Moms say, “Stop Beating Yourself Up!”

My son didn’t sleep through the night until he turned three.

I used to beat myself up about that fact. I was guilty, exhausted and convinced that I was a failure. All of the other mothers had kids sleeping from 7pm to 7am and taking a long nap in the afternoon.

I read a stack of books about teaching babies and children to go to bed and fall asleep on their own. I followed each of the methods; one month I was a baby whisperer, the next I was baby wise. Nothing worked, until he turned three and then he slept. (I give some credit to the Good Night Stoplight, a sleeping aid that my best friend and I invented.)

Now I look back at those first three years when I was so distraught and guilty and I feel bad for that new mother. My son is now four and sleeping and there is no indication that my inability to teach him how to fall asleep has in any way affected his development. Why was I so hard on myself? What did beating myself up accomplish?

Martha Sears has written a book in which she states that mothers are often blamed by psychologists for what goes wrong with children. Infant mortality rates are so low that mothers take it for granted that their children will survive. Now mothers worry about raising psychologically healthy children. Mothering is frightening because the cost of making a mistake is so high — nothing less than damaging your child’s psyche.

I read an article recently where a mother was condemning other mothers for using time-out mats, because a stair worked well enough for a time-out. Why condemn mothers for using behavioral aids or parenting tools that make life a little easier? Last year an article in the New York Times by a Professor Crain, lambasted mothers for using strollers, he claimed that overuse leads to inactivity which ultimately leads to childhood obesity. Google disposable diapers and landfills and you will want to start potty training your babies at birth.

I have used the sleep experience as a learning experience. I have two children now and mothering them has taught me that my instincts are good and to trust that little voice in my head that alerts me about potential problems. I know I will make mistakes but most likely none that I can’t correct. We will pass through many developmental phases as the boys grow up and some will be more challenging than others. I am going to do the best that I can and be a little easier on myself, love my kids up one side and down the other and know that everything is going to be okay.

Moms want to know if you are ever too hard on yourselves. Get your friends to contribute too! We can all learn from each other. Please post here!

Sincerely, Elena and Cari, Moms on Edge


6 Responses to “Moms say, “Stop Beating Yourself Up!””

  1. Fridge Magnet Says:

    I beat myself up about everything, is my one year old eating enough veggies, am I socializing her enough, should I have read to her while I was pregnant…(I know it sounds crazy but I read some article in the Dr.s office). Thanks for the words of encouragment I will try to go easier on myself!

  2. Ginger Cookies Says:

    I found that people were hard on me when I would tell them about my parenting struggles so I stopped being so honest. I use my really close friend as my sounding board now, that way I always feel supported.

  3. Tom's Dad Says:

    This is a great post for Dads, too. I feel under tremendous pressure to balance my work with being a great dad.

    Sometimes I come home at night and I am beat. The last thing I want to do is start disciplining my kids. Then I feel mean since I haven’t seen them all day.

    And what happens if my son says he “hates” baseball when I know he is just tired and cranky? Do I push him to play or just let him stay home?

  4. Ginger Cookies Says:

    My husband feels the same way. He hates to discipline when he comes home-so I have to do the discipline and I feel like I have been reprimanding all day. Catch 22 I guess.

  5. Babies and Pups Says:

    Thank you, thank you! I have a group of new mother friends and we sit around and beat ourselves up about everything. We talk about how competent and self confident we were before babies and now we are lucky if we can get a shower in before evening. Motherhood has been fun and more challenging than I thought it would be!

  6. ceramichelle Says:

    My second son, now 9 months old, has taught me how to be a more laid back parent. It was a long road getting him into this world & we know he will be our last baby, so I make a point to try & enjoy every minute of his baby-ness, as well as all of the fun that my 4 year old brings to the mix. It’s definitely not always a walk in the park, but on those days I remind myself that they won’t always be this small, need me this much – soon they’ll be asking for the car keys & we’ll have a whole new set of worries to occupy our time!

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