5 Uplifting Ways to Feel Like a Fearless Mom Again
“My ball!” I wake with a jolt. I check my phone, 1 A.M. Oh right, we’re at the seaside. Elliot wails again “My ball”. His cry lingers in the staircase. He’s on the top floor. At home he also sleeps upstairs. We have a safety gate but never use it because Elliot has never, I repeat never, come out of his bed alone. He’s been able to do so for the past year and a half but once he touches his bed he doesn’t come out until we come in his room. We often joke about this. Just when I think he’s back asleep, he sobs again.
My heart stops
I go upstairs with my phone flashlight to guide me up the dangerous and rather unfamiliar stairs. Amelia’s in the room with him, the beam of the flashlight caresses her relaxed, little face. Then I point my flashlight at the pull-out Elliot was so proud to sleep in for the first time. We only had to take one crib along, win-win! Or not,… Elliot’s not in the bed. My heart stops. I check the rest of the room. There he is: standing by the window pointing at the moon in his red and blue pj’s. “My ball! “ he whispers, it startles me. I push aside my bafflement and kneel down beside him to console him. He doesn’t react, he doesn’t seem to be awake. I pick him up and gently put him back to bed.
Back downstairs, a terrible feeling creeps up: what if he had stumbled down those dangerous stairs in his sleepwalking modus? What if he does that later tonight? I can’t get comfortable in the bed and can’t decide whether I’m overreacting or if I should go get him and take him in bed with us. After an eternity of picturing worst case scenarios and then reassuring myself that it’ll be fine, I hear a stumble on the monitor. I get a near heart attack and race out of bed up the stairs, hitting my elbow on the way up. Elliot’s fine, although he’s again making his way out of the bed again but for a split second there I thought I would find him at the bottom of the stairs, dead, because of my poor judgement.
I cried holding him in my arms the rest of the night. And not just some tears, I mean the full-on ugly cry. A feeling of complete incapability washed over me. I questioned my whole existence as a mom. I didn’t sleep and with morning also came perspective, but the rest of the day I felt like a really terrible mom.
That day there wasn’t much I could do to instantly feel better. However I do have a few tricks up my sleeve for other moments of parenting despair.
These little things make me feel better:
When things are going terribly wrong at home, I – counterintuitively – remind myself to go outside. I’ll pack some bare necessities and take the kids to a playground, relative or friend’s house or to the supermarket. It breaks the downward cycle we were in and helps to reboot our moods.
Plan a date
Sometimes getting out of the house with the kids won’t help and you’ll want to get away without your little ones. Pick up the phone and arrange a babysit, preferably right away, but in most case that’s difficult. Setting a date somewhere in the near future for some me-time, time with your partner or girlfriends can help you get through that ugly afternoon with inconsolable kids.
Turn on the tv
Is your day going extremely bad and are you way past picking up a diaper bag or phone, then abort all good parenting undertakings and cuddle your kids in front of (day time) television with some snacks.
Take a hot shower
For me an uninterrupted shower is the equivalent of a three-day spa. So when B. comes home after I’ve had a tough day, I’ll leave dinner for him to enjoy with the kids and pop upstairs to enjoy a hot shower.
Fake it till you make it
Fake it till you make it – feeling like sh*t? Surprising as it may be, this helps: I put on my favorite outfit, throw on lots of make-up and I put on my favorite perfume. I look good, and often it makes me feel good. This actually really was the way I survived the first weeks of going back to work on practically no sleep.
What do you guys do when you feel like a terrible mom? I would love to get some tips!