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“Why am I so bad at this?” 

“I don’t know if I can do this.” 

“Why don’t I feel that overwhelming loving feeling toward her? Is there something wrong with me?”

These are the thoughts that raced through my mind as I was sobbing at 2 a.m., trying to rock my 4-week-old baby girl back to sleep.

I’ve always wanted to be a mom. As a kid, if you had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have answered, “a mom.” In friend groups, I’ve always been the “mom” to everyone. When I thought about motherhood, I felt totally confident and prepared to become a mother. 

But the day she was born, all those things I thought would come naturally never came. And even now, 3 months into it, I’m still struggling with those late-night thoughts.

Let me clarify something before you get any further — I’m not here to give you any advice. I can’t share a list of steps to help you out of these feelings because I’m still in it myself. And I don’t have it figured out (not even close), but I can offer you this: You’re not alone. I see you. 

And I see you questioning yourself and your baby, wondering if you’ll make it through this in one piece, struggling to understand how different motherhood is than how you thought it would be. And I’ve realized, for me at least, that these feelings aren’t just rooted in sadness or sleep deprivation, but grief.

Grieving What Used to Be and Accepting the New

After my husband, my daughter, and I survived those first 3 weeks of postpartum and the fog *somewhat* lifted, I had this unshakeable feeling that the Caroline I had known 3 weeks earlier was gone. The super type-A, confident, reliable person I had been was just upheaved, and a new life — a new person — had just begun. And while I was told to enjoy it, to celebrate having “mother” as my number one descriptor, and to lean into this person I was becoming, I couldn’t do it. I liked the person I used to be and the life I had before motherhood. I didn’t want anything to change. But it had to.

I’ve grieved things as they used to be. I can no longer be on-call for everyone’s every need. I can’t go out with friends at the drop of a hat. No more snuggling on the couch every night with my husband and our dog. Heck, even the clothes I wore no longer fit, and they probably never will. Now, everything revolves around a feeding and sleeping schedule. I have to look for childcare, turn down calls and visits, and set firm boundaries with friends and family. 

Maybe you’ve changed careers, or maybe you’ve given up your job to stay home with your baby. And maybe you’ve felt ostracized by family and friends because of this transition into motherhood. Regardless of what your life as a mom looks like, we all have to mourn the life we had before our little ones came into our lives. For good and not so good, things will never be the same.

Grieving Who I Thought I Would Be

There is this second aspect of grief that has taken me nearly 3 months to understand. It’s this feeling that I’m not the kind of mom I always thought I would be. My whole life, I envisioned this fun, adventurous mom dancing in the kitchen with her kids. But when my daughter was born and struggled to eat and refused to sleep, I thought I would lose my mind. That vision of the energetic mom quickly disappeared, and what felt like a shell of a person took her place.

For over two months, there was rarely a day without a breakdown from me, my husband, and our baby. It has been hard to bond with and love on my daughter and nearly impossible to feel close to my husband. At times I’ve felt like I just can’t do it anymore.

*I want to take a second here to say something that needs to be said. Since the very beginning, I’ve been in conversations with my doctor to monitor Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety symptoms. Since 1 in 7 women experience PPD, I was very aware that this was a possibility for me. It is always a good idea to talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms or have any concerns. For more resources on Postpartum Mental Health, check out: Postpartum Support International. You can also call the PSI Helpline at 1-800-944-4773 (#1 En Español or #2 English) or TEXT: 503-894-9453 (English) or 971-420-0294 (Español).*

I’ve felt stuck in a never-ending cycle of trying to force myself into who I am “supposed to be,” then breaking down when that pressure is too much for me to handle. After the first 10 weeks of this, I gave up. I stopped trying to force that image on myself and started trying to accept the mother I am right now. This doesn’t mean I can’t learn and grow as my baby girl learns and grows — that will always be my goal. 

But I want you to hear this: It’s ok to rest in who you are right now. Take the pressure off yourself to be the mom you feel like you’re supposed to be. Ignore the people who tell you to enjoy every moment, because not every moment is enjoyable. If no one else has, I want to tell you that it’s ok to need a break, to ask for help before you get desperate, and to be honest when people ask, “Don’t you just love being a mom??”

