Mom Burn Out

This post was originally published back in June. Or something like that. Look, I still have a cold, folks, my brain is leaking out through my nose, so bear with me, ok?

Anyways, as part of the #1000 Speak for Compassion #1000Speak, I’m re running it. It’s a bit edited, but I hope you’ll enjoy it. Please help spread the word about #1000Speak, about bloggers and other folks, banding together to try and flood the internet with compassion today.

Some good needs to break through the bad that we get inundated with, day after day.

What happens when a Mom burns out?

What happens when a Mom burns out?


I’ve often said that Motherhood is one of the toughest gigs going…not really because of the actual day-to-day regime, but the surrounding issues.

I mean, as a Mom, no matter what you do, you’re hooped. Big family, small family, stay at home, work outside the home…somebody, somewhere is going to deride your choices, call you selfish, misinformed. There’s always going to be someone whose choices are superior, whose children are smarter, better behaved, whose husband is more romantic, more successful in his career, whose house is bigger, better decorated, and who doesn’t worry about losing a child in the laundry piles…the list goes on.

Comparing ourselves to anyone else is a sure-fire way to madness. Yet, we do it, constantly. The media loooooooves our comparisons. Heck, the entire advertising industry is based on making us dissatisfied. Be it our body shape and size, our wardrobe, car, or household cleansers, the whole point of advertising is to make us unhappy with who we are, what we have, how we do things, so that we’ll run right out and buy whatever product they’re claiming will magically solve whatever issue they’re trying to destroy our confidence about.

We do it with our friends and family. ‘Sue’ has a knack for decorating, her house is so wonderful. ‘Jane’s’ children, who are the same age as yours, were conquering algebra around about the time you started to wonder if potty training would ever work, or your child would be in diapers forever. ‘Ann’ is always perfectly dressed, coiffed, and makeuped. ‘Sherry’ is always so laid back and patient, never a cross word or raised voice. ‘Shirley’ makes everything from scratch. Bread, pasta, grows every morsel of food her family eats is organic, and only ever harvested by the loving woodland creatures that inhabit her acreage, and sews all her family’s clothes, from material made from fairy dust and unicorn tears. (OK, that last example *might* be a bit of an exaggeration. Maybe.)

Then there’s you. Shuffling out of your room, groggy eyed, squalling baby on your shoulder that, at a year old, still doesn’t sleep through the night. (Unlike Jane’s children, who, of course, along with PhD level math skills by the age of 4, slept through the night since conception).  Tripping over toys that the kids have left lying around, and stepping on Legos and dinky cars. Muffling language that would cause Sherry to fall down in a dead faint, you concentrate on pouring coffee, without slopping it all over the table, and are almost successful.

You growl at your family, stomp through the kitchen, and fling yourself into a chair, while slamming some badly needed caffeine into your bloodstream.

And, looking around, you feel…a failure. Or, at least, a bit ashamed.

You want to be sunshine and light for everyone. You want to always have the right words, the patience, the humour, the gentle, loving touch, the organized, neat, clean home, and never have to yell, “Where are the toddler’s shoes? Everyone look!” “How about a clean shirt, pal? What do you mean YOU DON’T HAVE ANY?! I just did a load of wash!” and tear into the laundry room, only to discover that the load of wash is still sopping wet, and never made it into the dryer. You’re convinced that normal mothers don’t debate the merits of having a child turn their shirt inside out, and claim they didn’t notice…at least until you can hit a store and buy them a clean shirt, because you’re on a tight time schedule, and there’s no way you can get a shirt dry before you leave…hang on, what’s the worst that can happen if they wear a wet shirt?

You’re sure that nobody else goes through this.

Guess what?

We all have our ‘wet shirts’. All of us. We all have our blazing imperfections, our flaws, our struggles. There’s not a one of us that REALLY has it all together. Honest.

Some of us just lie better than others. And some of us would fall down in hysterical laughter to hear that anyone, EVER, thinks we’re one of the anointed ones that have it all down pat and perfect.

We are blinded by our inner competitiveness, our insecurities. They keep us isolated from one another, instead of supporting each other and pulling together.

Well, they do for *me* anyways.

So, from one completely imperfect person, wife, mother, to any others out there:

It’s OK. You can quit competing. The only standard you should measure yourself against is yourself. I’m trying (oh, TRYING!) to set and keep a simple goal: ‘Did I do better today than yesterday?’ That’s it. I’m trying my darnedest to quit competing or measuring up to some arbitrary standard set by people who don’t know me, never met me, and whose opinions shouldn’t have anything to do with me.

