I did a double take and a happy dance.
And I didn’t blog about it, because here on the blog we were showcasing Ann’s Posts about pregnancy loss, and I chose to wait a week with the “oh em gee look at how many amazing members we have at the Mama’s Comfort Camp” blog post.
(Yes, I’m still giddy with every mother that joins our group. I don’t expect this to ever go away.)
We have 530 mamas from around the world, every walk of life, with kids of every age. And you know what we all have in common?
The bit about feeling guilty.
What is it about motherhood that amps up this painful emotion?
Every single one of us has that reaction to things that we do or don’t do. It’s like we are damend if we do and if we don’t…
And you know what the Mama’s Comfort Camp is best for?
Disarming this guilt.
We do that by first having a safe enough space to talk about the pesky thing, then trusting ourselves and our mama friends enough to share something about it, and then, minutes later, another camper will show up with words that will A. Show us that we are not alone. and B. reframe the situation to show you that in fact, you are not wrong/bad/week/laszy/stooopid at all, and remind you that you are in fact doing the best you can, and deserve love and support rather than judgment.
That’s what we are good at. The difference in how we feel before we shared our guilt and after we get the support is like night and day. Our camp is brimming with threads like that. And over and over again, we get reminded that the most painful part about motherhood, is not so much how hard it is (which it is, very,) it’s the self judgment. And when we take that away, the hard part becomes so much easier to bear.
Self-kindness is key, and the shortest path to self-kindness in motherhood comes through sisterhood.
So today, in order to celebrate our 500ness, I’m going to share one of the many threads that demonstrate this much needed bit of Mama’s Comfort Camp magic.
I copied and pasted the text from our Facebook refueling station, including the bits where I ask permission to use it here, so you can see how we work that part too.
Now get this: this post was written after midnight in Indiana, the US. 12 minutes later, Claire, in Australia, where it’s daytime of the next day, responded. Natalie, who was up in LA, responded next. So before Katherine went back to bed, she got the support she needed to be able to sleep better that night, because you know guilt makes for a poor bed companion…
Here we go:
What is it about your sleeping child that induces guilt? The instant my oldest falls asleep, I feel guilty for not having played with her or at least given her some one-on-one attention, and for losing my patience. It makes me wish I were a better person. It happens every night, no matter how I try to rationalize it and forgive myself. The only thing that makes me feel better is resolving to make tomorrow better, but then bedtime arrives and the cycle repeats. And then I think about how hard it is to change myself and I lose all hope for ever being able to change any unwanted behavior in my children (or expect my husband to change some things). Ugh! This is so hard! Hugs? It’s been a very long and stressful day.
January 23 at 12:30am
Oh Katherine, big hugs to you. Honey, you don’t need to be a better person. You need more support and less to do. If we (metaphor alert) think of a car that has been driven really hard for years, not got enough oil or coolant or brakes replaced, been left outside and been dented and rusted and there is a leak in the fuel tank, and then we want it to drive beautifully and think UGH, this car SUCKS!! Is it actually the car’s fault? It has been loyal and done its best with the resources it had to hand. And now it runs a bit wonky and creaky and not very far before it breaks down. This is your body and your energy, isn’t it. Your body is trying. Your energy is doing the best it can. We are living in a culture and an economy that rides on the back of the unpaid and unrecognised labour of women and the unmet needs of our children. The nuclear family set-up. The economic imperitives we buy into with our choices about jobs, homes, purchase patterns etc etc etc etc. You do not need to be a better person. You might like to give yourself a big fat permission slip to be human and have limits. And to think about maybe how much you and your family have on your plate and how you might possibly reorganise, reprioritise, and replenish yourselves. Because it sounds to me like promising you’ll go further on the same size fuel-tank tomorrow ain’t working. And that’s just painful. And I don’t want that for you or your family. So…. permission slip? You’ve got it. xo
January 23 at 12:42am
Hugs! I worry about the same stuff. But then I remember that I did my best and that is all I can do. And they always look the cutest when they sleep, don’t they? When they are quiet and not making a mess and scaring the bejeezus out of the cat or trying to send themselves to the emergency room.
Your kids get so much out of seeing you all grown up and getting things done, dealing time and time again with all the not-fun things so they can have fun themselves. They get to learn that life is not an endless playtime, but that there is value in doing the work of everyday life. You are giving them the invaluable gift of a glimpse into real life.
I loved the book “No Regrets Parenting” for this. It helped me learn to have wonderful moments with my daughter, whether I have all day or just a half hour, and even if we are just doing laundry. And to not feel bad about it.
January 23 at 12:49am
OMG Claire, your analogy is awesome! I can’t believe how much sense that makes and how much better I feel! I am a (very) used car in need of repair and how can I expect such a car to run beautifully? You’re so right! You are wise beyond your years, sweet Claire! xoxo
January 23 at 2:07am
Natalie, you make an excellent point about kids learning about the value of doing the work of everyday life; I really believe my oldest is as demanding as she is because I spent the first 3 years of her life doing nothing but entertain her — all the cooking, cleaning, shopping was done when hubby came home or after bedtime. I love that what you said about having wonderful moments even if you’re just doing laundry together. I am going to try to appreciate those type of moments too and not feel guilty that I’m doing laundry with my daughter instead of playing. I’m going to look up that book now! Thank you so much!
January 23 at 2:14am
Yael Daphna Saar:
omg, how much I love you all right now?
Katherine, Claire, Natalie, may I please have your permission to publish this on the blog? Code names or your names, I think this conversation would be so healing for many people to read.
And as always, “no thanks, I prefer not to” is a perfectly valid answer.
January 23 at 9:02am
Yes, definitely, Yael! No code name is fine with me. xo
January 23 at 9:47am
Absolutely! And Natalie is fine for this one.
January 23 at 11:05am
Same here, so glad it makes sense , let alone is helpful. Claire is cool )))
January 23 at 1:54pm
See what I mean? Yay for sisterhood fortified with metaphors.
Much gratitude to Katherine, Claire, and Natalie for your words, and your permission to use them here on the blog.
And yes, if you are a mother who is not yet a Mama’s Comfort Camp member, you are very welcome to join us.
Please help us bring the Mama's Comfort Camp to more mothers by sharing this post via: