As soon as we find out we’re carrying a child, self-doubt begins to creep into our thoughts. We read, observe, question, wonder and worry about everything from pregnancy to when our children will grow old. Having a child is life-altering and can often leave a woman feeling inadequate with the responsibility of raising another human being. It should come naturally, right? Wrong! When I gave birth I use to say, “each child should come out with their own manual.” Like when you bring home a new appliance; the manual comes with directions, troubleshooting, and what to do if you need to exchange it or return it.
Honestly, it would have been easier having a manual than stressing for years figuring out what to do with each child. This was especially true after I brought home my third child who was born with a birth defect. Here I thought I had motherhood down after getting my other children through toddlerhood. Now I needed a whole other manual for child number three.
Self-assurance is when we believe in ourselves and in our own abilities. The more positive outcomes we experience, the more confident we become. Coming to terms with having a special needs child was hard enough. My confidence was a bit shaky, so I quickly had to teach myself to believe in my own abilities and parent in this uncharted territory which became my life.
Here are a few things I had to learn on becoming a more confident mother:
Stop comparing myself to others
Women can be a great source of support – or competition for one another. We hear advice and everyone has an opinion. Many have great intentions and they truly want to offer help; even our own mothers. They mean well, but sometimes we have to try it our way – trial and error. What works for one person may not work for another and we must be respectful of this.
Social media can really intensify a woman’s lack of self-worth too. If you are comparing yourself with others to the point where it stresses you, stay away from Instagram, Facebook, and even reading other blogs when you are feeling down, and wait until you’re more in control of your feelings.
Our family was not going to become the norm. Play dates changed, vacations could not be taken, money was tight with so many doctor bills, so not comparing myself to my friends was detrimental to achieve my confidence.
Don’t carry the guilt
Guilt and mothers go together. I felt guilty when I went back to work after my first child. Then I quit my job after my second daughter and I felt guilty again. I wanted to be back at work helping contribute to the family income. Guilt is a confidence-killer. We can’t rid ourselves completely of it; we can minimize it though to some degree. Accept this fact – you’re going to make mistakes. When you do, don’t beat yourself up. Let it go and try again.
Lower my expectations
There is no such thing as “supermom.” You’re setting yourself up for failure if you expect to be one. We will not become a “Proverbs 31 Woman” and we won’t win the “Mother of the Year” award. They don’t exist! No one can do it all. I know, I’ve tried! Your health, marriage, relationships, job and your sanity will bear the consequences if you think you can. We all need help from time to time. Don’t be afraid to ask for it during the rough patches. Spotless houses, picture perfect meals, laundry done everyday, and you looking like a fashion model are high expectations to meet. Nor should your family live in filth, eat junk or wear dirty clothes. It is all about priorities and balance.
My daughter had to have many surgeries her first five years of life. Each surgery required me to stay in the hospital for days, and it took a toll on how I ran our household. I learned some things had to go in order to survive my being away. Depending on others for help and allowing things to be done differently was key to lowering my expectations.
It is OKAY to say NO
Again, prioritize. When you give yourself the power to say no, you gain confidence in your abilities to balance work, family, social activities and “me time.”
Make time for myself
This does not mean going to the grocery store by yourself. Whatever makes you unwind and de-stress, make time for it. Mark it on the calendar like you do everything else. You’re important and when “momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy!”
One of my favorite “me-times” is getting a massage. For one hour or so, I’m not a mommy, wife or caretaker. I’m in my own happy place, enjoying time away.
Take care of myself
No, this is not the same as making time for yourself. Eat healthy, get the sleep your body needs, and try to exercise, even if you just go for a walk. When we feel good, everything is manageable. When you are the mom of little ones this gets tricky. You may have to get up before everyone else to jump start your day with a healthy breakfast. Take care of yourself physically or you’re no good for anyone.
Go on dates
Remember when you would spend hours getting ready for a date? A new outfit, mani/pedi, hair, makeup done just right. You looked and felt like a million bucks. Yes, now you’re tired, feeling fat, moody and every other negative thing we tell ourselves. Who wants to bother, it requires SO much energy. Remember how you felt about yourself on that date. Dating is important for your marriage and for yourself.
My husband and I couldn’t always leave our daughter with sitters. Our dates consisted of creative “in-house” dates.
Have a support system
Spend time with those who build you up and don’t tear you down. Be with like-minded women that encourage and support one another. Our husbands and children cannot meet all our needs. This is where girlfriends come in. Support one another, be there for one another, step in and help without being asked when the road gets bumpy. Sometimes we just need “to vent” to someone who will listen and not judge.
We live in an age of information. If there is something you need an answer to, research and read about it. I didn’t have healthy role models growing up, so when I became a parent, I read everything I could get my hands on regarding parenting, and then based on my beliefs, I implemented what I learned. This is a real confidence booster when you see the results.
Have a thankful attitude
My time of raising three girls inspired me to develop a daily attitude of gratefulness.
If you are CONFIDENT,
you are BEAUTIFUL!
Photo Credits: Dani