I know it gets better. But until it does, I don’t want to pretend that I’m loving this stage. People give new moms an unrealistic expectation to immediately bond with their baby, to be joyful about the many challenges of motherhood, and to appreciate all the fleeting stages their child will go through. 

But what happens when none of that feels possible? Most new moms are left to wonder if there’s something wrong with them. But I firmly believe that these feelings of grief are ok to process through. I’m content with where I am right now. But I’m also looking forward to growing into the mother I know I can be. And I’m ready to take this journey one baby step at a time.

Other Resources:

What They Don’t Tell You About Postpartum Depression

6 Ways A Husband Can Support His Wife Through Postpartum Depression

How To Feel Confident As A New Mom

How to Feel Confident as a New Mom

It may take some time, but you will find your way.

JUMP TO:

• Is It Even Possible to Be Confident as a First-Time Mom?
• How to Shift Your Mindset And Become What You Believe
• It’s Possible to Balance Trusting Your Intuition & Searching for Information
• How to Stop Comparing Everything
• Why Leaning on Another Supportive Mama Who Gets You is Crucial
• The Bottom Line To Cultivating Confidence
• Other helpful resources

Is It Even Possible to Be Confident as a First-Time Mom?

“I can’t believe it…. We have a baby!” I half laughed-half cried in the moments right after giving birth to my daughter. I was exhausted and barely able to register how my life had just been forever changed in that instant. The next 24 hours were a blur of diapers, latching, crying, swaddling, belly massages (ugh), and constant check-ups. And even though the hospital room was cold, the bed was uncomfortable, and we really just wanted to be at home with our new little love, a slight wave of panic washed over both my husband and me when they announced that we could be discharged. We caught each other’s eyes, wide and questioning, silently asking, “Wait, what do we do now?”

Fast forward 5 years and 2 more daughters, and life is still a whirlwind of diapers, latching, crying, swaddling, belly massages (“Mom, your belly is so squishy!”), and constant check-ups. (Those boo-boo’s ain’t gonna kiss themselves!) Although I suppose having three kids makes me a veteran when it comes to motherhood, I still vividly remember how it felt to be a first-time mom. The uncertainty, the sleep deprivation (still struggling with that one, unfortunately), the unsolicited advice from everyone (thanks random stranger in the grocery store), the fear of failure, the mom guilt, and most of all, the lack of confidence in myself.

I’d like to give you some free unsolicited advice. (No, I’m not going to say “Sleep when the baby sleeps,” although if you can, go for it!) But let me first preface these insights with a pill that might be hard to swallow: You won’t feel confident as a new mom. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but hear me out. You CAN absolutely fake it ’til you make it. It’s gonna take time… but you WILL make it. You WILL find your confidence. Here’s how.

How to Shift Your Mindset and Become What You Believe

Our minds are more powerful than we give them credit for. When you hit a major transition in life, like creating a tiny human, your mind is doing some pretty heavy lifting trying to navigate all the newness. You’re in the trenches, as I like to call it. It’s do-or-die survival mode. And that puts tremendous stress on your brain. It’s easy for negative, intrusive thoughts to slide into your mental DMs. Especially when the learning curve is so high, you are so tired, and the baby is soooo fussy. It’s easy to feel like you have no clue what you’re doing, which, as we know, is pretty much a confidence-killer.

But there’s this really cool little thing called experience-dependent neuroplasticity, which is just a fancy way to say we can change our brain through our experiences. Our brains are designed to be malleable and constantly rewire themselves. Basically, everything you experience WILL alter the physical nature of your brain. 

So, take those pesky negative thoughts: If you constantly focus on your worry, mom guilt, fear, self-criticism… your brain will reshape itself to make you more vulnerable to worry, anxiety, and depression. You’ll find yourself only seeing the negatives of a situation and become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

On the other hand, if you focus your thoughts on giving yourself grace, believing you are a good mom, and knowing it will get easier in time, your brain strengthens those neural connections. You’ll become more resilient, optimistic and have higher self-esteem in the long run. In the wise words of Oprah, “You don’t become what you want; you become what you believe.”

Try this right now: 

  1. Think about something you did well as a mom today. But don’t just notice it; really feel it too. 
  2. Take that thought and dwell on all the goodness in it for at least 20 seconds. (No fleeting thoughts here! And absolutely NO BUTS, unless, of course, your happy thought is that you cleaned a poopy butt really well…) This gives your brain time to fire those neurons and hardwire that belief into your brain. 
  3. Let the confidence boost commence.

