Ever have one of those days where you feel like you’re doing all the right things, but nothing is actually going right? AKA classic motherhood?
You remember to change the diaper before you leave the house, only to find out that it leaked while you were in the car. #awesome
You schedule the conference calls around your little one’s FINALLY-CONSISTENT (!!) nap times, but daylight savings – or the dreaded sleep regression – strikes. #brilliant
You plan the perfect family vacation, and then your baby (and everyone else, of course) gets sick a few days before your flight. #fact
Or, my personal favorite: you make the hair appointment, you make it on time, you get the blowout, and then it rains. #everytime
More often than not though, this shows up as our babies not doing what we want them to do, and us thinking we’re doing something wrong.
They don’t act how we expect them to act. They don’t eat the nutritious meal you made, or they refuse to wear the adorable capsule wardrobe you spent hours putting together (you know who you are, girl). Maybe they aren’t sleeping in the luxurious spa-like environment you’ve created in their bedrooms, decked out with blackout shades and Zen’ed-out white noise. You’ve read the books and consulted the experts and listened to the podcasts and they still aren’t cooperating! They clearly didn’t get the kiddo memo.
So, you grab the newest parenting guide. You call the pediatrician, post an Instagram story, or even – dear goddess – get desperate and go to the online forums (Please resist! Resist!). The story is something like “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong! I’ve done ABC, and he still isn’t doing XYZ. Did you guys have the same experience? What worked?”
I’ve got nothing against reaching out to your people – in fact, it’s the opposite. I love community and believe, in the big picture, that our challenges largely exist so that we share them, create deeper human bonds, and practice compassion for each other.
But, I’ve got a bone to pick with the mindset of “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”
You very well may be making some common mama mistakes (we all do), but here’s a self-caring alternative: maybe you’re doing everything right. Maybe your baby is just a human being, capable of human feelings, that don’t line up with yours. Maybe it’s not you, maybe it’s them.
You can’t control everyone and everything.
It reminds me of one of my all-time insanely useful self-care tools. When I got this one, I’m telling you, it was GOLDEN.
I was in my therapist’s office, running on about relationship drama. Someone had criticized me, and it pierced. It bled. And she said, simply:
“You know, Kelly, that isn’t about you.”
Say what?! Really?? After that light bulb went off, this sentence became an experiment I’d run a million times a day.
Selfish boyfriend: “I just wish you wanted to do more fun things.” Hmm Kelly, maybe that isn’t about you.
Salty family member: “You could’ve done more for your dad when he needed help. You’re really selfish.” Hmm Kelly, maybe this isn’t about you.
Toddler, mid-meltdown: “You are NOT the best mama ever! You’re a stinky trash can!” Hmm Kelly, maybe this isn’t about you. (Sidebar: that’s Sage’s current favorite insult, so I get lots of practice with that one).
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do fun things, or take care of family. Only you know if you need to step up your game there. But people often say or do things, especially when they’re hurting, that have zero to do with us. Imagine! You might, in fact, be doing the right things already.
If you’re not sure, just ask if you’re:
If so, you’re good!
So, give it a go:
- Notice the next time something doesn’t go your way, and when the “What the F?! I’m doing everything right” feeling creeps in.
- Try on this self-caring mantra “This isn’t about you.” You can be doing everything right, but we can’t control it all. Especially other humans.
- Practice letting go over and over, every time the feeling pops back up.
Everyone has their own experiences. Share yours with others, but don’t try to control theirs. That’s self-care by example.