You Know What Will Ruin My Kids?

by Alissa Marquess on September 19, 2013

It’s definitely after midnight when I hear her crying. again.

This isn’t one of those times she’ll just drift off back to sleep.  It’s the third (fourth?) time she’s awoken crying.  I’ve been up and down all night – just falling asleep only to be awoken again.

She’s got to be sick…I don’t feel a fever…what’s going ON!?

I sit by her bed, exhausted, foggy, trying to get her back to sleep, trying to figure out if she’s had a nightmare or if she’s about to puke in my hair.  Perhaps she’s getting a cold….?

I’m so tired.  I’m pleading, “Please,  Z, Mama is tired and she wants to go to bed.  Can you go back to sleep now?  Please?”

I will not let the Should Mama ruin my kids (3)

And then The Guilt starts (It’s 1am, do you know where your guilt is?)

You know, says the voice in my head...

You should stop telling her about how tired you are – it’s teaching her to put others needs ahead of her own.

If you were doing this right you’d come up with a story right now to help her fall asleep.  She would always remember how kind you were at night.  You should be like that.

For that matter, you don’t read picture books to her enough. You should read to her more.

For goodness sake! She fell asleep listening to the Harry Potter with her brothers.  I think maybe you’re ruining her toddlerhood.  I bet she’s crying right now because she’s having terrible Harry Potter nightmares.

And look at this room they share! 

You should have had them clean before bed – look at her, poor girl, she’s taking all her toys onto her bed because she has no clean tidy space.

Toddlers need order. They crave it.  You might be ruining her brain with this mess.

You should get rid of more toys.

You should be telling her a story.

You should get the boys on a better schedule.

You should have made them clean up before bed.

You should have brushed her teeth, not let her do it on her own.

You should teach them better money sense.

You should make them write thank you notes more quickly.

You should eat dinner at the table every night.

You should.

You should.

You should.

You……you know what?

You’re probably ruining your kids.

You should…

Oh my goodness!  I finally snap out of it.

I am squatting, uncomfortably, by my toddler at 1am.

And you know what Should Mama?  I haven’t lost it!  I haven’t snapped at her or used an aggravated voice or walked out in a huff to leave her alone;  I might not be perfect, but I am being patient and loving and back-rubbing and I am so TIRED.  Really, really danged tired.

I’m doing ok here, and I cannot keep trying to be this Should Mama that my insecurities thrust at me.

I sit in the dark rubbing my daughter’s back.  Her perfect little face is finally calm again as she falls asleep, soothed from her discomfort. Safe with her mama’s touch.

Me.  She needs me.  She doesn’t want that other mom who always keeps a clean living room and sings like Snow White.

She doesn’t waste time comparing me to the Should Mama.  She wants her mama here being patient in the dark.

She wants ME.

Getting rid of the shoulds

You know what will ruin my kids? It’s not any of those thing on the list of shoulds.

What will ruin my kid is if I let all of those “shoulds” bury the things that make me, me.

In the early hours of the morning I sit in the bedroom of my sleeping children and make a promise to myself.

My kids may not get someone who has schedules down to a science.  They may not get the mama who always has fun games for clean up time.  They may not get the birthday party perfect mama.

But they WILL GET ME.

And you know what?

I make really good pancakes.

I can make up a silly jingle for any situation.  I know how to do an under-dog push on the swing, make a bridge when I shuffle cards, and I can start a conversation with anyone. I can uplift a friend when they are down, and make a guest feel comfortable in my home. I find the positive side of a problem and I find gratitude in distressing times.

I will not let the Should Mama take that from my kids. I will not waste all of my time comparing myself to her and let her suck the joy out of my parenting.

Oh, I’ll keep learning, I’ll keep questioning. I will look a those ‘shoulds’, but I will not be held hostage by them, because I am somebody right now and my kids need me.

Right now my kids need me.

Banishing the Should Mama - Your Kids Need You

What “should” are you struggling with right now?  What parenting “should” do you have worked up in your mind as that which would make you a much better parent, a worthy and deserving parent?  Is it getting in the way of enjoying the things you ARE good at in parenting?  Could it even be stopping you from shining when your kids would love to see you shine?

That’s what they need.