It’s Possible to Balance Trusting Your Intuition & Searching for Information

Have you ever googled some seemingly harmless symptoms (albeit worrisome enough to google) and ended up convinced you were dying of cancer? With all the conflicting parenting advice/opinions/facts/hullabaloo out there, it’s no wonder we parents think we are ruining our children for life if we don’t do the RIGHT thing at ALL TIMES. Confidence goes out the window when your best friend says one thing, your mother says another, the internet, best-selling authors, pediatricians, or statistics all say yet another. And then, there’s your gut feeling. It’s so easy to second guess what we feel deeply in our gut because a trusted friend or family member disagrees. So my advice to cultivate confidence as a new mama? Dig into the latest research AND trust your mama instincts at the same time. 

When my oldest daughter was going into her terrible terrific twos, I had no idea how to handle her meltdowns. I didn’t feel comfortable punishing her for having big emotions. Yet, I watched others around me telling their kids to “stop crying” or sending them to timeout when they acted out or wouldn’t calm down quickly enough. I wondered if I was being too permissive by not following suit. I frantically searched the internet for information on whether I was screwing up my child by lack of discipline. Did I need to toughen up? Implement consequences? Or maybe, just maybe… was my gut telling me something that other parents weren’t aware of? 

Enter: Positive Parenting, a parenting style I had never heard of that I immediately embraced wholeheartedly. It presented exactly what I felt on a deeper level, and it had the research and neuroscience of child development to back it up! It taught me things I hadn’t even considered, and I’ve been a better parent for it. 

Try this right now:

  1. Think of an aspect of parenting that you’re second-guessing yourself in.
  2. Take some time to really look into what research says.
  3. Take into account what works for YOUR unique situation. It may not feel right or align with your values, or it could add more stress to your family dynamic. That’s why considering what your intuition says is crucial. 
  4. Find a balance between the two and choose the best solution for YOU. (Not your mom, or friend, or pediatrician, or… you get my point.) 

** Not sure where to start? I highly recommend reading Parenting Right From the Start by Dr. Vanessa LaPointe or Cribsheet by Emily Oster. 

How to Stop Comparing Everything

The more we worry, the less we get to enjoy motherhood. Falling into the comparison trap is hands-down the easiest way to lose confidence in yourself. Her baby is already crawling! Why isn’t mine? She pureés her own organic baby food. She must be a better parent than I am. Her Instagram photos are picture-perfect. My life feels like a hot mess right now. Why can’t I lose the baby weight like she did? You get it. Listen, we’ve all been there. 

So my advice? Figure out the things that trigger feelings of comparison, a “compare-snare,” if you will. (Social media, anyone?) Once you’re aware of what’s happening and how it makes you feel, try to minimize your exposure to it. And if that’s not possible because you’re addicted to the dopamine hit of a new like, when you do get triggered, remember that everybody has insecurities. (Even Beyoncé! Or Kate Middleton! Or Michelle Obama!) No one is perfect. Even the “perfect mom” has bad days. So stop believing the highlight reel of people’s lives. (Psst… Their highlight reel is not real life.) It’s only 1% (…maybe 2%) of their life. It’s not fair to compare the worst of yourself to the best of another. Even if it’s really easy to do.

Try this right now: 

  1. Create a mama-mantra that will help you overcome those moments when you’re being held captive by comparison. Something like, “I am enough,” or “A bad day does not make me a bad mom,” or “I’m still learning, and that’s okay.” Something short and easy to remember on the fly. 
  2. Write it down on a Post-it note and stick it on your bathroom mirror for a daily reminder to repeat it often, in good and bad times. 
  3. In moments of stress, simply repeat your mama-mantra and you’ll feel your heart rate slowing, your breathing becoming steady, and your confidence building up.

Why Leaning on Another Supportive Mama Who Gets You is Crucial

Chances are, the people you already surround yourself with probably look similar to you, have a similar upbringing or lifestyle, and have a similar belief system. That’s because we tend to like being around people who are similar to us. However, there may be people in your life who only diminish your self-confidence by questioning your decisions or flat-out disagreeing with them. When it’s a stranger, it’s easier to brush it off. When it’s your own family member, it’s a wee bit harder. 

