Why can’t you just forgive yourself as a mom?
I ask this because I have noticed that as moms, we’re awfully hard on ourselves (and sometimes each other).
I realized this when sitting at my daughter’s birthday party one day. I just had two of my close friends apologize and ask for forgiveness, in the same day, for inconsequential things. They felt guilty over something that I wasn’t even concerned about.
Have you ever done that?
Of course you have, along with every other mom out there, including me.
So why is this? Why do we often feel the need to apologize for every mistake we make? Why can’t we just accept that we’re human and will screw up at some point?
You know what I mean. The permission form you forgot to sign. Or getting to a soccer game late, because you had the wrong time. Or missing a doctor’s appointment, because you accidentally double booked yourself.
We often have impossibly high expectations of ourselves. We need to make the best meals or make every practice or have the most organized home. If we fall short of these expectations, we call ourselves “idiot” or “scatterbrained” or “the worst mother ever.” I’m just as guilty of this as anyone. However, this negative self-talk is not only unproductive, it can be damaging, as seen in this article.
Why do moms have such a hard time forgiving themselves? It seems to go back to the mother’s guilt that we all succumb to at some point in our lives.
As little girls, we’re taught to be polite, thoughtful, not to complain. We’re supposed to look pretty and be nice to everyone. We’re also supposed to live up to completely unreal images of stick thin models.
If we fail in one of these categories, then we are judged and feel guilty about it. This continues as we become mothers and wives. Shame on you if you don’t live up to the standards seen on Instagram or Pinterest.
Ironically, what we need to realize is that every mother struggles with the idea of perfection, but no one is truly perfect. That is what makes us all part of this crazy human race. Because of that, every mom has to learn to let go of what she can’t control or can’t get done and finally forgive herself.
I know it’s not easy. I know you’ll struggle with this, as I do at times. I also know that learning to forgive yourself is essential to living a full, productive life. It’s necessary to be free of that heavy burden of pain and guilt.
It IS possible to forgive yourself
I love the wisdom in this article and video by Marie Forleo, especially the quote about forgiveness being a sign of courage and strength. The article focuses on forgiveness of others, but it can translate to forgiveness of ourselves as well.
We as busy moms need to lighten up on ourselves. We are all here to do the best job we can do in raising our children. However, if you mentally put yourself down all of the time, you can’t be a fully present parent. Therefore, I recommend trying these three simple steps to forgiveness.
- Acknowledge: First, you need to recognize your mistake, whatever it is. Name it- “I forgot to buy milk.” -without judgment. Write it down if you feel the need to do so.
- Reframe: Turn the negative thought into a positive one: ex- instead of saying, “I’m such an idiot for forgetting the milk”, say “We can get by a day or two longer without the milk, it’s not a big deal.”
- Breathe: Take a deep breath, expanding the belly fully, hold for a couple of counts, then exhale and tell yourself “I forgive you.” Repeat as needed.
Note: I realize that you might be holding on to some bigger issues than simply forgetting the milk. Lies, debt, infidelity, addictions and more are all realities in this world. They also might be highly triggering for you. Consequently, this three step technique might not be enough to deal with them. In that case, I would highly recommend seeking professional help.
Please know that whatever mistakes you have made and will make, you are still a valuable member of this world. You have so many gifts to share with those around you. Therefore, you and your family deserve to have the best version of you, which can only happen if you learn to forgive yourself.
“Love yourself, accept yourself, forgive yourself and be good to yourself, because without you the rest of us are without a source of many wonderful things.”
-Leo F. Buscaglia