A Mother’s Voice

As moms, we often feel pressure from external sources of judgment.  I’m not immune to that, but I would argue we suffer the harshest judgment from within ourselves. No one has ever said to me that I am not a good mom.  Most people probably don’t even think about me in the context of being good or bad.  I, on the other hand, have definitely had my share of moments when I am convinced I am a bad mom.  That comes from my perceived failure to meet my own hopes and expectations.  I say this even though I’ve always believed that I had a healthy level of confidence.  Lately, and more often than not, the voice in my head is not swayed.

This voice has a vicious vocabulary and a narrative that diminishes my accomplishments, is ruthlessly critical of my appearance, and crushes my attempts to be happy in the here and now. Its standards are far beyond a bar I could ever hope to clear.  This voice belongs to the old me – the Anissa that existed before the kids did, the girl who luxuriated in having control of all the things and comfortably napped at the foot of infinite lifestyle options spread out before her.  She has not accepted that motherhood has changed me, both positively and negatively.  What’s left is a warped perspective.

I know, deep down in my soul, what kind of person I am, which makes the words that I hear the worst kind of lies. I fight every day to ignore and move past them and frankly, just writing this is an action in revolt.  Now, I am equipped with a secret weapon to take my power back.

I ask myself a simple question to drown the noise:

“What do you tell the kids?”

It would break my heart if my one of my babies came to me and said a fraction of the dialogue I say to myself. My reaction to their confessions would be, of course, to hug them and do my best to reframe their negative thoughts.  I finally realized that it makes perfect sense to turn this strategy inward.  It’s amazing what deep breaths will do to alleviate the drain of negative energy.

Today, my voice sounds more like a rational human being:

Be kind to yourself.

Think happy thoughts.

A bad day doesn’t define you.

Every problem has an answer.

Failure is a learning opportunity.

No one is perfect.

I know that you are scared. You are safe.

Whatever you do, do your best.

Have faith.

It’s ok to cry.

You are loved.

You are loved.

You are loved.

I dole out these affirmations to my kids all day long.  And it’s high time I started taking my own advice and treating myself like the people I love.  I certainly prefer it over the alternative.

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