A mantra for moms: I’m doing the best I can

I have a new mantra.  I’m not sure that I had an old one, but I have one right now.

“I’m doing the best I can.”

I try to remind myself of this when I’m beating myself up.  Like most moms, I’m so good at beating myself up over things.   I’m good at guilt tripping myself.  I’m good at thinking I can be everything to everyone at all times.  I’m good at setting unrealistic expectations.  All of these things can come on full force during 3 a.m. feedings in a darkened baby’s room.

And so a couple of months ago, I decided to recite my new mantra every time I start falling into the self-criticizing trap.  I have a lot about which to criticize myself, but I also realized I have a lot about which to applaud myself.  I have valid reasons for many of my shortcomings.  For example, my baby boy is 6 months old and his nursery is still not decorated.  He doesn’t even have a chest of drawers, yet.  His room is functional, but it’s not finished.  One corner still has boxes of stuff in it.  I’m not thrilled about that, but having to spend the last three months of my pregnancy on modified bedrest then the first three months of my baby’s life sleeping on the couch with him and a variety of other challenges that include taking care of him and his 3-1/2-year-old sister and I really am doing the best I can. He doesn’t care if we’ve hung the Spider-man and Ironman cutouts that will look adorable with his crib sheets and curtains.  He just cares that I snuggle him when he’s crying, feed him when he’s hungry and change him when he has a dirty diaper.

Kids are like that.  I spend most of my life right now feeling like I’m barely keeping on top of things let alone ahead of things.  I struggle daily to make sure that we have clean clothes, food to eat, bills paid and a relatively clean living space.  I struggle to make sure my kiddos are clean, fed, happy, playing, healthy, learning and sleeping.  I struggle to make sure my husband knows how much I love and appreciate him.  I struggle to communicate with him in the midst of the chaos of family life with small children.  I struggle to keep going when sometimes I want to just sit down and cry or lie down and sleep because the little people in my life seem to think sleep for mommy is optional.

However, I also realize that I’m not alone.  And I’m not the first mom to go through these sorts of things.  We’re all doing the best we can.  It should become a mantra for moms everywhere as a reminder that what you’re doing is OK.  Life isn’t perfect.  You’re not perfect, but that’s OK.  You’re doing you’re best and that counts for something.

You can’t remember the last time you washed your hair?  It’s OK.  You’re doing the best you can.

Your bathroom hasn’t had a good scrubbing in a month?  It’s OK.  You’re doing the best you can.

Your children are still in their pajamas at 4 p.m. because you don’t want to add to the laundry pile?  It’s OK.  You’re doing the best you can.

You’re serving frozen pizza or fast food for dinner tonight because you’re too tired to cook or can’t put down a fussy baby for even a minute?  It’s OK.  You’re doing the best you can.

You haven’t seen the top of your chest of drawers in months because of the stuff piled on top of it?  It’s OK.  You’re doing the best you can.

Your child watched four shows on Disney Junior today just so you could get things done or nap?  It’s OK.  You’re doing the best you can.

This mantra isn’t an excuse to not try.  It’s not an excuse to be a lazy parent and not care.  It’s just a balm for mommy guilt.  It’s worked for me, because I’m not perfect.  I’ve not found a wonderful balance or way to get it all done.  I fret over what’s undone in my home or the activities I’m not doing with my children or the conversations I forget to have with my husband or the errands I forget to run or the weekly to-do list that never gets completed.  I could go on and on.  But, at the end of the day, I really am doing the best I can and I need to give myself props for that.  One day I’ll have time to organize the clutter counter in the kitchen.  One day I’ll have time to clear off the top of my chest of drawers.  One week I’ll mark everything off my to-do list.  One week we’ll have homemade meals every day.  There will be time (or so I hope!).

As long as every day, every minute I am doing my best, I am OK.  I must keep trying.  I must continue to plug away day after day to try to get it “right.”  But, mostly, I must love my family.

You skipped your shower to play games with your preschooler? You’re doing the best you can!

You put off paying bills that aren’t due until next week one more day to snuggle with your baby?  You’re doing the best you can!

You rescheduled running errands to snap up a chance for a date with your husband?  You’re doing the best you can!

You spent time reading with your children instead of scrubbing the bathroom?  You’re doing the best you can!

You rolled around on the floor with the kiddos instead of hanging decorations in the baby’s room?  You’re doing the best you can!

You fed your children?  You’re doing the best you can!

You laid in bed and chatted with your husband instead of tackling more items on your to-do list?  You’re doing the best you can!

You make time to hug, kiss and tell your family you love them?  You’re definitely doing the best you can!  Give yourself a break, mama!

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