As a pediatrician of over 30 years and a mother for even longer than that, I have listened to a whole lot of mothers. In listening to you over the years, I have come to understand some fundamental truths about us. At least, some things that I think are true.
First, we are a group that wants desperately to be good at what we do. We want to be good to our friends and husbands and we want to be great to our kids. We love intensely and we work hard. These are good things, but what I have also experienced with mothers is that we can become a bit obsessed about our role as moms to the point of stress.
When it comes down to it, parenting is pretty simple. That goes for moms and dads. Balance is possible. You don’t have to be stressed all the time. In my years of observing happy mothers, I’ve noticed they have several habits in common. Here are a few of them.
They maintain key friendships.
Friendships are easy to form in our childhood, but as we become adults and especially as we become mothers, friendships are more difficult to come by. We are busy and worried about young children so we don’t prioritize friendship. We think we’ll have friends once the kids leave the house but really, the older we get the more complicated life gets. We will never feel like there’s enough time for relationships, but we as mothers are relational creatures. We need other women in our lives.
We thrive on loving and being loved, talking and listening, seeing and being seen in the way only friends can do. Loneliness makes parenting even harder than it needs to be. Community helps us thrive. Prioritize your friendships. They will carry you through the most difficult times.
Loneliness makes parenting even harder than it needs to be. Community helps us thrive. Prioritize your friendships.
They say no to competition.
Every one of us mothers is competitive with other mothers in some way. The biggest difficulty of the game is that our competitiveness is usually disguised and deeply hidden from even our own sight. We are often secretly competitive, even with our own friends who are also moms.
But if we want to live healthier, happier lives, we’ve got to call ourselves on it. We have to resist our culture of competitiveness and view each other as allies. If we don’t, we squander any opportunity for real friendship and we will simply exhaust ourselves by always trying to be the best.
MOMS. We have to resist our culture of competitiveness and view each other as allies.
If you want to be a good mother to your child, don’t compete with other moms. Your child doesn’t care what your friends April, Cindy or Jenny are doing as parents. Your child just cares about you.
They make time for solitude.
Why do we need solitude? We need it because it makes us more sensitive mothers. Removing ourselves from constant stimulation and noise actually sharpens our sensitivity. Also, solitude forces us to face ourselves. In solitude, we learn to like ourselves better because we are faced with our own company. It helps us heal from old hurts so that we can be free to enjoy the present and it refreshes us in ways that the company of others can’t. Even though you are taking time away from your kids and family, spending regular time in solitude will ultimately help make you the best mom you can be.
Removing ourselves from constant stimulation and noise actually sharpens our sensitivity.
Being a mom is hard but these habits aren’t, especially once you’ve worked them into your routine. You will find that being in consistent community, choosing relationship over competition, and taking time for self now and again will make you a better mom, and a better person.