For Moms

How to Love Being a Mom (When You Feel Inadequate)

I know those days.

The ones where you just want to throw in the towel.

The house is so messy that you’re pretty sure anybody peeking in the windows would think this was a home for really naughty, unsupervised orphans.

Who am I kidding? They wouldn’t have to peek in the windows, because there are toys all over the yard.

Even your husband wonders what you do all day.

You’d like to grab a book and curl up in bed, but you can’t, because everyone is hungry. And dirty.

You’re drowning, and you wonder how much longer you can hold on. You feel like an an inadequate mom and not cut out for this.

It sounds cliche, but if you’re a mom you’ve been there.

Mothers are the first to get up and the last to go to bed in most homes.

Driven by an innate need to nurture and love, moms live their lives for others, often sacrificing their own hopes and dreams.  

And yet, even during those darkest and most difficult days, it is critical to find joy in motherhood. Dr. Phil is right that moms usually sets the emotional tone of the home.

After all, most of us women have been trained to think with our hearts first and our heads second. It seems to rest on mom to radiate the warmth and compassion that makes a home happy.

Here are 6 simple habits and confidence boosters that will help you to take joy in and love being a new mom, even when ‘momming’ is hard.

1. Find Meaning in the Role of Mom

The first step to being a happier mom is to find meaning in the role. Motherhood isn’t fulfilling when undertaken for personal fulfillment.

Our kids aren’t pets or cute accessories for whom we purchase matching outfits. They aren’t fun gadgets to play with. Rather, they are human beings with tremendous needs.

It is a joy-filled (not necessarily fun-filled) privilege to raise them, but we won’t recognize the joy until we think of motherhood as a selfless way to serve others and to progress in our own development.

What are your goals as a mother? Try to think of motherhood a profession rather than a hobby, and take a minute to write a business plan as if your livelihood depended on it. Because it does.

Your family is the one thing you will have for eternity – the only thing you will have after death. No success can compensate for failure in the home.

2. Learn Homemaking and Parenting Skills

Have you ever loved a job you were terrible at? Did you look forward to attending classes you were failing? Of course not, and the same is true of motherhood.

Nobody is born a great cook, seamstress, budgeter or housekeeper, but each can be learned.

As you learn these skills and become proficient at them, you will better enjoy them. And as you become passionate about creating a loving and joy-filled home, you will learn to take more joy in the process.

The hobbies I find the most enjoyable and fulfilling are the ones in which I invest the most time and effort. And as I progress in my abilities, my enjoyment grows, causing me to want to invest even more time and effort. It’s a wonderful cycle!

I find excellent parenting and homemaking articles online. I find that my favorites are usually blog posts written by experienced moms who are not blown about by child-raising trends.

3. Pursue Gratitude and Choose a Joyful Mindset

A mom who enjoys homemaking is a far more effective mom. Have you noticed that ‘when mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy’? Changes inside homes begin with us moms.

And change for us begins in our heads.

All humans are naturally prone to a negativity bias. Our brains notice possible problems and remember negative emotions more easily, so it is natural to get stuck there.

We have to choose to turn toward the sunshine moments and to remember them gratefully. We can learn to be grateful for small things, like a gentle breeze, or blossoms on a tree, that we would ordinarily not even notice. We also have to choose to be present and participate in those moments.

Kids are great at living in the moment, investigating each bug and rock and enjoying it all. But we moms have taught ourselves, of necessity, how to multi-task. We survive by keeping mental lists and checking off tasks.

It’s difficult to turn that off and just be, but it is critical to our joy.

Feeling grateful is a mood booster. It can be as simple as praying daily, thanking our Heavenly Father for all of our blessings, however simple and small.

4. Cultivate Realistic Expectations

You don’t have to love motherhood every second of every day.

I give you permission to even absolutely hate certain aspects or moments, and further I encourage you to give an honest voice to your feelings.

We moms need to stick together and be real with each other. It’s exhausting to pretend things are hunky dory when they aren’t.

Nobody warned me about motherhood before I gave birth to my first.

I was blindsided by hemorrhoids, bleeding nipples, bodily fluids and exhaustion. Not to mention diapers, vomit and the never-ending dishes, laundry and feeding.

I was positive that no other mother had ever hated motherhood like I did and certain that I was evil for hating what everyone else said should be sacred and wonderful.

The stigma of admitting that you don’t really love being a mom is enormous. Perhaps if we didn’t expect that mothering would be the most joyous time of our lives, we wouldn’t feel so guilt-ridden for feeling otherwise.

Acknowledging our ambivalence – the fact that not every moment, nor even every stage, of motherhood is fun – allows mothers to accept themselves and legitimize their feelings, making motherhood more authentically enjoyable.

