I worry that I’m messing everything up.
I’m not patient enough, not organized enough, not kind enough, and not disciplined enough.
My kids and husband know all of the ways that I fail, and I worry that someday they will blame me for how their lives turned out, and they will be right.
I worry about what my kids will remember. Will they remember the good times, or the times that I yelled? Will they remember the amazing school days, or the days we failed at homeschooling? Will they turn out to be hardworking, kind, successful adults, or grumpy, selfish, entitled brats?
I think all those thoughts about what I feed my kids, how we homeschool, and many more.
I see all of my shortcomings and worry that I’ll fail.
When I worry about failing, I feel ashamed, and I want to hide. I don’t want to be around myself or my kids. I retreat from my own life.
Shame feels terrible, so I try to escape it by getting on my phone, eating cookies, or watching a show. Sometimes I escape it by yelling at my kids. If I am angry with them for all of the things that they are doing “wrong” I don’t have to think about how I am failing.
Blaming is easier than responsibility.
Here’s the thing: my brain is normal. It is doing what most people’s brains are doing: trying to figure out if I am enough.
How do we know if a parent is enough?
Some parents are amazing. They do all the “right” things, and their kids still grow up to resent them, be selfish, lazy, or nonfunctioning.
Some parents are terrible, and most people would agree that they failed their kids, and yet their kids grow up to be kind, compassionate, hard working adults who are determined to leave the world a better place. They overcome their parent’s failure with determination to not repeat the negative cycle.
In these instances you could say the good parents failed and the bad parents were successful. It depends on how you look at it.
Doing all of the “right” things does not guarantee that your children will turn out the way you hoped, and doing all of the “wrong” things does not doom your children to a terrible life.
I can do all of the right things and my kids still get to choose their own path. I can do all of the wrong things and my kids could still turn out to be determined, successful, and committed to a better life.
So what makes a great parent?
We cannot answer that question with how the kids turn out.
So why am I so afraid of failing? Why would failing be a problem?
If I failed as a parent (meaning my kids turned out “wrong” - even though we already know this is illogical), I would feel terrible. I would feel shame, regret, and sorrow.
Someday in the future, I might feel a negative emotion, so right now I worry about it.
Worry feels terrible, so I try to escape it. I do all of those things - get on my phone, eat, watch tv, etc. in order to not feel terrible.
Worry makes me leave the current moment in order to feel false pleasure, ironically creating more guilt and worry about failing.
Worrying about failing in the future leads to failing in this moment.
My inability to feel negative emotions leads to me checking out of my own life.
But what if worry is no big deal?
What if I don’t need to escape?
What if I’m capable of feeling shame?
Being willing to feel negative emotions frees me to stay in the moment, not try to escape.
Yes I feel terrible sometimes, and nothing has gone wrong. I am right on track.
The price I have to pay to be a successful mother is to be willing to feel negative emotions.
Feel shame, and show up for my kids anyways.
Feel uncertain, and still be present with my kids.
Feel worried about the future, and still homeschool.
Being willing to feel negative emotions is the price I pay to become the mother I want to be.
I will not become the mom I am capable of being by hiding on my phone. I won’t become her by checking out and eating all the things. I won’t become her by fault finding, blaming, and yelling at my kids.
I become who I want to be by being determined to succeed, even if I feel terrible along the way.
I’m willing to feel shame, doubt, uncertainty, nervousness, and worry.
Embracing the shame doesn’t make it stronger, it makes it weak.
It’s just shame. It is a feeling in my body, nothing more. It feels heavy, restricting, and immense.
That’s all. It’s no big deal.
My brain goes to great lengths in order to escape shame, but I’m done hiding from it.
And so I say to shame:
“Come on in! I’ve got a seat for you on the couch.
I’m committed to this mom life, and you can come along for the ride.
No more tricks and mind games. I’m on to you.
When I think I can’t handle you, I check out of my own life.
But you are not too much.
You are the price I am willing to pay in order to experience my own amazing life.
Welcome to my life, shame.”
You got this mama!
P.S. Life is messy. Read about the mess here.