Saturday, April 20, 2024
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Am i a perfect mother?

(By Dr Megha Sarin, Clinical Psychologist)


Am i a good mother? Am i doing a good job raising my child? Am i being a good wife at the same time? Women often have a tendency to question themselves to the extent that they start doubting their own sense of self. I have come across so many parent interactions in my clinic, i have seen mom guilt very closely infact being a psychologist and a mom of a 5 year old I have experienced it personally as well, hence i though of writing this article which can help a lot of mothers in knowing that there is nothing called as a perfect mother instead women need to focus on being their happiest self instead of trying to seek validation from the external world. Even though this happens at all stages of child development in this article I’m going to focus on mommies of toddlers.

Yes being a perfect mother, knowing it all as a mother is a MYTH. We should never forget that no one style of parenting works for a child and all of us have different family circumstances but one thing that should remain the same is self love. Now self love is not about validating yourself time and again it is about learning to accept and love yourself unconditionally. Motherhood is a journey where we may at times learn from making errors and trust me it is ok to not know it all and learn in the process.

I recently came across a couple who have had a rough relationship ever since their first child was born but now that things are going smooth in their relationship they realise that their child has become somewhat attention seeking which is normal for a toddler and more so if they have seen fights in family in their initial years. In a conversation with this couple I heard the husband say ‘ ma’am you please talk to my wife she has made my toddler very dependent on her’, ‘ she gives him too much attention’. This is not the first time I heard this as a therapist and how we usually handle such situations is being making the couple share the load as a team instead of playing the blame game. However this one statement and many such statements hit the mothers so hard at times. Hence sharing a few tips for all the women out there who are striving to become a perfect version of themselves, let’s stop take a deep breath and go with the flow. Here are a few things one can do to battle this out:

1) Focus on enjoying these moments with your child instead of focussing on validation of being a good mother from people around you, by being mindful of each and every milestone your child achieves. Just try to live those moments with your child without judging the child or yourself. You don’t have to always focus on correcting or shaping your child’s behaviour just enjoy those moments, try to be in the here and now by focussing on making a connect with your child instead of trying to be perfect.

2) DO NOT compromise on your hobbies as a mother. Don’t feel guilty for enjoying your quite reading time while your toddler is busy in his own activities.

3) If you are a working mom and are experiencing the guilt of not being able to spend enough time with your child let me remind you that your focus should always be on the quality of time rather than quantity of time. Even if you sit with your child for 15 mins daily but give him/her your undivided attention without any screen is enough.

4) Make it a point to set aside some me time for your own self. If you have family support ask for it and if you don’t then make an activity schedule for your child so that they are also engaged in some activity ( like scissor cutting with kid friendly scissors, colouring, painting or anything they enjoy) while you enjoy your me time. This would not only give you a time out and help you in being a happy mommy but it would also inculcalte independence and a lot of other life skills in your child.

5) Do not punish yourself for any behavioural issues or temper tantrums that your child may exhibit. Understand that it is ok for toddlers to express their emotions via tantrums as they are still learning emotional expression and do not know how to deal with big emotions. Give them space, do not give in to their tantrums. Remember it’s a phase and it shall pass with the help of adequate management techniques. So next time your toddler has a melt down instead of taking it personally focus on the cause behind it, help them by verbalizng how they feel instead of punishing them or hitting them for experiencing those feelings. Do not penalise your self or them for these behaviours please.

6) Make journaling a daily habit. Your own diary is one place where no one will judge you and it would also give clarity on your thought process. Remember acceptance of how we feel helps us in dealing with it better.

7) End your day by writing gratitude not only for the good things that happened in your entire day but also for your self. Do not forget to applaud yourself for the smallest of achievements you make each day.

The bottom line is yes parenting is a challenging task but we make it all about how we are handling our children instead of understanding that every child is different, has a set temperament and we can never ever shape them into perfect ‘model kids’ just like the society wants them to be. Infact by taking time outs from your duties, accepting yourselves, loving yourself and just by focussing on establishing a connect with your child instead of getting into right and wrong you are not only creating happy hormones for your self but are also fostering a healthy parent child bond.

So mommies instead of striving to be a ‘Perfect know it all mommy’ just try to go with a flow and be a happy woman first of all. One analogy that fits here perfectly is ‘ when you travel on an airplane the flight attendant will instruct you to first learn on how to wear your on oxygen mask and then help others, that’s exactly what we need to do in real life, first focus on your own happiness and well being and rest all will fall into place.

So let’s all promise to love ourselves a little more from today, and remember we are all doing our best.

PS try hugging yourself at the end of everyday and applaud yourself for being you.