Why I refuse to sacrifice my life to parenting

Now before I have parents showing up at my door with pitchforks and torches, let me explain. Yes, I love my daughter with every fiber of my being. Yes, she’s fed, clothed, and cared for. I participate in field trips, her birthday parties are off the handle, and she’s currently learning how to speak French fluently. She’s a well rounded kid with incredible manners, patience and empathy. So what’s with the blog title? Well, regardless of all the things I do for and with her, I refuse to subscribe to the label “mom” and give up everything else about myself.

I have a hard time relating to other moms for so many reasons. The whole better-than-thou, god mom complex (that we all sort of develop at one point in our lives as mothers) makes it difficult to maintain friendships. Don’t get me wrong, we all have our judgments, I’m even guilty of them myself. It’s the mother’s that vocalize them that really make my skin crawl. The way you feed your baby, the way you discipline your toddler, the amount of screen time they get, the food they eat; everyone has something to say.

I’m just gonna say it, no matter how perfect you think you are, you fuck up too. Nobody knows what the hell they’re doing. Deep down we all know it, and hearing another mom tell me that they think I’m doing something wrong makes me feel like garbage; so why would I project those feelings of inadequacy on someone else? Social media only amplifies these feelings. Facebook is a highlight reel of everyone’s life. We don’t see the breakdowns or the tantrums. We see how perfect of a job all of these parents are doing raising their children and it makes us feel even worse about ourselves. So you can more than likely imagine my hesitation on writing this.

I think one of the biggest reasons my mother and I had a falling out (to put it lightly), is due to the fact that she had me so young and sacrificed everything. She dedicated her life to being a mom. She dropped out of school and almost completely gave up doing things she enjoyed. When I didn’t become what she wanted me to be, she would often throw in my face all the things she had sacrificed. She resented me. Not only that, but she lost herself to the roles of ‘wife’ and ‘mom’.

When I was on maternity leave for a year, I found myself falling into similar habits. I stopped caring about myself and put all of my daughter’s needs before mine. I sacrificed my sleep, my mental health and who I was as a person to make her the absolute #1 priority. I wasn’t happy and honestly, what was that teaching her? Do I want to teach her to grow up and live her life for someone else? Hell no.

So I decided I would break the cycle. I began doing things I enjoyed. I went to the gym, I started working in an industry I’m passionate about, and I began genuinely caring for myself. The “mom guilt” still makes its appearance on a somewhat regular basis, but that will never go away thanks to the ongoing judgments of the ‘Perfect Moms’. Despite understanding the importance of caring for myself, their words still cut deep and make me question my worth as a mother.

Regardless of how other mothers perceived me, I saw a positive shift in my parenting style and it made an incredible change to my mental health. Anxiety attacks were few and far in between and depression episodes were present, but not as frequent. I saw myself as more than just ‘mom’ again, which made me a better mom believe it or not. When I feel myself start to slip, I reflect on whether or not I’ve taken care of myself. Usually, the answer is no, so I begin reaching out for help and focusing on my needs.

We don’t need to sacrifice ourselves to raise independent, well mannered and happy children. I can be Sam, the makeup connoisseur, the video game enthusiast, the nerd, the writer, and the happy and present mom. This may be an unpopular and unconventional opinion but, I’d like you to take a second and answer these questions honestly: Who are you? What kind of things do you enjoy doing? What makes you happy?

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Thanks for reading!

Toxic personality traits tend to stem from childhood environment

Our first five years after birth become the foundation of our personalities and how we see the world. The years following shape who we are as people. While the nature/nurture debate has valid points on both side, environment plays a heavy role.

It’s never easy to spot a toxic person in your life, let alone a toxic parent. When you’re a naïve child with a rose-coloured-glasses-view of the world, your parents are like superheroes. They can fix anything whether it’s a broken toy, broken skin or even a broken heart.

Our parents will always be our biggest influencers. They teach us about relationships, manners, political views. A lot of these lessons stem more from example than actual communication. We watch how they react, how they interact. It isn’t until we’ve gone through a fairly substantial chunk of life that we can trace back our own traits to experiences that occurred when we were growing up.

I was at a seasonal family dinner at 16 when my maternal grandmother told me

“Wow Sam, you used to be such a confident child. What happened?”

I questioned that myself. Where did that confidence go? Was I the reason? Something I must have done that caused me to go from loving the spotlight to feeling like I’m drowning anytime there’s attention pointed my way.

It wasn’t until after extensive therapy and leaving an emotionally damaging relationship that I realized that one of my biggest influencers had a tendency to move the goal posts on me. I was always scared to try because it was never good enough. I was only ever given negative reinforcement. So what was the point in giving my all… Or anything for that matter?

It had gotten so bad that when we would have feedback sessions at work, I could feel myself grasping at the thoughts leaving my head until it was my turn to contribute. My mind would go blank, my face would get hot, my voice cracking as I try to get anything out. Anything I could manage to think of at the time would sound ridiculous and inadequate in comparison to what the others would say.

There’s a whole slew of toxic and negative personality traits that I’ve seen in myself recently once I stepped back and analyzed the series of events that lead up to the person I am today.

Just because we develop these tendencies, doesn’t mean we’re stuck this way forever. I’m not saying it’s easy to unlearn whats been ingrained in us since birth, but it’s 100% possible. Realizing what needs to be worked on is the biggest step. A step needed to ensure our children and loved ones don’t develop the same negative actions and anxieties that we did.