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