Parenthood is not automatically accompanied by an endless stream of rampant enthusiasm for all aspects of the job.

Realistic expectations about your responsibilities are just as critical as realistic expectations about your role.

Mothers are so bombarded with images of perfect homes, perfect meals, perfect children in perfect designer outfits, and even perfect outings for our perfect families.

And of course the mother looks like a 20-yr-old perfectly coiffed supermodel and is a corporate attorney.

Aspiring to what the world seems to project as the perfect life is a recipe for heartache. Yes, our homes should be clean and our families fed. But do we have unrealistic expectation?

Are we cleaning for atmosphere instead of function?

5. Develop an Eternal Perspective

Learning to see difficult situations from an eternal perspective helps us to remember that trials are temporary.

Your newborn baby will learn to sleep through the night, your toddler will eventually potty-train, and someday your house will even be quiet and clean.

What will matter then is that you took the time to sit and read stories, kiss skinned knees, and stay up late listening to the excited teenager after that big first date.

During our first year of marriage, I worked as a CNA (nurse assistant) at a nursing home.

One very wealthy elderly lady was the loneliest and saddest person I have ever met. She had not wanted children as a younger woman, and had instead poured her energies into her career.

I was expecting my first child at the time, and the one thing that this woman always told me was how lucky I was and how I should cherish my children and have lots.

When you have choices to make, such as cleaning your house or cuddling a sick child, try to imagine what you would wish you had chosen 100 years down the road.

“It [Eternal perspective] gives you more patience, and it certainly awakens you to the preciousness of the moment, which is fleeting,” says M.J. Ryan, author of The Happiness Makeover.

6. Take Time to Be YOU

You are a mom, but that is not all you are.

You are still all of the amazing attributes and talents that you were before motherhood.

In fact, those things make you an even better mom, and as your kids grow, they will appreciate and admire those things. So take time to continue to polish them.

Paint your masterpiece, write your classic novel or compose your magnum opus. Enjoy your friends, spend time at the gym, take time to be you. Where motherhood is concerned, a brief absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

And Then There is Grace

Of course, even if you do all of these things, you’ll still have days where you want to pull your hair out.

You might think back on your day and realize that you never once hugged one of your kids. Few things hurt more than wondering if we are inadequate as a mom at one of the most important jobs in our lives.

So you sneak in and kiss that sweet, sleeping child’s forehead and as love for that child floods through you, you remember that you, too, are a child of your Heavenly Father, who loves you every bit as much as you love your children.

He forgives you your weaknesses and helps you to overcome them.

While you are not perfect, you have a Savior who is.

He will sanctify and magnify your efforts. And hopefully you’ll be less likely to think there’s something wrong with you.

Maybe you’ll even be able to find a tiny sliver of sunshine and the gratitude you feel for it will tip the scales in favor of joy.

Of necessity, having birthed eight wonderfully creative, but messy humans, Amy has honed her superpower, ‘Entropy Annihilation’, to shiny, razor-sharp perfection.

Amy advocates sunshine, pinches pennies, cooks nutritious meals, builds and remodels homes, homeschools her children, and runs the family farm and orchards. Amy is a musician, an artist, a writer (she blogs about ALL the things at Orison Orchards) and a disciple of Christ. She wears a zillion hats and she likes it!