Your kids need YOU.

 

Thanks so much for reading;  I’d love to chat more with you.  Join the Creative With Kids Community and receive inspiration and support in your inbox.  You are NOT alone!

156 comments
Maribea
Maribea

I really have never found a parenting-site better than yours. Your empathy is so deep to touch my deepest mothering-soul. Thank you so much for your words. I think you are a great mother. YOU! :)

Katie Holder
Katie Holder

Ditto. I snapped at naptime today, thanks for the gentle reminder.

Jessica
Jessica

I think it peculiar that you think teaching her "to put others' needs ahead of her own" is something bad. Isn't putting others before self honorable and charitable and loving? Mother Theresa, for example?

Jen LeTron
Jen LeTron

Woo, such a goodie for me right now :) thanks

Dhara Shah
Dhara Shah

Love this. It's such a good reminder

Catherine Michele Ross
Catherine Michele Ross

I so needed this. I think you wrote what my mind was saying! Thanks for sharing!

Pamela Hall
Pamela Hall

Great read. I find it interesting that she calls it an "under dog" push on the swings. Where I live we call it an "under duck!" :). Hope all the sleep deprived Mummies have good days today.

Lauren Quinn
Lauren Quinn

I am so tired of being told how or when I should be doing things for my kids. Them letting that get in the way of who I am, the best mom I can be. I am human. I am not perfect but I am good enough!

Susan Carr
Susan Carr

The past two nights have been difficult sleeping nights for my 6 year old! This was just what I needed this mornjng

Rachael Hundy
Rachael Hundy

Is there a reason why I can't share it? I was up most of the night with a teething baby and a toddler having night terrors. I'm so tired yet wide awake :/

Kayla Poitras
Kayla Poitras

I needed this today... I was up for almost two hours with my oldest last night doing exactly this.....thank you!!!

Palak Podar
Palak Podar

wow...I so needed this...its beautiful. .!

Elizabeth Kling
Elizabeth Kling

How did you know I needed to read this!?!! I've been up all night with a crying toddler and baby. Really needed to hear this right now. Thanks!

Lesley Losiewski
Lesley Losiewski

Thank you for the lovely post. Even though my daughters are 25 and 29, I still hear that nagging guilty should have "voice" in my head. Yes after so many year I look back and think I should done things differently...even though both girls are college grads and successful wives and mothers.....WHY???

Redjess81
Redjess81

This was fantastically written! I have the shoulds about being a wife too. My hubby and I were in counseling and that came up as one of my issues- too much pressure on myself to be what I thought I *should* be. I've started saying to myself- you can only so what you can do. Some days it's a lot. Some days it's less. But it's my best for that day. Same with being a mom. You can only do what you can do that day. Thank you for articulating it so well!

Shannon Elizabeth Mununggurr
Shannon Elizabeth Mununggurr

You are definitely not alone! At that moment we are always striving to do our very best, yes we ALL make mistakes but we still strive to do our best. We mums are the only (please dads do not take offense) people on earth who know what is best for our children and no one knows them like us. Don't beat yourself anymore you are a wonderful mother please believe n take care

Rick Mohabir
Rick Mohabir

When you become a parent you are given the most important job in the world. Kids don't come with an owners manual. As parents we learn as we go we make mistakes we try to correct them and do better . Every child is different and no ONE single way works for every child.

Blanca Duarte
Blanca Duarte

Truly respect your openness to share. Expression of feelings and open communication is the road to full acceptance of one's self. Powerful words. Thanks you!

Eve Stone
Eve Stone

Sharon Howarth, u sound like you are the most amazing person ...... All you need to add to your many successes is belief - in yourself. X

Hallie Davis Doyle
Hallie Davis Doyle

My kids are older...it's such a process not giving energy to the " should mama"! Thanks so much for this!

Selena Brennan
Selena Brennan

Sharon Howarth, I hope you also tell yourself how fab YOU are every day.

Kate Fairley
Kate Fairley

That's terrible. Please try to forget those words and start believing those who really care about you

Jeannette Simko Longo
Jeannette Simko Longo

Social media has broken down appropriate social barriers. Can you imagine someone saying the same to your face? It happens, I know, but rarely. And women are being horribly cruel to each other. What is going on?