So, for my last but certainly not least piece of advice, I highly suggest that you confide in another supportive and like-minded mama who shares your attitude toward motherhood and all the decisions surrounding it. This is what psych-nerds call consensual validation, and it will absolutely boost your confidence in your own attitude and the decisions you’re making! 

Having just any ol’ mama friend/sister or literally your own mother is sometimes not enough. Even though they get motherhood because they are indeed mothers, they’re contributing to your lack of confidence in a big way if they’re opposing rather than supporting your decisions. 

Find the mama who has been there and also totally listens to you, encourages you, supports you, builds you up, and pushes you to be the best version of yourself. That doesn’t mean you’ll always agree on everything, but it does mean that she won’t hurt your confidence in the process if she doesn’t agree. Plus, you’ll likely agree on way more than you disagree on anyway (remember that consensual validation)!

Try this right now:

  1. Think about a mama who just gets you and accepts you for who you are.
  2. Go ahead and send her a quick text thanking her for being so supportive. If she doesn’t already know, tell her how you’ve been struggling with a lack of self-confidence in this season of life.
  3. Ask if she has any tried and true suggestions for your specific situation.
  4. Lean on her.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If she’s a true friend, she’ll be honored to guide you through the trenches.  

The Bottom Line To Cultivating Confidence

It is completely normal to have a lack of confidence in something you’ve never done before. Even if you’ve babysat or worked with kids, motherhood is a whole new ballgame. It’s the difference between sitting in the stands, maybe catching a fly ball every once in a while, and being up to bat in a sport you barely know the rules to. 

So, give yourself permission to:

  • Believe in yourself.
  • Trust your intuition.
  • Ask for help or support.
  • Know that you’re the best mama for the job.

Confidence will come when your decisions yield positive outcomes. You won’t always choose the right thing. Remember, there’s a big learning curve. When you feel like you’re failing, acknowledge and validate your own feelings. Repeat that mama-mantra until you believe it, and confide in your supportive mama friend for a little extra encouragement. You got this.

Other helpful resources:

3 Things I Wish I Had Done Differently After Having a Baby

Help! We Just Had a Baby and Now We Can’t Stop Fighting

5 Reasons Why Marriage Can Be Harder After Having A Baby

Dear Wife, This is What You Should Know About Your Husband After Having a Baby

OH, Baby! Online

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Mom, Here Are 5 Reasons Why You Should Be Celebrated

When it comes to celebrating motherhood, perfection is not the standard.

Parenting is difficult. Being a mother is especially difficult. Mothers often take or are given the responsibility for the success and/or failure of their children. So, mothers may feel disingenuous being celebrated. Mother’s Day, in particular, brings along its own set of expectations for moms. 

For some moms, Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate “perfect moms” who do it all right, all the time. The struggle comes when a mom believes she is the only one who seems to not be perfect. In her mind, she focuses on what she isn’t doing, hasn’t done, or can’t do. 

When it comes to celebrating motherhood, perfection is not the standard. 

Here are some reasons why you, as a mom, should be celebrated.

1. You are doing a valuable job.

Many people think for something to be valuable, it has to be worth something tangible, like money. However, you can’t place a price tag on being a mother. Motherhood is priceless. Throughout the years of motherhood, there’s a plethora of roles and responsibilities. Yet, the main goal is to raise your child to become an independent, responsible ADULT. 

2. Being a mother is hard work.

I am the mother of 3 sons. One day, my middle son asked me, “Is it hard being a mom?” I thought for a minute. My answer to him was, “Yes, it’s hard, but what’s really hard is being 3 different moms at the same time.” 

I explained to him that I have to be Mom for each of them. How I discipline, communicate, and interact is different for each one. Recognizing that I have to mother (parent) them as individuals, not as a group, takes time, energy, effort, and focus. 

3. You are the mother your children need.

As mothers, we worry about making sure that our children have what they need. Or are we concerned about what they want? We don’t want them to feel like they don’t have what all their friends have, from shoes and clothes to gaming systems and vacations. What our children need from us includes our time, love, attention, affection, presence, and guidance. 

4. You have endured.

Whether your children are toddlers, teens, or adults you have made it to this point. You may have survived things like sleepless nights, cranky babies, temperamental teens, tantrums, and many, many other things. You’ve made it past showerless days and puke-scented clothing. There is value in looking back and naming what you and your child(ren) have survived in your parenting journey. If you are honest, there could have been times you didn’t think you would make it. 

