Updated: Oct 2, 2022
I write this post for myself. Last night was a low point for me. I was on duty, (I work at a boarding school & so home is just a corridor away from my office) but it was bedtime & as ever my beautiful boy was struggling to fall asleep in my absence.
We’ve gotten into the habit of his daddy trying to put him to bed each evening because I am on duty until around 11:00pm each night. So far though, my beautiful boy has been unable to fall asleep in his daddy’s arms & so I have had to rush home to nurse him to sleep as quickly as possible before rushing back out of our accommodation to be on duty. Needless to say, this arrangement is proving to be physically & mentally exhausting. Last night my heart broke as I dashed away from my only-just-asleep-boy to get back on duty only for him to wake up & start screaming, “Go to mama!” & “Come back mama!” at the top of his lungs.
I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t leave him in that state & so I asked my colleague if she could cope without me for another 15 minutes. Thankfully, last night, she could. Back to my boy - his raspy screams calmed instantly the moment I held him in my arms again. My heart pounded hard in my chest as I counted down the minutes, hoping & praying that he would fall asleep again quickly. He did & once more I sneaked off to work.
I decided a while ago that this role is not right for me any more - the hours simply don’t work around our family life & I want to be home for put my son to bed without feeling guilty about it...I have handed in my letter of resignation, but my notice period doesn’t end until the beginning of July. So how the hell am I going to manage until then? I decided last night that whilst I can’t change my working hours or my son’s sleeping patterns overnight, one thing I can do is to give myself permission to not feel guilty. For my head, my heart & my soul, I need to let. That. Sh*t. Go.
I’ve been thinking about & researching this very topic since my return to work, & these are the 5 nuggets of wisdom I have garnered to help me through this period:
1) Stop striving for perfection. It doesn’t exist in life & most certainly not in motherhood. As long as I have air in my lungs, I will always do the best that I possibly can for my incredible boy & out family & that is more than enough. By letting going of the idea of some perfect, unattainable ideal, I give myself a chance to embrace my reality exactly as it is. The added bonus of this? Saying goodbye to the anxiety associated with falling short of my perfect ideals.
2) I let go of hand-wringing & regret. Worry & guilt serve absolutely no-one & they take away from my power & joy. I want them back & so, I’m taking them.
3) I acknowledge that my son would face challenges even if I was the ‘perfect mom’ (whatever that means) & that actually he will be a more resilient & adaptable child & adult if he learns at a young age that life is not a walk in the park. In the arms of loving caregivers, he will learn that when life throws us a curve ball, we adapt & grow & eventually we may even throw it right back.
4) I choose to love myself. By actively choosing to love myself on my dark days, I am modelling to my son how when he faces difficult situations, he needn’t beat himself up about them. Even (& especially) when the going gets tough, he deserves compassion & grace & so do I.
5) When I am with my son, I give myself permission to be there 100% without distractions, allowing myself to give him my undivided attention & leave work at the door. This fills both of our cups, making the time that we are apart manageable & even enjoyable, because we know that our time will come.
Here‘s to practicing what I preach, in the knowledge that I deserve all of the love & patience in the world - just like you, mama. Goodbye mom-guilt, may we never meet again.
If you need support navigating life as a nursing mother, grab your copy of: 'Self Care: The Breastfeeding Edition (50 Practical, Evidence-Based Tips for Nursing Moms),' here: www.thebreastfeedingmentor.com/book