I wouldn’t say I’ve always been the type to feel paralyzed with fear. Before I met my husband and family, when I was single and even before when I was with my abusive ex, I held strong self-confidence. I knew I had purpose and I wasn’t afraid to voice my opinions, even if some people disagreed with me. Something about becoming a mother and worrying about whether I’m doing the right thing all the time is sort of around the time when I felt my confidence slipping. The very day my son was born and weeks before these questions kept popping into my mind: I have never changed a diaper before, let alone held a newborn – how am I going to do this?
When I stopped working and my son was born, I had subconsciously started convincing myself that I was going to lose all of my hard-earned skills because I wouldn’t be using these skills when I was off work. I told myself that I wasn’t doing a good job with my son and I was worried about his weight and his development. I worried that I wasn’t being a good influence on the girls and that they would learn to resent me, just as I was starting to resent myself.
The truth is, all of this negative self-talk, not just being a mother, is what was taking a toll on my confidence and inhibiting me from expressing myself or pursuing my interests. But I think it’s more than that: I also think that in our relationships with other moms and people in general, we are so afraid to reveal our true selves that we lack authenticity and mask some of the REAL challenges we are going through. Perhaps we conceal some of our thoughts because of what’s socially appropriate, but perhaps we conceal some of our real thoughts and worries because we’re afraid people might reject us. Regardless, if there was MORE real and LESS conceal I think many of us would be able to break through the paralysis of fear.
Being a mom can be very isolating – if your major friend-base is work and you’re no longer working all the time, you’re going to feel out of the loop. If you’re the only one in your core friend group having a child or kids, you’re going to feel isolated. It’s because you no longer have the social network that you can relate to. That’s why many moms join mom-groups either in person or online. Mom groups can also be isolating, though. Because some of us moms are trying so hard to be the “it” mom. The mom who manages everything, the mom who nails it. Oftentimes even mom groups that are designated to help parents do their best (whatever their best may be), often end up having even more adverse effects on moms and their self-esteem. If you’re wondering what I mean by that, I mean that we start judging ourselves based on what we perceive others to be doing.
As I begin my personal blog, I’m again bombarded with negative self-talk. It’s like a part of my mind really wants to expand my passion and write, but another part of my mind is telling me all the reasons I shouldn’t. Namely, I’ve thought: what if people judge you? (The worst) what if they think you’re an unfit mother? What if they think you’re untalented and your writing is just taking up web space? What if you put a lot of time in this and it fails? What if you expose too much of yourself?
Despite the long lengths of negative self-talk any of us dabble in with any new challenge or venture, some very real truths always reign: Life is short. Embrace it fully. Any day could be our last. Do what inspires you and don’t worry about pleasing everyone, because you can’t. The hardest critic is yourself.
The more I break through my fears and start talking about my personal stories, the more I hope other moms/parents can relate and share their stories and aspire to be the best versions of themselves. Paralyzing fear is a real thing, I’m taking a stand against it and I’m no longer going to let it rule mine and my family’s present nor our future.