You are not alone. 

We’ve all had moments of fear, anxiety, frustrations, and anger. That doesn’t make you a bad mom. You are just a mom who is trying to “keep it in the road.” 

Remember, perfection isn’t the standard. 

If you survive, you have won.

5. You DESERVE it.

Moms can be some of the worst at accepting praise and celebration. We struggle with thinking that we don’t need to be rewarded or celebrated for what moms are supposed to do. Or the other thought process is that we don’t deserve to be celebrated. 

I had a friend lovingly confront me with this question: “Would you rather be tolerated by your family or celebrated by your family?” 

Please, please, please allow your friends and family to appreciate you. 

You definitely DESERVE it.

Other helpful blogs:

How to Celebrate Mother’s Day With a Difficult Mom

These tips may make it a little easier.

Whether your relationship with your mom is a tad problematic or off-the-charts unhealthy, celebrating your mom on Mother’s Day can be difficult.

She might get on your nerves or make you feel like she’s constantly judging you. 

Maybe you think your mom is a horrible parent, or you had a misunderstanding that seems impossible to overcome — and nobody wants to make the first move toward reconciliation. 

Perhaps the pain is so deep that you can’t forgive or move forward. Or maybe you feel your mom is toxic, and cutting her out of your life seems like the safest thing to do emotionally. [Read 4 Things to Know About Emotional Safety.]

It’s a tough road to walk. And it makes Mother’s Day tricky to celebrate.

But whether you choose to visit your mom or stay far away for the holiday, chances are you’ll be thinking of each other in some way.

Whatever your situation, thinking about these six things may make it a bit easier to find some way to celebrate a difficult mom on Mother’s Day. 

(Notice I said “may” and “easier” — not “definitely” OR “easy.” And there’s no excuse for abusive behavior. If that has happened to you, I’m so sorry!)

1. If you’re expecting perfection, you’ll be disappointed.

Here’s the thing: Nobody has a perfect mother. And nobody can be the perfect mother. But we all probably have an idea of what the perfect mother would look like. Unfortunately, our ideals often cause us to have unrealistic expectations that no one can meet. (Unless you’re married and your mother-in-law is perfect. That’s a whole other issue.)

2. Appreciate what you can.

There’s always something to be thankful for (at least according to Pollyanna). So, dig deep and think of what those things could be. Celebrate them, no matter how small. I recently went through some memorabilia my mom collected throughout the years. I found little love notes and cards I wrote my mom as a child. It reminded me that at one time, I thought she hung the moon. 

3. Celebrate your mom for who you want her to be.

She might surprise you and rise to meet the challenge. You may need to use your imagination. Maybe you can’t honestly tell your mom how great she is, but you might be able to write her a letter, or send a card or text to say you’re thinking of her on Mother’s Day. (Even if your thoughts aren’t that great, it’s a start.)

4. Time changes people and perceptions.

As a child, did you ever think your mom didn’t know anything? Did your perspective change when you realized being an adult was a little more… complicated? I can tell you from experience that I see things differently as an adult. I learned some things I didn’t know. My perspective has shifted over the years.

5. You may know your mom as a parent, but do you know her as a person?

Understand the things that shaped her life? Did a loss profoundly impact her? What were her parents like? Parents are people who have stuff they need to deal with, just like we do. Life throws all kinds of things at us, and sometimes we aren’t equipped to handle it. But trying to understand what makes your mom tick can be helpful, especially if she isn’t the parent you wanted or needed.

6. You’re not alone, and you don’t have to do this alone.

Many people have a rocky relationship with their mom, but not everyone feels safe enough to discuss it with their mom or a friend. If you need to talk, but you don’t want everyone knowing your business, pain, or struggles, a good counselor can help you take the space you need to stay positive and move away from bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness can bring emotional and physical benefits that are healing for the person who chooses to forgive, regardless of what another does. If possible, forgive your mom, whether she asks you to or not.

Things may not get better today or ever, but there’s hope that your situation will change. You may learn to navigate through the conflict or at least improve the relationship. One of you might take a step toward a healthy conversation and forgiveness. That may be all it takes. And one day, it might be easier for you to celebrate more things about your mom on Mother’s Day. I hope it is.

