SHOUTOUT TO THE MOMS!
These precious treats you see before you are for my one-year-old’s first Valentine’s Day party, ever. It’s my first go-around with this whole daycare thing, which was clear when I forgot his food on the first day. Seriously, who forgets their child’s FOOD?! I’ll tell you who: this lady right here. Anyway, fast forward to last week when I found a note in his backpack requesting that each child bring Valentine’s Day treats for the class. Y’all, the panic ensued. What was I supposed to bring for a class of one-year-olds? What are they allowed to eat? Do they even all have teeth? If so, is there a tooth count required to eat certain foods? A week and 27 Pinterest searches later, I was still at ground zero. I am not kidding when I say that the treats were seriously stressing me out!
In addition to being a wife and a mom, I’m also a counselor in pursuit of my PhD. As a counselor, I’m filled with excitement when I draw the human brain and can communicate to clients how its inner workings are responsible for emotional, physical, and relational dysregulation. (Heck, I bought special erasable pens to demonstrate how creating new neural pathways decreases the likelihood that we’ll revert back to old, destructive behavioral habits! How cool?!) As a PhD student, I find satisfaction in teaching graduate students about the value of the therapeutic relationship and its function in being the catalyst for change. As a researcher, I’m passionate about understanding, and educating the public on, trauma responses experienced by bereaved mothers.
My brain is all about these cool things. But, Valentine’s Day treats?!? That’s where my brain slams on the breaks. Real talk: as a mom, I have more questions than I do answers. Y’all, this whole “raising a human being” thing is serious business! When it comes to momhood, there’s no empirical evidence to support my decision to let my son throw everything out of my bathroom drawers just so I can put on my makeup. There are no references to which I can refer you that would reveal the educational value of Paw Patrol. I’m going simply by instinct, and my guess is that I’m not alone in wondering if that instinct is right.
As moms, we are so quick to dish out grace to everyone else and to be super harsh on ourselves. We often categorize ourselves as being either selfless or selfish. Why do we do that? The short answer is that societal expectations have conditioned us to believe that if we aren’t giving every ounce of our beings to everyone else, then we aren’t being “good” moms. The reality, however, is that if we give, give, give and never replenish ourselves, the burnout is soon to follow. Burnout looks like screaming at someone—anyone!—because you stepped on yet another Lego barefooted. It looks like resenting your family because they aren’t displaying love in the same way that you do. Burnout feels like losing control over your reactions and saying things you don’t mean.
So really, if we never show ourselves a little love, we can’t love our families the way in which we would like. By taking an hour out of the week to attend a therapy session, you aren’t taking away from your family; you’re investing in yourself so that you can, in turn, invest in your family. By taking a yoga class, you aren’t slipping away to have a little fun; you’re releasing weeks of built up tension so that you don’t release that tension on your family. As moms, we see our jobs as lifting up everyone else. That’s great, and super rewarding! But, if we don’t have a firm foundation within ourselves, we don’t have anything from which to lift our families.
Going back to the Valentine’s Day treat dilemma… you might be wondering what lit a fire under me causing me to become Ms. Crafty and send these precious treats. Honestly, nothing because I didn’t make the treats; my mom did. *Insert your judgmental gasps here if you’d like.* After a doozy of a week and a late research class, I conceded to the idea that Zebra Cakes would be the perfect treat. (I am, after all, a 90s kid.) It wasn’t until I spoke to my mom about needing to stop by Walmart to purchase said Zebra Cakes that I found out she had already made these sweet treats for my son and his class. (She is sent from Heaven, truly.) If other moms saw those V-Day treats, they might think I have it all together; that I wasn’t totally rattled by bringing treats to a group of one-year-olds. But the truth is, I’m the Zebra Cake mom, and that’s ok. It’s also a great example of how we compare ourselves to our perceptions of others, which may not always be reality.
To all the moms that have a perfectly packed lunch, and for those of you, like myself, who realize they’re out of baby food at midnight and have to bust up in Walmart, I have one message for you: GIVE YOURSELF GRACE! This mom thing is tough! Whether you feel like you have it all together or you’re completely falling apart, therapy is a great way to recalibrate and focus on yourself. In a world full of comparison, the gals at Present Hope Counseling and Blue Hill Counseling are here to provide a therapeutic, nonjudgmental space for you to focus on the rockstar mom you are!
So, what’s the deal with a counselor admitting imperfections?? AUTHENTICITY! The days of your counselor being a mysterious robot have, thankfully, come to an end. We’re imperfect human beings who work really hard at educating ourselves on how to help others live their most authentic and fulfilling lives. So whether you’re the Pinterest mom, the Zebra Cake mom, or somewhere in between... we have a place for you! In a month dedicated to showing love to others, don’t put yourself at the bottom of the list. Counseling can help you cultivate that love. We’re here to help you find that grace. If you’re hesitant about therapy, want to check out the vibe of our office, or even want to find release without having to speak, Kelli at Blue Hill Counseling also offers therapeutic yoga classes that focus on relaxing your body to, in turn, relax your mind.
Happy Valentine’s Day, moms. Don’t forget to love yourself today and every day!
-Heather @ Present Hope Counseling