You’re NOT a Bad Mom: Knowing Your Limits

There are a lot of roles we can take on in life that teach us our limits, our abilities, and our shortcomings.

For example, working in day treatment for 3 years has taught me I don’t belong in that restrictive of a setting – that high stress. So, a hospital or crisis center is out of the question.

Being a wife has taught me that I really, really do need some time alone each week, and I’m not always the best communicator, no matter how much I’d like to think I am.

No role has taught me my limits as much as being a mom.

So, here I sit writing this after my second breakdown of the day. As hubby was leaving for his first shift at Uber, I looked at our beautiful baby and I felt myself unraveling. She hasn’t napped much this week, which means I have barely gotten anything done. This morning’s breakdown came after I tried 45 minutes to get her down for her morning nap and she.would.not.sleep.

For the second time today, I begged my husband for a break. Instead of working his job, he decided to take her to visit his parents. Perfect. They haven’t seen her in a while, and momma needs some time – honestly, just to do whatever.

As soon as that door shut, I set to work doing things that had been woefully neglected this week: that load of laundry in the washing machine is being washed for the 3rd time this week, the bunny’s area needed to be cleaned, trash needed to be gathered, and the kitchen needed desperate order restored.

I wanted to get these things accomplished so that when I sat down to write, if I fell asleep for an uninterrupted nap, I wouldn’t wake up feeling like I had wasted my time.

Now, my living room is in some semblance of order, my kitchen is back to it’s happy state, that load of laundry may finally make it to the dryer, almost all of the missing pacis have been located, and I finally feel free to write, or watch tv without worrying about the volume, or read, or sleep, or just sit and stare at the wall.

Two breakdowns today, where I could feel myself not only reach my limit but over it. Dangerously over that line. I definitely felt horrible this morning, during my first breakdown.

Luckily, while out for my walk, I talked to my mom, and she said something to me that brought peace immediately & made me know it was ok to ask for the second break today:

“You’re not a bad mom because you needed a break,” my mom reassured me as I explained how my morning went.

Boy, did I need to hear those words. I had just finished crying to my husband on the phone from the parking lot of the apartments that I’m a horrible mom.

If you’re a mom who has everything together & loves being with her children 24/7, please don’t misunderstand me. I actually miss her right now, even though I desperately need a break. I freaking love her with every fiber of my being. More than I realized I could love another person.

But, I’m learning my limits. And, if you’re a mom who has everything together 24/7, I’m really not writing for you anyway. I’m writing for the other mommas like me – the 99% of mommas out there who need to hear the words my momma told me this morning & the words I’m adding:

You are not a bad mom.
You just need to know your limits.

My husband is very understanding and patient and supportive, and he actually thanked me this morning for knowing my limits. Imagine how much worse we would both feel if I didn’t know or acknowledge my limits? What would have happened to me? Or the baby? I doubt anything really, but, I did not want to take a chance. So, I did the best thing I knew how. I did what they taught me in the parenting classes.

I handed that sweet, innocent baby off to the man with the patience of Job and I took a walk.

When we know our limits, our abilities, and our shortcomings, we are in a much better position to love ourselves, and love & serve those around us. Have you ever heard “you can’t pour from an empty cup”? If you don’t know your limits, your cup will likely always be empty.

I cannot care for little Lady Bug or serve my hubby if I am at the end of my rope. I cannot fill my role at church, support my friends, or even care for myself, if I have nothing left to give.

Being a wife and mom is teaching me quickly where those lines are and how to ask for help when needed.

Which brings me to my last point on the topic of knowing your limits: have a community that supports you even before you’ve reached those limits.

I read an article today that self-care is not enough to battle mom burn-out, and it’s true. We also need community care. You need someone to be there to help out when you’ve hit that limit, you need someone to help pull you back over the line, away from the edge. You need a community that can pick up where you drop the ball. If you don’t have that, I implore you to find it.

Self-care cannot exist in a vacuum, we need a new community story. We need more husbands who acknowledge that we recognize our limit and help us back away from it. We need more moms and friends to tell us those words: you are not a bad mom.

So, if you have that community, stay connected with them. If you don’t have that community, find one. And, until you do, please take these words seriously: you are not a bad mom. It’s just the toughest and most amazing job in the world.

You got this momma.

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