Conversations With Other Moms
If I had to pick the one thing that has helped me the most as a parent it would be the validating, authentic and vulnerable conversations I have had with other moms. Most of these conversations were casual and without agenda but they matter so much to me because they showed me what self compassion looks like.
When I first became a mom I had a colleague named Laurie. Laurie was an invaluable support for me during my early parenting years in many ways but the one conversation I still think about nearly 8 years later is when she shared that sometimes she yells at her kids to “fucking stop it”. Laurie is an amazing mom who parents with intention and gentleness so for her to be vulnerable enough to share that she loses it sometimes too resonated with me deeply and provided a helpful reframe when I struggle with feelings of inadequacies and guilt with my parenting
Having this one conversation on deck for moments like these has helped challenge that unkind voice in my head that is trying to convince me that I am a bad mom. It has helped remind me that we can hold more than one truth at the same time. It can be true that I am a loving parent who is doing a good job and also true that I yell at my kids sometimes that “I’ve had it with your fucking fighting”. I don’t love that I yell at my kids. I am not proud of it and I do not believe that it is the best way to handle a hard parenting moment. I also accept that I am an imperfect human who is doing a really hard thing and I’m trying my best.
We may not even realize how much it means to other moms when we are vulnerable and authentic with them. When we risk showing our messy, imperfect lives while being compassionate towards ourselves we are modeling self-acceptance and challenging that mean and unhelpful inner dialogue that so many moms have inside that just doesn't serve us. I don’t beat myself up nearly as much when I mess up and I try to look at the times when I do lose my cool as a signal that it’s time for some selfcare so I can recharge and come back to parenting with more patience. And you know what? Since I started being kinder towards myself I noticed that I yell less often and have more patience. To a self-judging mom, being kinder towards yourself, ESPECIALLY when you’ve just messed up, might sound counterintuitive but this one shift has been transformative for my parenting, and my overall mental health.
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Jennifer Simmons is a Licensed Professional Counselor and owner of Open Minds Counseling LLC located in Durham, CT. She provinces compassionate mental health services and is a passionate feminist committed to helping women heal and deconstruct the patriarchy.