Other helpful blogs:

My sons and I were in a large department store together. The boys were 9, 4, and 1 at the time. While we were in the car, I restated the “how to act in public” rules:

Don’t look at anything, ask for anything, or touch anything!

I get them into the store. The little one is sitting in the front of the buggy, the 4-year-old is sitting in the buggy, and the oldest is walking beside me. An older lady approached us and said: “OH, you have such handsome and well-behaved sons.” She continued, “I only had one child and felt like I was losing it most of the time. Now, I see you with three boys. Wow, you are like a superhero MOM!” I felt like a fraud. 

Superhero Mom? What is that? 

If she only knew what I said to my kids in the car before entering the store and my tone of voice. OMG! Does she truly think that about ME? Nope, it is not true: I haven’t washed clothes in a week. My house looks a mess. There is no way that I’m a superhero mom. One part of me knows I don’t have to live up to that, but the other part of me says I do.

To me, superheroes are perfect. If you’ve been a mom longer than one day, perfection seems like an unattainable goal. Some days as a mom, all you can do is get out of bed and place one foot in front of the other. You do not feel super or like a hero. You often feel insignificant, overwhelmed, agitated, frustrated, sad, and forgetful because the expectations you have for yourself are already unrealistic.

How do you reconcile your feelings about your parenting with what others say?

Accept the compliment as a compliment (nothing more, nothing less).

Moms tend to be so hard on themselves. You want your child to be successful, happy, and well-adjusted. Instead of accepting what is meant to be a compliment, you can only think of reasons why this can’t be or isn’t true. Or in your mind, other moms seem to do it better, faster, and easier than you (at least that’s what it looks like on IG).  It’s okay even when you don’t feel worthy to just say ‘THANK YOU.” 

Understand the compliment.

Often, the people closest to you see things in you that you don’t see in yourself. Your family and friends see how you: work hard, love your family and friends well, and volunteer in the community. They see your strength, resilience, caring, and compassion in the midst of difficulties. But they also see your struggle yet want to encourage you through it. They want you to know that you are seen and valued for all you do. Their intention is not to add pressure, but to acknowledge all of your efforts. 

Note for the compliment-giver: It’s also important to recognize what moms “hear”  when they are called a superhero. When those words are spoken, many women, because they don’t feel like they are “momming” well, take the words on as added pressure that they need to live up to the title. Maybe instead of calling her a superhero mom, it would help if we actually called out the characteristics we believe make her a superhero—patience with the children, I love the way you engage with your children, your home has a warmth that is comforting, I appreciate the way you keep things in perspective—your children are small for such a short amount of time; the dirty clothes and dishes will always be there.

You do you.

It’s so easy to look to your left and right to see what and how other moms “mom” and judge yourself as lacking. It’s essential you recognize that being yourself is enough. Life isn’t about comparing yourself to others. They’re not you. They don’t have your family. You know what’s best for your family, whether it’s related to technology use or diet. It may be difficult to block out the questions or opinions of others, but it’s imperative you do. 

Be realistic in your expectations. 

It’s important to realize that “you can have it all, just not at the same time.” Take some time to think about and prioritize what’s important to you about your family. Once you have clarity on what matters the most to you and your family, let the other things go, including the guilt of not being everything to everyone. Recognizing what you can and cannot control goes a long way toward reducing stress and unrealistic expectations.

Stop minimizing your attributes.

As moms, we’re really good givers of compliments and time to others, but not good takers when others want to give us compliments and time. Not everyone has the same abilities. Just because something is easy for you, it doesn’t make it easy for everyone. When someone gives you a compliment about something you do, stop internally negating it. Just say, “Thank you.” You may feel like you’re being dishonest because if they only knew… If they only knew the number of shortcomings, flaws, mishaps I have on a regular basis… Guess what? So does everyone else! None of us are perfect, no matter how their social media pages look. 

It’s not easy being a parent. You feel bombarded with information and messages that seem to make parenting even harder. You feel the pressure, all the time. Give yourself a break; all parents have moments of joy and of struggle. Enjoy all the moments you have with your family. Graciously accept recognition, even when you feel like you don’t deserve it or didn’t do anything special. You are special and exactly who your family needs.

