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Photo Credit: Creative Child Magazine

Dear Mom Who Is Too Hard On Yourself,

It’s shocking, isn’t it? Motherhood.

The way it stretches not only your body, but your mind and spirit, too. It stretches your ideas, your judgements, your dreams, and your fears. It takes your ego and throws it high into the air, then catches it and slams it down onto the ground hard. It forces you to confront the worst parts of yourself, sometimes by staring down into fierce little eyes that mirror your own determination or rage.

Motherhood isn’t just about raising children. Motherhood is where you, yourself, are raised up to your highest potential, if you’re open to it; if you listen.

You know this is big. You understand how high the calling of motherhood is, and it’s beautiful and joyous and amazing. And it’s heavy. And every day you show up one more time and try. That’s really brave.

No one tells you how brave that is, but it really is brave to show up every single day when so very much is at stake, and you might have to crawl out of bed or off the floor and straighten those shoulders up, put on your best fake smile, and dust off yesterday’s perceived failures, but you do it anyway. Day after day.

Your mama heart wants so, so much to get this right. You love those babies so much it hurts, and when you slip up, when you snap at one of them, when you yell after promising to not yell anymore, when you feel like you have let them down, guilt and regret pool in your chest and it burns your throat.

The tears fall behind the bathroom door again, and your inner bully is relentless. She tears into you when you lay your head on your pillow after the kids are finally asleep, and no rest comes.

When you get a call from school or catch your preschooler telling lies or your toddler bites her friend, you wonder where you went wrong and if they’re going to turn out okay despite your mistakes and shortcomings.

When your teen slams the door in your face or the night’s homework battle turned into full on war and you’re dripping tears on the math worksheet you’re checking, I know you feel like a failure.

Here’s what you need to know, mama. The rest of us are crying in our bathrooms, too. Every other mother there ever was has felt those feelings of guilt and worried if they were getting it completely wrong at one time or another, so don’t think that the rest of us are getting this motherhood thing right every day while you’re struggling to find your way.

We are all trying to find our way. None of us are perfect. Not one.

You have to stop being so hard on yourself. You have to cut the inner bully off and say “Shut up! No more!”

You have to extend to yourself the same love and tenderness and grace that you try to extend to your children because as much as they need it is as much as you need it, too.

And do you want to know a little secret? The more you treat yourself with gentleness, the more gentleness you can show others.

Make it your goal this week to shine a spotlight on your own goodness, successes, triumphs, and bravery. In your journal today, write down everything you did that was good. Write down how you made yourself proud!

And tonight, when you finally climb underneath the covers, don’t replay your mistakes in your mind. Replay how much you loved. Give yourself a little grace. Perhaps that’s the bravest thing of all.

A Mom Who Is Too Hard On Herself, Too

**This post was originally published at Creative Child Magazine. Find more of my Creative Child articles here.

Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide

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