So, what about you? Did you do better at something today than yesterday? How about tomorrow?

If we adopted that mindset, can you imagine the impact we’d have? Advertising media would cease to have such a powerful hold on our society. Mommy wars would end. Mom burn out would be no more.

Compassion…for yourself. It’s a first step.

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Mom Burn Out — 24 Comments

  1. So very true and trust me I am probably the least compassionate to myself above all, as I truly am my worst critic 9 times out of 10. So, thanks for the words of wisdom and reminder here today, too.

    • I think that the root of Mommy Wars is about guilt. Somehow, we all, no matter HOW we parent, have some latent guilt…and react defensively when that guilt button gets hit.

      Otherwise, why criticize other’s choices, that have nothing to do w/you? Does it actually matter to you if someone works or stays home? Public schools, or homeschools? Unless they’re your spouse, or your financially responsible for them, then it really doesn’t impact *your* life at all.

      But we all have insecurities, and sometimes react as though someone else’s different choices are a condemnation of our own.

  2. Your post is spot on! You cannot compare your everyday to someone else’s highlight reel. That new car they are driving, yep, they have a loan to pay for it, meanwhile you are an older model is your own, no loan at all. The list goes on. It is simply not productive to compare yourself (or your children, or spouse!) to others. I really like your goal of asking yourself if you did better today than yesterday. In fact i like it so much i might just make a poster to hang up to remind myself of that, and the rest of my family too 🙂

  3. THANK YOU. Thank you for this post, b/c these are words that I desperately needed to hear. We always hear talk about mothers competing with other moms, but I’ve found that my toughest competition tends to be that inner voice inside myself that insists that it’s “not good enough” or that I could be “doing it all BETTER.” When I start feeling low already, that’s when the inevitable comparisons to others’ apparent successes seem so greater. Thanks for the reminder to be kinder to myself! 🙂

    • I think that’s something that is too often missed. We’re told that putting ourselves first is selfish, but at the same time, if we don’t tend to our selves, who will? And how can we take care of others when we’re depleted?

  4. You’re absolutely right. Even when I don’t want to, I find myself making comparisons to others sometimes. It’s just something we do, I guess. But if we do it less, we’ll be so much better off. I love your advice here. Did you do something better today than yesterday? Putting a focus on that is important.
    Thank you!

    • Comparisons are human nature. But, I think the problem is also that humans tend to be somewhat negative creatures. A lot is said about being selfish, prideful, etc, so a lot of our inner dialogue seems to be negative, for fear of being arrogant.

  5. Thank you for reminding me why I don’t judge parents I see in public who are struggling with their kids. All my kids are four-legged so I have no idea what parents of human children go through. I know a lot of people, particularly those without children, who get annoyed by a kid crying in a restaurant or movie theater. I always think, “Those parents have enough to deal with without me heaping extra guilt on them.”

    And it’s great that you’re always trying to do better. That’s a good lesson for all of us. We all should try and hold ourselves to a higher standard–just not an impossible one.

    • See, and to *me* parents absolutely have an obligation to remove a crying child from a restaraunt, or movie theatre. We’ve hustled a crying toddler out on more than one occasion, b/c you don’t have the right to disrupt other folks.

      Sometimes, there’s no option. I’ve talked about that one too, here:

  6. Love this! It’s exactly why I started blogging; to show other women that we all have our imperfections and that the women we think are so perfect struggle just as much as we do. Thanks!!
    (And congrats on the SITS feature).

  7. Yes! I loved this post and really connected with it. Sure on the appearance many people look like on the surface they are perfect and have it all together, but deep down underneath they have their imperfections. No mom (or person) is perfect. In fact, that’s what makes us human! (And I think admitting our imperfections to our children is actually a great thing to model for our children.) Wonderful post, and congrats on being featured on SITS!

  8. “Blinded by our inner competitiveness and insecurities.” Preach mama. Love the truth that such feelings bring isolation rather than encouragement. Thank you for the reminder to show compassion not just towards others but ourselves. Yay Team Mom. Also, I’m kind of new to this whole blogging set up so I’m not sure about #1000speak but I will check it out. Thank you for your vulnerability and humor.

  9. Loved it! You have a great sense of humor.

    “‘Did I do better today than yesterday?’ Sounds like my fitness goal for 2015: Just don’t be fatter than you were last year. Had my annual exam Friday and….Nailed It!

    Today was my first time doing SITS sharefest…what a cool blogger community:)

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