I won’t lie. It’s been a rough week. A perfect storm of trying to meet a deadline for two book proposals while kids were having all kinds of issues, husband was MIA golfing in tournaments, hormones were at their evil low, and so was quantity of sleep. A “squall” of epic proportions started growing in my head and heart until I finally crashed on myself, feeling like such a loser mom.
Yes, I feel that way too. And now that my head is clearer, I can tell you this: it all stems from my thoughts. This week, I could hear them, loud and clear, bossing me around. It wasn’t pretty. You know when your 5 year-old asks, “Are you still nuts, Mom?” that it hasn’t been pretty! So, what drives these “loser mom” feelings? And what do I do about it? Here’s a little glimpse.
Why I Feel Like a Loser Mom
1) My kindergartner keeps getting notes sent home: “Please remember to help Sydney do her homework!” And, I keep forgetting to call my kids out sick from school (which has been at least once a week in winter). They always have to call me. “Oh! Yep. They’re home sick today,” I say. “Sorry I forgot. Again.”
- Loser Mom Thoughts (LMT’s): “The schools think I am a loser! They probably have a wall that says, ‘Loser Parents—Keep an Eye Out!’ with my face on it! I mean, I can’t even remember to sign my kids out or get my Kindergartener to do her work! I’m never on top of anything and I never will be!”
- What I did: Once I finally came down from my “catastrophizing,” I reminded myself: “First, it’s just calling for attendance and kindergarten homework. It’s not the end of the world. Second, if the teachers think you’re a mess, oh well. You don’t know what they’re really thinking, and they don’t know your situation. You’ve got a lot on your plate, and you’re doing the best you can.” Then, I made sure the homework got done and tried to remember to call. I do try.
2) Monday, my 9 year-old daughter told me I “never listen” to her, and that no one else in our family does either.
- “Loser Mom” Thoughts (LMT’s): “What kind of mom doesn’t listen to her kids? And you’re supposed to be a psychologist?”
- What I Did: First, I wallowed in it, bringing myself down. Eventually, though, I told my daughter I was sorry she felt that way, then kindly explained: “We have 6 kids. Usually, two or three of you are talking to me at the same time. I can’t always hear everything you each say. Maybe next time, you can put your hand on my arm until I’m ready to hear you.” Hmmm. I guess I do listen to my kids.
3) With so much I always need to “do,” my philosophy has become: “If it doesn’t absolutely have to get done now, it can wait.” I shouldn’t have been surprised, therefore, when my boys’ basketball coach told them they couldn’t play in the game on Tuesday if I didn’t get their physicals turned in by 3.
- LMT’s: “You’re always waiting ‘til the last minute! Now your kids are the only ones who haven’t turned in their forms. How embarrassing—for them and for you!”
- What I did: Now that it had to get done, I finally dug up the physicals—one hour before the game (though I almost had to call the doctor and get new copies because they weren’t filed away, “of course”)! “At least you found them in time,” I reminded myself. I may be last minute, but I do get it done.
4) Seeing that “addicted” look on my 9 and 5 year-old daughters’ faces after forgetting they’d been playing Animal Jam on the computer for way too long because I was “tired” and veg’ing out in my own way (chocolate and crappy TV).
- LMT’s: “You forgot about your kids? How could you forget? You know it’s not good to let them sit in front of a computer for hours! You never have enough energy to be the kind of mother you should be, and you probably never will!”
- What I did: I brushed their teeth, read stories, said prayers, sang a lullaby, and hugged them to bed. “Hmmm. Doesn’t sound so ‘losery’ to me.”
5) Yelling at my kids. Tuesday afternoon, when several were whining, I started. “You’re all ungrateful! I can’t believe I am raising ungrateful kids!” (I was then called out by my oldest for “lumping” all the kids together, once again, instead of remembering they’re individuals). Wednesday morning, when they weren’t up on time and were complaining about their lunch options, it got much worse: “What do any of you do for ME?! I’m so tired of it all! I’m just going to say ‘no’ to everything you ask me for the next week! I mean it! What? You don’t believe me? Just try me! You can’t beat me!” Not my finest moment.
- LMT’s: “Seriously? You’re not only yelling at your kids, you’re threatening and competing with them? You don’t need me to say it…”
- What I did: …because I was in my room crying and feeling like the most horrible person in the world. Feeling ashamed. And, acting out of shame is never good. It led to…
6) Yelling at my husband in front of the kids because he “doesn’t get it” and “just stands by while I’m falling off a cliff,” and because he has “the nerve to ask to go on a golf weekend when I’m drowning!” (It’s really more of a rant than just a yell). Then, hearing my kids tell each other they’re afraid we’re going to get divorced because we were fighting.
- LMT’s: “Rock bottom. Nice move. Now your whole family is feeling terrible. Because of you.”
- What I did: I let my husband help by taking the kids to school. I went back to bed and slept for an hour. I got up and finished my proposals before the kids got home. And, later that night, I told my kids: “I’m sorry. Yes, I was frustrated because of some of the things you’ve done, but I need you to know you’re not ungrateful kids, even if you say ungrateful things sometimes. And I need you to know I was more upset by how I was acting than by what you each did. And I really love each of you. You’re very important to me. And Dad and I are not getting divorced. Sometimes we just get frustrated with each other, kind of like you feel with each other sometimes too. I should not yell at you or Dad. I’m very sorry for that, and I’m working on doing better.” My oldest then said, “I think it was just a stressful day for us all, Mom. We’ll all be better tomorrow.” They really are good kids. Then I apologized to my husband for how I acted too; we “kissed and made up.”
7) Finally, my constant nemesis, this week and always: Telling myself way too many times, “I can’t handle six kids. Why was I given six kids if I can’t handle them?”
- LMT’s: “You really are a loser if you can’t handle your kids. Other people handle even more and with much more grace.”
- What I did: First, I told myself to shut up. Then, I showed myself compassion. “You have six kids. That’s a lot. You may not have planned on having six, but that’s what you’ve got. And you love them. It’s hard, but you really do love them. And you know it doesn’t matter what other mothers do (or appear to do). You’re doing the best you can. It’s just been a stressful week. That doesn’t mean anything about who you are.”
How I Know I’m Really Not
When I look back on what I actually did this week, I might not be such a loser after all. I’m feeling much better as I write this. Yes, the hormones and deadlines have passed, and yes, I’ve gotten some sleep. But, mostly, because I can hear my “loser mom” thoughts, I’ve been able to tackle them. I realize, now that I’m not in it, that most of the “problems” that make me feel like a loser are not really “problems” at all. They’re small and insignificant but I blow them way out of proportion. We have a rule in our house that we don’t say, “Shut up,” but I allow myself to say it to myself when I hear those LMT’s try to get me down. Because they’re wrong.
I’m not a loser mom. I’m a great mom. I know that. And it’s not even because of what I did in response to my LMT’s this week. I’m a great mom simply because I show up each day. I mess up and create problems and feel ashamed. But I keep showing up. I admit my mistakes, apologize, and try to do better. I keep loving my kids, my husband, and myself. And I show my family who I really am—a person, like anyone else—simply trying to be the best I can be.
If you haven’t already, check out Thought Management Parts 1 and 2. They explain more about how our thoughts control our bodies, emotions, and behaviors, and give tools for how to get out of our heads so we can recognize, and “call out” our “LMT’s” before they cause any more trouble!
[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. She really can act “nuts” sometimes, but hey, she’s working on it, and loves helping others work on it too.[/author_info] [/author]
Do you ever have LMT’s? What drives them for you? What do you do to stop them and remember you’re really NOT? Leave your thoughts, ideas, and questions below!