“embrace the ‘and'” in Motherhood


From the very beginning of my path to becoming a mom, I have had decision fatigue; too many carseats to choose from, so much commentary on screen time, countless opinions on baby food. Much of the time, motherhood has attempted to force me into a box, wanting me to make black and white choices – when it’s all but black and white.

Breastmilk or formula?
Public school or private?
Stay at home or back to work?

But even more than the questions that have kept me up at night, and caused me to scroll endlessly in hopes someone else provided me the “right” answer … I found myself being expected to make a choice regarding how I am feeling about being a mom, my kids, and this journey.

Do I love my kids unconditionally or am I annoyed by them?
Am I grateful to be a mom or do I wish I had more time for myself?
Should I have another baby or is my plate too full?

About one year into mom life, I came across the Instagram page of an influencer named Michelle, Founder of Safe in the Seat. And while I highly recommend checking out her car seat safety courses, that isn’t what captured my attention. See, she anonymously posts weekly confessions sent in by her followers – most of whom are moms. The majority of confessions encompassed similar thoughts to those above; moms sharing immense guilt for feeling anything but joy, love, and gratitude for their kids and the opportunity to be a parent.

Each time she would receive, then share a confession along those lines, she chose to also prompt the follower to “find, then embrace the ‘and'”.

For example:
I miss my son when he’s at his dads for the weekend AND I’m glad I have a moment to catch up on chores.
It’s frustrating my husband doesn’t have the same mental load as me AND he is also a great father, working hard for our family.
I’m uncomfortable in my post-baby body AND my body has served me well – I’m proud of what it has accomplished.

While it appears to be a simple mindset shift, to “find, then embrace the ‘and'”, it tends to be more challenging. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I often find myself falling short – still feeling guilty, burnt-out, or overwhelmed. The yearn to find peace as a mom is real – an ease in caring for my kids where I feel confident and unapologetic. I love what Michelle shared, but I won’t pretend it’s been a breeze to accomplish.

Then two years ago my dad died – and, somehow, it all became easier.

In the same vein that motherhood was attempting to force me into boxes, so was grief; happy or sad? joyful or grieving? angry or grateful?

Except, with grief, I chose to not give in. Rather, it didn’t feel possible to live anywhere but the gray area. I couldn’t simply pick whether or not to miss my dad, or decide if I was going to be sad he was gone – those feelings were a permanent part of my day to day. So, the idea I couldn’t be joyful while simultaneously grieving wasn’t an option for me; I didn’t want to spend the majority of my adult life melancholy, miserable, and mad.

Thus, I chose to “find, then embrace the ‘and'” in my grief. And without me even realizing, it began to bleed into other areas of my life. The more I adopted this new mindset to cope with the death of my dad, the more it seemed doable to apply to motherhood.

Motherhood is painfully hard AND being a mom is the single greatest thing I’ve ever done.

Allowing myself to feel the depth of both of those statements is so important. By “embracing the and” I have permission to release the guilt that would otherwise haunt me. If that isn’t the most beautiful gift we can give ourselves, I’m not sure what is.

So, here’s the challenge: “find, then embrace the ‘and'” once per day. Start small. Maybe it’s as simple as, “I overcooked the chicken AND at least I made dinner tonight.” Gradually increase to tougher areas, like motherhood, giving yourself grace in all things – not just the simple, trivial stuff. My hope is your mindset will shift, as mine did, and this new way of thinking will become your norm.

After all, it will be hard AND it will also be worth it.


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