As mothers, we all too often put ourselves in the Motherhood Box of Shame (have you seen Despicable Me?). We spend too much time stuck feeling badly about what we’re doing and not doing. Making things exponentially worse, we are bombarded with chastisement by other moms, by our friends, and the media. Sometimes it’s direct. There’s an article about how we spend too much time on our phones, or a diatribe on a blog about being a stay at home mom is the only way to have good kids. Sometimes it’s indirect. We see on Pinterest all of the crazy crap other mothers are doing. A friend makes an offhand remark about how much time she sees you online. As you read, watch, listen and internalize, you metaphorically pull out your Box of Shame, and climb in.
The worst part about the Box of Shame is that once you’ve climbed in, it takes a whole hell of a lot to get yourself out. Shame builds on shame. Guilt breeds more guilt. Cardboard turns to brick, walls are made out of our own self talk, neighborhoods out of the guilt we feel when we compare ourselves to others.
Today, I once again started myself out in that Box. I woke up, looked at the sorry state of my house and already started to feel bad. If I spend the day cleaning, Abby will spend the day watching Yo Gabba Gabba. If I spend my day playing with the girl, the house is a wreck when the boys come home…to wreck it further. I build further- if I clean, it will just be undone anyways, so what’s the point? I get too bored playing with Abby, and that makes me sad that I’m not the kind of mom that actually likes playing with her toddlers. I begin to remind myself of just how much I’m not cut out for this. Then I feel guilty for not loving being a stay at home mom because I know that I am truly fortunate to be able to do so- especially given the needs of my children. I find myself laying in the bottom of the Motherhood Box of Shame, stuck from the get go.
I’ve seen many a therapist for this very thing. I have a long history of making therapists cry. As much as I appreciate their sympathy, I need someone who is going to tell me to nut up and throw me out of my box. I get that things are hard. I get that I deserve a break from time to time. But reality is that it’s tough for every mother, no matter what the needs of her children are. I need a way out of this damn box. I need a way to take a break without giving myself a hard time. So, I’m asking you…what do you do? How do you stay out of the Motherhood Box of Shame? If you climb in, how do you get out? What works? What doesn’t?
I’m honestly asking you for help. Do you ever deal with this? Go all sorts of Dr. Phil on me. I need it. And maybe other mother’s reading will, too.