Mother’s Day is just a few days away and if you’re anything like me, the thought of how to celebrate your mom when you can’t be together during a pandemic has been a little bit of a challenge. This year is going to look different. Travel plans have changed. Restaurants aren’t functioning at full capacity and her favorite stores are still in the middle of trying to open. Having the whole family come into town to celebrate is unlikely, so we must be creative.

Maybe you’re like me, and you’re miles away from your mom this Mother’s Day. If so, let’s find a way to make the special woman who always goes out of her way for you to feel celebrated.

Instead of guessing what my mom would like or settling for something an ad told me would be perfect for her, I got personal

I went to the source and had a conversation with my sweet momma, Suzette.

Earlier this week I asked her if I could interview her for a blog. She was excited to help from the get-go. What better way to show your mom you love her than by showing her you need her, value her words of wisdom and opinions? So, we hopped on FaceTime.

Me: What is your favorite way to be celebrated?

Suzette: There’s nothing I love more than family gatherings. Spending time together, having real conversations and talking just to get to know each other.

Me: With this pandemic keeping us from all getting together, what do you think we could do instead?

Suzette: Well, technology has made it easy to be all under one roof despite the circumstances. All I have to do is set my laptop on the kitchen table and you all will be sitting here with me. I think it’d be nice to share a meal at the same time together in different cities and change up what we talk about. Have fun conversations like, “Where do you want to travel to when this is over?” and “Is there anything you’ve discovered recently that keeps you up way later than you anticipated?”

(I think it’d be nice to go around the Zoom screen and say one thing we are grateful for or admire about our mom.)

Me: What do we do to make you feel loved when my sisters and I all live in different cities?

Suzette: Honestly, responding to my silly texts and watching the videos I send you all. Having longer conversationswhich quarantine has blessed me with you all having more time to talk because you all aren’t running around as much! Is there a way I can keep that? When you all were growing up [starts to laugh] I could just trap you all in the car and say we are going on an adventure and we’d have all the time to talk I wanted, and you all loved it!

Me: [Laughing and nodding] I mean this is true.

Suzette: I also love it when you all ask about my interests and want to get to know me as who I am now. Because it’s really different not having you three girls around and being a single mom. There’s no one here to encourage me with just a smile or by spending time together. I’ve always been my own woman, but nothing can beat the pride of being your mom.

Me: I know we can get busy and have a bad tendency to put off responding to a text or calling back or only talking when we have to. I’d love to encourage you in what you’re doing, you’ve always been very supportive of me!

Suzette: I would love that! You girls’ opinions mean more to me than anyone’s. I think I would feel celebrated and loved just by hearing you all interested in the things I love, like Scotland! It doesn’t take anything but effort. If I know you’ve spent time picking out and then writing me a letter or crafted something or set aside time to Facetime and see each other’s faces and see into each other’s daily lives, I feel loved. It’s pretty simple really.

Just from taking the time to interview my mom, she felt like a more valuable part of my life. She reminded me that kids are a mom’s most prized relationship and that there’s nothing she’s more proud of.

The bottom line is to talk to your mom before Mother’s Day. Ask her some of the questions I asked my mom. Enjoy learning about her (and getting the answer of what she wants for Mother’s Day) all in one call! It’s a win-win.

If you want to physically thank your mom for all she’s done, here are some gift ideas my mom gave me!

  1. Send a card. Take the time to write why you appreciate your mom.
  2. Make her something! She will love that you thought about her and took the time to follow through. Yes, go back to the artwork on the refrigerator days! I must confess, my drawings would not look much different now, so I would opt for making her a pair of earrings because that is something I’m good at.
  3. Send a bouquet of flowers. Ask what her favorites are. Add a note and tell her she’s been a big part of helping you bloom (everyone loves a good pun).
  4. Choose a book to read together. Not only would you be sending her a book, but you’d be inviting her into more time together. How’s that? By sharing thoughts on the book during and/or after you both finish it!
  5. Order a takeout delivery from her favorite restaurant. You all can plan to eat dinner together virtually if you usually take her out!

This Mother’s Day, let’s be intentional about how we celebrate our mothers despite the circumstances that may keep us apart. She always found a way to do the same for you—whether there were a million things on the schedule, money was tight, you were sick or plans were canceled. 

It is your turn to do the same.

