When you hear the phrase “good mom”, what comes to mind? Keeping your children safe? Being attentive and present? Enrolling them in a variety of extracurriculars? Society (and especially other women) put so much pressure on one another to perform as mothers. We are expected to keep up with the doctor’s visits, the groceries, the mountains of endless laundry (it’s ENDLESS), driving to sports and activities, all while keeping ourselves together. And still, the mom guilt never seems to fully fade away. We play the game of comparison and are so incredibly hard on ourselves for not doing more. The never ending guilt and shame cycles around and around and the only reprieve is the two hours we indulge in our favorite Netflix series after everyone is finally in bed. How are we expected to continue on in this manner? What if we choose to also prioritize the care of the mother?
As a mom, the goal should be to not only raise your children to be capable, thriving individuals, but to also preserve a healthy and happy mom.
After birthing each of my babies, I found the road to regaining my sense of self was a long one. The hormones, sleep deprivation, being on a constant feeding schedule – all of it was both wonderful and all-consuming. There was little time, let alone mental capacity to think of ways to care for myself. This is normal to some degree – part of this season of life. But when I felt ready, I knew I needed to learn how to add in ways to prioritize myself again.
Through the pregnancy and postpartum haze, I found a new hobby – photography. It was a great way to be creative, but to also still feed into my obsession about my children. Win-win! I wanted to take better quality photos of my kids – not just in forced poses, but in a style that showed their true nature. I wanted to capture the little things that made them unique, the things that change so quickly as they grow. So I leaned into my passions – both my kids and photography. I wanted to learn better methods to manipulate light, improve my post-production skills, and find new places to take pictures. It felt good to stimulate my brain in a way that allowed me to express myself and dare I say – be an artist?
From there, with some encouragement from my husband, I decided to leap into my photography business with both feet. I CAN do this. I DESERVE to do something for me. My happiness matters too. When I’m using my camera, everything else falls away temporarily. My mind is so focused on my art that I don’t have the space to worry about my errand to the store, or the bill I have to pay. I am having fun and completely engrossed in my experience. It is the only time I feel completely present. And when I get home to my two amazing children, I feel more at peace. I have more room to engage with their make-believe games and more energy to chase them around the house. And even though photography temporarily takes me away from my children, I feel like I can give more of myself to them when I am home. And for that, I am a good mother.