Monday, October 31, 2011

The Happiest Mom Challenge: Take the Easy Way Out

"Being a happy mom is all about being yourself, not what anyone else thinks you should be, and relaxing enough to enjoy your kids and the rest of your life without too much second-guessing...move past the 'shoulds' and guilt, and be the kind of mother you want to be." (Francis 23)
I mentioned in my last post that I planned to blog my way through my "The Happiest Mom" challenge.  My plan is to pick one of the secrets to happy motherhood in Meagan Francis's book and find ways to implement it each month.  I won't necessarily go in order, but for the first month I thought I would start with her first secret--take the easy way out.

Now, you're hopefully better at this than me, but when I'm in a group of people (especially women, and above all, other moms), I start to compare myself to them.  Suzie makes all of her noodles from scratch, Shari hasn't had sugar in 12 years, Betsy hand makes all of her children's clothes, and Molly never, ever seems to be frazzled.  Meanwhile, I sit in my corner thinking about how it has never even occurred to me to make my own noodles, I think I would die without at least a little bit of sugar in my life, I stare at my kiddo's second-hand "made in China" T-shirt, and I'm not sure I showered this morning, and I definitely don't have any make-up on.

Anyone else ever feel like that?  Here's hoping so and hoping not at the same time.  In any case, I definitely find myself comparing, feeling overwhelmed, and sometimes even  a bit lonely in my apparent "loser Mom" status.

But then I step back and realize that 1) I can't do everything and 2) I don't even want to do all of those things.  I just want to know that I'm a good mom.  You would think by now I would just accept the fact that I'm not that bad and move on.  But, you know, I get feeling a bit insecure from time to time.

For example, the last couple of weeks due to teething, vacation, and heaven knows what else, I have had one very nightwaking baby.  I don't think there has ever been a time in his life when he has woken up this much.  Normally our co-sleeping situation works just fine and everyone is able to get a good night's sleep, but not these past few weeks.  And it's really taken a toll on me emotionally.

In a moment of frustration and fatigue, I shared this experience with a few ladies from church.  A couple of them were remarkably sympathetic and gave me a few tips for things that worked for them.  Others were a little more forceful in their comments and I just walked away feeling like a terrible mother.  I know they meant well but I just didn't feel comfortable with their suggestions and most of all, I just felt like a terrible mom.  When I came home, I was near tears as I  recounted the details of my conversation to Brennan.  For some reason, even though I feel that we've made well-informed and thoughtful decisions regarding our family's sleep situation, I started doubting myself.  Not because I thought we had done something wrong, but because I began to worry that we took "the easy way out"--like that was a bad thing--and now I was paying for it.

As we talked through some of our options Brennan turned to me and he said, "you know, one of the signs that you're a good mom is that you've really thought about this and you really care about it."  After some thought (and a nap!) I realized that here was the thing that was most important: everyone got the sleep they needed.  It didn't really matter what that looked like and it didn't matter if it was conventional.  It didn't matter if I took a nap instead of scrubbing the cupboards.  It didn't matter if Hyrum took a nap in my arms while I read a book instead of in his crib.  It didn't matter if I went to bed earlier rather than watching (yet another) episode of Arrested Development.

And so here I am, taking the easy way out.  And that's okay.  Nobody asked me to be Superwoman, they just asked me to be Mom.  I can be Mom with my store-bought noodles or with homemade ones.  I can be Mom if my kiddo sleeps all night in the next room or right beside me.  I can be Mom with my not-so-designer clothes and half-done make-up.

Now, as I write this, I don't think the answer is to take "the easy way out" on everything--just put some thought into the things you do that 1) don't make you happy and 2) don't really seem to be benefiting you, your family, or your children.  Even though disposables might be easier than cloth, using cloth diapers makes me happy and it helps my family financially.  I really like cooking dinner at home every night and it's generally healthier (and much cheaper) than eating out.  But I'm fine buying canned beans rather than soaking dried ones, and I'm fine using disposable wipes rather than cloth ones (though I tried that bandwagon...just wasn't for me).  I think we just need to find where to draw the line so that life as a mom (and in general) is, well, happy!

This month I'm going to look for ways that I can move past the guilt, the 'shoulds,' and take the easy way out.  Anyone want to join me in this challenge?  Are there things that you do "the easy way" that help to make you happy?  I'd love to hear!


  1. This is so great! And I totally fall into this trap as well. As if other moms seem p have a corner on the market of knowledge- and that they are for sure judging me if Harper and I do things differently than they did. And you are also not alone in your rough sleep patch. You probably remember reading of our sleep woes, but we went through months of inconsistent and exhausting night wakings and sleep patterns. You're totall normal and he'll totally move past it (though that was the point that we decided that our family needed some sleep training, and yes, I second guessed myself on that one too, often because I was worried about what others would think).
    Great post and great thoughts! I'll try this out this month too :)

  2. Amy, I think you are a great mom!
    When it comes to taking the easy way out, it's all about priorities. You can't do everything, so you do the most important things to you and let the rest go when needed. What is important to you and your family may not be to someone else and vice versa (like homemade noodles or cloth diapers).
    I co-sleep, breastfeed, babywear and use disposable diapers all because that is what comes easiest for me. I often decide that playing and reading with my kids is more important than folding laundry or scrubbing the toilet. Yes, the work needs to get done eventually, but I totally take the easy way out and play instead of work. They say that good moms have dirty ovens, sticky floors and happy kids.
    As for the sleeping rough patch, it'll get better. Every kids goes through it at one point or another, and we all survive. Hope you get back to peacefully sleeping soon!