Maternal Self-Esteem Can Run Up and Down
Do you have a mental checklist about being a mother that’s impossible to live up to? Do you think you must be empathic and self-sacrificing while being a multi-tasking genius capable of understanding every stage of child development?
Do you struggle to meet all those impossible expectations? If you say, “Yes,” think again. Because that mother is far too rushed and preoccupied. Kids need mommies, not efficiency experts.
Being maternal is so individual. It means finding out who the YOU really is as a mother, so that you have an identity to share. Your child doesn’t need a maternal giant. He or she needs someone they can get to know and trust. If you don’t know who you are as a mother ‘cause you’re always on the move, how will they?
What is Maternal Self-Esteem?
We have a fantasy of the ideal mother. That imagined person is called an ideal because she’s who we aspire to become. We don’t need to fulfill all our aspirations. That’s not what they’re for. Aspirations are there to guide us.
Self-esteem is the difference between the real and the ideal. If who you actually are is very far, too far, from your ideal, you will be filled with self-doubt. Your self-esteem will be low. You may have to revise your fantasy mother-self into something that takes in more of the realities of your life and what children actually need so you treat your ideal self more kindly. When your real self comes closer to a warmly guiding ideal self, your self-esteem will rise.
6 Tips to Tolerating Disappointment and Frustration
Using Parental Intelligence
Remember ideals guide. They aren’t meant to judge and shame. Here are some suggestions to help you tolerate normal frustrations of everyday maternal life:
1. Make your daily check list reasonable and doable or you will be counting what you didn’t do, not what you did do. Thinking more about what’s most needed is prioritizing. That’s using Parental Intelligence
2. What you say is more important than what you do. It’s not about how much you fit in between getting up in the morning and putting kids to bed. It’s about how much you listen and respond to what your kids tell you when you’re with them. That’s using Parental Intelligence
3. Focus on what goes on inside you and inside your child. Then the externals won’t matter very much. That’s using Parental Intelligence.
4. Notice your child’s facial expressions as keys to their feelings, not if their back packs are organized perfectly and properly. That’s using Parental Intelligence
5. Notice how your child listens to you when you accept her thoughts and feelings and your confidence as a mother will rise. Once again, it’s using Parental Intelligence.
6. Remember that the end of the day snuggle is far more important than the momentary meltdown you didn’t know how to handle. You can rely on your Parental Intelligence
I don’t mean with massages and ice-cream (though that’s nice in the moment), but with emotional care. Recharge your batteries by having some adult listen to you. Or, if you’re more solitary, take that half hour for yourself with a cup of tea or music. It’s easier to keep giving when we also receive.
Give yourself credit for all you try to do as a mother. Reassess and revise your ideals as you come to understand them. Just save the parts that are most important: trusting in yourself and accepting who you are so your kids know whom they are grateful for: You.
Laurie Hollman, Ph.D.’s book Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior, will be released October 13, 2015..