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It’s May and you know what that means… Mother’s Day! For the last few years, it has been our tradition to travel to my in-laws for the weekend. My mother-in-law’s birthday is also in May so we celebrate the two together. A normal Mother’s Day for us consists of breakfast as a family, church, and then out to a restaurant for lunch. My wife’s brother and sister join as well. The entire weekend consists of exquisite homemade food, family games and lots of laughs.

Celebrating this year will look very different than ever before, though.

Because of COVID-19 and quarantine, we won’t be gathering as a larger family and doing what we normally do. Gifts will look a little different as well. With two small children, we have had the luxury of their respective school and childcare center teachers helping them make cards for Mom. Don’t get me wrong, we have done cards at home as well over the past couple of years, but they are never quite as awesome as what our amazing teachers have been able to produce. 

So as we plan to celebrate a little differently this year, what will that look like?

Here are some ideas to help you make sure that your wife feels all the love this Mother’s Day:

  • Make a video asking your kids what Mom means to them. Here are some questions to kick you off. What does Mom say the most? What is Mom’s favorite thing to do? Of all the things you love about Mom, what do you love the most?
  • Have the kids create a song about Mom and perform it for her on Mother’s Day. Want to live on the wild side? Make a song up about Quarantine Mom.
  • Help the kids make her breakfast or lunch. It doesn’t have to be extravagant… just from the heart. Let the kids lead out and choose what they want to make.
  • Let her sleep in on Mother’s Day. This is a big win. We all know moms need rest.
  • In-Home Spa Day anyone? My 4-year-old likes to paint nails and give foot rubs. You can all pamper Mom as a family.
  • Homemade cards are always a win. You may have to be a little sneakier this year though if you are all at home.
  • Does Mom love to travel? Take virtual tours of her favorite places or somewhere she has always wanted to visit. Let Mom decide and take a trip as a family.
  • Is Mom crafty? What is her favorite craft? Whether she likes to paint, knit, or anything else, get some supplies together and create as a family. 
  • Does Mom love movies? Watch her favorite movie as a family. Create a movie theater experience for her complete with popcorn and her favorite snacks.

Most importantly, let’s show Mom that she is loved and appreciated.

From what I’ve learned over the years (from both my mom and my wife), celebrating Mom is a lot less about the cost and a lot more about the thought and heart put into the gift. That’s what matters most. 

Don’t let the quarantine stop you. Make this the best Mother’s Day ever!

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I see you, mama, sitting in a messy house, filled with dishes from last night’s dinner and laundry piled high. You’re trapped in a house during a quarantine and it’s taking everything to not go stir crazy. I see the exhaustion and the exasperation that comes with toddlers running around. Demanding snacks, begging for attention, needing to have what they want, when they want it. I see you trying, trying to juggle their needs and your work’s needs, and maybe, sometimes, even your own needs. I know that feeling of being stretched so thin that you’re barely keeping it together. The seams beginning to unravel, slowly then all of a sudden… you’re hanging on by one tiny thread. 

I see the frustration of an interrupted Zoom meeting, the agitation from a plea for yet another snack, the expectation to be completely focused on that work project and completely focused on caring for your kids. It’s not supposed to be like this. It’s unrealistic to think that anyone could handle the balancing act that all of a sudden we are called to perform. 

So why do you feel like a failure? You know it’s impossible. You know you’re only human. But what about them? What about society? And employers? And family and friends? Yeah… what about them? Everyone needs to adjust their expectations. Including yourself. You are doing the best you can. You are facing the unknown and taking on more than anyone should be expected to. Give yourself grace. 

In fact, give yourself permission to let the dishes sit in the sink a little longer.

Make friends with the dust bunnies who have joined your space. Let your kids jump in the piles of clean laundry that still need to be folded. Go outside and take a second to breathe. Feel the fresh air fill your lungs and be grateful for all the things that are going right in your world. And for anything that’s got you stressed or worried or on edge, add “but” onto the end. 

“We’re stuck at home… BUT… we’re SAFE.”

“The house is a mess… BUT… I have a roof over my head.”

“The kids are driving me nuts… BUT… I get to be their mom.”

“Working from home with kids is so hard… BUT… I’m grateful for the flexibility and that I STILL have a job.” 

So, take it one day at a time, mama. This is just a season that you WILL get through. Be mindful. Tell yourself a different story. One of resilience and patience and overcoming obstacles against all odds. You are NOT a failure. You’re capable. You are strong. You are amazing, in PJs and all.

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