Missy Hyde Bystedt
Missy Hyde Bystedt

Great post! The strength it takes to ask for help should only be answered with a suggestion to help make a positive change and a positive acknowledgement of the strength it took to ask!

Nicole Ross Kazikiewicz
Nicole Ross Kazikiewicz

Well said! Thank you for writing this, I think its a message that needs to be read often and passed around.

Sharon Howarth
Sharon Howarth

Well done for deleting the post. I grew up with parents who thought telling me i was fat, ugly and stupid was funny. Since i left home, i have got a degree, a teaching qualification, a masters degree, a fab husband, two wonderful kids and own my home outright - yet still i have the lowest self esteem - i assume compliments on my appearance are sarcasm, my successful career in education was a fluke and i now work in retail on minimum wage because i don't deserve a better job. People rarely consider the long term effects of their words. My kids never will suffer this - both my kids are told how fab they are every day.

Charlotte
Charlotte

That was excellent....thank you

Danielle
Danielle

Excellent post! Love it and in answer to your question I normally hear the should do more crafts, should do cute things from pinterest, should do more science experiments, etc. etc. etc.

Stephanie
Stephanie

Yes. So true. (And our houses sound so similar - I have a toddler girl stuck in a room full of big kids too, to make room for her baby brother's crib in the next room). Peace to you!

Elizabeth Bruchon
Elizabeth Bruchon

How simple it would have been to lie down with her and both sleep peacefully! She is big enough that you couldn't suffocate her, if that is a worry. She would gracefully learn to sleep in her own bed, but when not feeling well or when having nightmares, or just feeling out of sorts, the easiest solution and quickest, is sleeping with her because it is so comforting! I did it whenever needed, and have 4 totally independent adult children now.

Steve Spitalny
Steve Spitalny

Should is a dangerous and violent word! Shoulds and shouldn'ts always cause trouble and do not represent any reality - they represent someone's opinion, or an opinion we have allowed entrance into our psyche. Let's not 'should' ourselves, or 'should' our children.

Marybeth
Marybeth

*tears*. So. Many. Shoulds. I don't even know where to start. Thank you for this.

Katie
Katie

I LOVED this post. Ive been struggling with this SOOOO much lately! It's slowly moving in the right direction (very slowly) but I'm glad I'm not the only should momma out there. <3

Jess
Jess

Man-oh-man, I needed to read this this morning. I could kiss ya, for your words! Thank you thank you thank you!

Terrie
Terrie

I love the personal motto: "Thou shalt not "should" on thyself!" Wonderfully written!

katie s
katie s

Great post, really spoke to me as the overworked, stressed & usually feeling I "should" be a better mama to our 4 kids.

Beth
Beth

This was exactly what I needed to see. Thank you.

Melissa
Melissa

This is beautiful. Thank you so much. :)

Cristina Coro-Dickson
Cristina Coro-Dickson

I just discovered your blog and cannot thank you enough for your courage to share the truth - for it is validating everything I feel and am struggling with at the moment. After a nasty "mama tantrum" this week, I realized that I have to shift my thinking somehow in order to TRY to stop yelling and spiraling down into the dark pit of parenting. I am finding much comfort in your posts and am printing a few out to keep on my fridge. Your words are most nourishing.

Rebecca
Rebecca

Reminds me of what a wise woman once told me: "Stop should-ing all over yourself."

Alissa Marquess
Alissa Marquess moderator

@Maribea I am humbled by your compliment.  Thahk you for reading.

Alissa Marquess
Alissa Marquess

As women we are constantly given the message that we must care for others. I am a mom to three, certainly a nurturer and carer, but what I find is that this message can tilt women into forgetting to care for themselves. I spent much of my 20's thinking I was responsible for everyone elses happiness and well being, and always put myself last, and that was very detrimental to my health mentally and physically, especially in the early parts of mothering. I still struggle to remember how vital SELF care is. So, it may have come out confusing in the way it was written above, but what I meant by that is that I want my daughter to respect herself and nourish herself. When I don't care for myself it is so much harder to care for others. Thanks for your comment Jessica. ~Alissa

Jessica
Jessica

Thanks, totally agree! :)

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