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This came at such a perfect moment in my motherhood journey. I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed lately with my kids, and I know a lot of it has to do with the fact that my husband has been on a lot of business trips lately leaving me with all the work and little support. Thankfully, my brother and sister in law stepped in and took the kids off my hands for a day so I can catch my breath, but as a type A woman, it’s hard to reach out and ask for help when you truly need it.Reply to Lissette
What a great brother and Sister-in-law you have! Asking for help is hard, I know! And overwhelm is totally normal! Just be sure to look in on your sleeping treasures after you put them to bed and know that God gave them to you because YOU are the perfect mom for them!Reply to Amy
I am literally crying as I read this article. Today I was questioning if I was a good mom or not. I got up, cooked breakfast and shortly after I cleaned the kitchen. Then I played with my son, changed a few poopy diapers and put him down for a nap. To only get up once again clean the bathrooms, wash and fold clothes and prepare lunch. It was at that moment when my significant other told me that he’s tired and he wants to take a break. If looks could kill…….I walked away, took a minute to recover and regroup. This article is on point. There will be days when I cant do everything and that’s okay. At the end of the day my baby does not know that the house has toys everywhere. All he wants is a happy and healthy mama!!!! Awesome read. I apologize for any typographical errors, trying to get everything in before my computer shuts down on me (AGAIN)!Reply to Shatoria
You are a great mom — I can tell! In ten years, today’s messes won’t even matter, but your little guy will remember all the bedtime stories and giggles and shared joyful moments. Those moments are what matter long term! And we moms can choose to create and cherish all the little moments even when our spouses choose other things. I hope today is perfect for you!Reply to Amy
Amy thank you for this. I have become so overwhelmed trying to transition to a mother of 2. One is a toddler and the other brand new. Desperate for reassurance, I found myself scouring the internet for answers to how to survive being a mother. I have been feeling so down and worried that I am just not made to do this. Your article truly speaks to every emotion I have been feeling and it is such a relief to know that my emotions are not only normal, but shared by every mom at some point. Thank you for the encouragement. Now I can take a deep breath and start this next hour over. But first… change a poopy diaper 🙂Reply to Victoria
Two is overwhelming, especially when they’re close in age. Hang in there! It will be worth all of your work as they get older and are best friends! Hugs!Reply to Amy
Thank you for posting this amy! there really are times that i sit and think to myself that am i doing enough as a mother, am I giving out the best for my family and especially our babyReply to Jesse
It’s totally normal, we all feel that way! You know how the pre-flight video instructs you to put on your own oxygen mask before you put on your child’s? That’s true in daily life, too. In order to keep being those giving-machines that we mom’s are, we have to have something to give. So we need to give ourselves permission to spend time with friends, at they gym, bible journaling, or whatever we need to do to fill our own buckets.Reply to Amy
This is so encouraging. I just endured a challenging day, my nerves just felt so raw. All evening I dreamed about bedtime. When I could finally be alone. Thank you for the reminder that it’s ok not to love this job all the time. I’m definitely sharing this.Reply to Lily
Oh, Lily, I’m sorry! We’ve all been there, I assure you. It is SO okay to not love the job at times and to need to step back. Things always look brighter in the morning! I had a hard day yesterday, too. It’s a good thing kids are resilient, because I have really rough moments (and days and weeks!) and my kids always forgive me and love me anyway. In fact, I console myself for my mistakes by telling myself that I’m a great example of showing my kids how to apologize and repent. Aren’t we all just learning a whole lot from this blessing called motherhood?Reply to Amy
Perfect article that I, too, wished I had seen roughly 23 years ago! The only area that I never got to big on was housecleaning– I knew having kids would always leave the house messy (toys scattered, clothing everywhere, etc.). Because the internet was just getting started I would take the time to read parenting magazines whenever I took my daughter to the doctor for a checkup or immunizations. Learned a lot of various methods of discipline that way! 🙂Reply to Linda
I’m sure your kids benefitted greatly from your expertise about discipline, and it doesn’t even matter now that the house wasn’t always perfect! I’ve always loved the poem ‘Babies Don’t Keep’ Cleaning and scrubbing can wait til tomorrow For babies grow up we’ve learned to our sorrow So quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep Keeping an eternal perspective is vital!Reply to Amy
Thank you for writing this realistic, heartfelt and empowering post on motherhood. Each category you mentioned resonated with me in one way or another. I will be pinning this! Great read!?Reply to Yvonne
Thank you for your kind words, Yvonne.Reply to Amy
Amy, What a beautifully well-written and timely post for me! This really changed my life and made me think about how I view motherhood. I think for a lot of moms, we get overwhelmed by it all. I know I do and I often feel inadequate and then I worry all night about whether or not I am good enough to be a mom. I like your tip about homemaking and making it a point to learn how to be homemaker! It’s a skill moms have to learn. With twins I had to learn fast how to cut our expenses and how to budget for clothes and toys and necessities that come with having twins. Thanks so much for this post! I’ll be sure to share it around!Reply to Elna
Twins, oh my! You jumped into the fire with both feet straightaway! I bet you learned a whole lot of skills super fast — just to survive! It’s kind of marvelous, really, how much motherhood teaches us, eh?Reply to Amy
Thank you for these reminders. Every mom should hear this. What a great perspective on motherhood. You touch on all the aspects that matter, and I wish I had read this 18 years ago when I struggled to keep a clean house, love my babies, hold a job and trying to do it all with a smile, which at times faltered woefully. Beautiful, thoughtful post.Reply to Jane
Wow, Jane — you had a lot on your plate! It’s inevitable that we all ‘falter woefully’ at times. It’s part of our growth as humans and especially as moms. If only we moms didn’t hold ourselves to the artificial standards the world throws at us. Momming can be beautiful even when messy and imperfect!Reply to Amy
Beautiful post and wise advice!Reply to Denise
Thank you so much, Denise! I feel blessed to have been able to share it over here!Reply to Amy