Recently, I started a new health and fitness routine. When I say I have a high standard set for myself, it is almost set at impossible levels. It was just shy of two weeks into the new routine when I stepped on the scale and realized I hadn’t lost any weight. In fact, I had gained two pounds. I was frustrated and upset. Yet, again my body was failing me. My thyroid condition was making it tougher than usual to lose weight. This was my thirties and post-pregnancies coming at me with a vengeance. I was ready to accept failure.
My husband was quick to remind me that it hadn’t even been two weeks. He said what I am trying to do is a lifestyle change and will require a lot of time to see big changes; it won’t happen overnight.
He’s right. I know that. But for some reason, I continue to put that added pressure on myself. I have this idea or image in my head of how I should be and need to be there now. With this unrealistic mindset, I am setting myself up for failure.
There is a deeper root to this. I think it started when I became a mother. I think most mothers can relate to this. There are so many expectations family, friends, and society sets for you, as a mother. But, more so, there are so many expectations you set for yourself. It starts as soon as you find out you are pregnant.
Don’t drink caffeine. Take your vitamins. Deliver naturally. Don’t use the epidural. Breast is best. Bond as much as possible. Sleep training is torture. Don’t co-sleep. Vaccinate. Don’t vaccinate. Stay at home. Go back to work. Etc. Etc. Etc.
As you can see, this is just a sampling of a few pressures you feel when you become a mom. As much as you try to stand your ground, and be whatever kind of mom you want to be, the pressure gets to you.
When you feel like you can’t take the pain, and you get the epidural, you feel like you have accepted failure. When your baby continues to throw up the breast milk you worked so hard for, just to find out all that your baby’s sensitive stomach can only handle special formula, you feel like you have accepted failure. When you cave after your child has been crying and you are so tired, so you bring them in bed with you, you feel like you have accepted failure.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I impose these high standards on myself alone. But, after meeting other moms and becoming friends with them, I have a feeling I’m not alone. We set these standards for ourselves because as mothers, we feel anything less than perfection is not good enough for our child. So, when society tells us that thing we are or are not doing is wrong, the crazy mom guilt sets in. I’m failing.
Now that my second child is almost 2 years old, I think I can finally look at things related to my kids slightly more relaxed. I still care about doing things a certain way but I care less about what others think and more about what I think is best for my kids and my family.
Those standards are still pretty high but I impose those on myself. It’s something I’m learning everyday to work on. I need to be realistic and learn that I’m not accepting failure but adapting to change. No, I cannot lose weight the same way I did in my twenties before I had children. During a three-year period, I carried two children in my body. My body is not the same as it once was so my standards for myself should adapt as well.