Guilty mama; please make yourself a priority.
Hi everyone, I am so excited to be back on the blog! Just a little Wood fam update: We are all back in school and Marek is back in daycare, so I am getting more of my free time to write again. Matt and I started a social media fast at the beginning of January so we have been off Facebook and Instagram since then. It has been such a nice break for us to gather and refocus on our values and relationships for the new year. You really don’t realize how much time social media can suck from you until you step back and take a break from it! If you haven’t done one before and are in need of a reset, I highly suggest a good month or so of a social media cleanse!
If I am being honest, I have experienced a bit of writer’s block these past few months. With the long holiday break, I was thrown off my normal routine and I definitely took full advantage of it! We slept in every day, watched tons of movies, took Marek to Seaworld a few times, and ate way too much yummy food! I weighed myself this morning and I put on 2 lbs… Oops! Giving myself a little grace though, because we had such an amazing and care-free few weeks together. Damage control is in full effect!
So, this blog post has been on my heart for a while now, and I feel it’s the perfect time to share it with you all since the new year is still fresh and we’ve still got the motivation to make positive changes for 2020!
I found a quote that really spoke to me today because it is one of the reasons we must make ourselves a priority.
If we do not properly care for ourselves and fill our well (making our needs a priority), we aren’t capable to love and serve others to the fullest. For me, I know that I want to love my husband and son to the best of my ability because they deserve that, and so much more!
I have gone through a few seasons in motherhood where I feel so guilty for having Marek in daycare because before I became a mom, I didn’t want others to look over him and teach him things I was supposed to teach him, and I didn’t want to be away from him and potentially lose the bond we had. Looking back, these were selfish ideas because I had no idea all the positive benefits that would come to myself, but also Marek. This anecdote isn’t about how great of a choice daycare was for my family, but it’s important because it was the first step I made, to make myself a priority.
During pregnancy, I made a promise to myself that no matter how long it took, I wouldn’t give up pursuing my education until I finished. This was meaningful to me because I wanted to prove to myself I could do it and have a rewarding career. I also wanted to set an example for my son. They say nothing in this world worth having is easy. Ain’t that the truth?! After Marek was born, I took the first 10 months to be at home with him. Although I loved being with him during this phase of infancy, I started to feel burned out and had a strong desire to go back to school. I thought to myself that someday I might have regrets of letting him go into the world so soon, but I knew if I was going to follow God’s path for my life, I needed to make this leap of faith that we were doing the right thing.
Know your value
Knowing your value is the most important aspect when making yourself a priority. It is the foundation of discovering self-love and acceptance. Not only should you have this solid foundation to live a meaningful life, but it’s also very beneficial for your children to see as well! It’s true that children learn by example and when they hear you speak kindly to yourself, they process it as acceptable behavior.
I know it’s hard to believe that you actually deserve it all, but I am telling you, you do! Maybe someone in your life has once told you or made you feel as if you are unworthy, or you will never be anything of value. You must deal with those false ideas right now because that person doesn’t know the real you. I want you to know you are beautiful, talented, funny, kind, smart and capable. You deserve joy, peace, and nothing less. Please, don’t lower your standards to satisfy someone else, keep your standards high, and have the people in your circle meet you there. One valuable lesson that I have learned the hard way, is that you reflect who you surround yourself with and whatever your mind is being fed, you will believe.
Finding your priorities; not your families
No disclaimers, I am just gonna say it. Right now, this isn’t about your family. It’s about you!
There are a time and place where we women come together with our significant others and make a plan or discuss goals for our family which include everyone in your household. This isn’t what I am referring to when I say find your priorities. I mean find what is important to you, and you only! So many of us (and yes I am guilty of this!) find our identities in our spouse and/or children and in the long term, it can be damaging to your self-esteem and can cause resentment in your relationships.
Find a quiet place, and make time to self reflect and really figure out what is important to you. I love journaling and writing things down on paper, and when I am in a season of redefining my priorities, I like to write down a few things that I want to accomplish in a year and focus on. These things have nothing to do with my sweet husband or son, only me!
This year, I decided my priorities would be to grow in my relationship with Christ, continue my diet (I lost and kept off 15 lbs in 2019, plan to do it again this year- small attainable goals ya’ll!), exercise at least 3 times a week and continue my education.
What is irrational guilt and how to move past it
We have all felt guilty at some point in our lives, and it can actually be good for us! It can be a way to keep our values in line and keep ourselves accountable. A lot of us mamas experience irrational guilt, and that is when we are feeling guilty for actions we may have not even committed, outcomes that have not happened yet, or pressure from societal standards that not may align with our own. I struggled a lot with irrational guilt when Marek was newborn and I was unable to breastfeed. A few factors came into play but the two main ones were that I was unable to produce enough for his demands, and the pressure I felt to continue breastfeeding was so overwhelming, it began to negatively affect my mental health.
I remember having to supplement formula while trying to keep up my supply by doing ’round-the-clock feeding and pumping. I was just exhausted. I knew I was done, but because science and society say “Breast is best” I couldn’t bring myself to not give my son the best. Some women are able to do it with ease or more committed, but I just wasn’t one of them. I knew there was a major issue with irrational guilt (and a wild ride of emotions) when I found myself crying at Marek’s 4-week check-up. I kept trying to justify to his pediatrician all the reasons why I needed to stop breastfeeding as if it was a crime! I didn’t do anything wrong, nor was I harming my child. It just didn’t work out this time, and that is perfectly ok. Once I let it go, I was able to discover a new, positive journey in motherhood.
As a mama, sometimes the things we need to do for ourselves won’t always be for the benefit of our children, and that’s ok! In order to be our best version, we must recognize this and move past the irrational guilt. Understanding these thoughts will take a conscious effort, and even I work through these reminders daily. When you find yourself getting worked up and your thoughts begin to spiral over a certain situation or you begin to feel guilty, ask yourself these few important questions:
- Is this something I have control over?
- Am I harming someone?
- Does this guilt align with my values and standards, or someone else’s?
- Is my child/family healthy and safe?
- Have I done everything in my power to create a positive result for myself and my child/family?
I hope these questions can help you begin to work through any irrational guilt you may be going through about making yourself a priority. I would be lying if I said it would be an effortless journey, but finding this balance in motherhood is not only necessary, it is crucial.
Experiencing guilt through motherhood is so common, and especially wanting to put your children above all! It can be very difficult to find a healthy balance, but you definitely aren’t alone. I am hopeful you can find the right tools for you to move forward and start making your mind and body a priority. We must be happy and healthy to be fully present for the wonderful people in our lives, and it begins with nurturing ourselves first.
Please remember, I am here to advocate for you, and support you through this journey we call Mamahood.
Lots of Love,