As mothers we tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves. I realize in my own life that I have this standard in my mind of the things I didn't want to do as a mother and then the things I wanted to do. I have this idea in my mind, this picture of what would make me a good mother, and then there is this intense pressure to be sure I measure up to that. A lot of these ideas in my head are shaped by the pressures that exist in society. All the things I feel like I have to do that are being shouted from the magazines, the television, the parenting experts, the mom that seems to have the most perfect children. Don't let your child watch too much TV. Don't feed your child too much fast food. Are you giving your child a perfectly balanced meal three times a day and offering healthy snacks? Is your child spending a proper amount of time playing? Don't ever allow your child to eat in front of the Television. If you don't do everything right then you are going to have all these bad habits as your child grows and you're not going to have that picture perfect child. The list of do's and don'ts keep piling in and it's impossible to keep up with everything.
The toddler years can be extremely hard. I have felt the pressure of all these expectations weighing on me more now than I have the entire first year of Jase's life. I feel like if I don't get it right now then I am going to have to deal with the consequences for years to come. I read a post recently that was meant to be somewhat humorous. It talked about the first child and how we are so hard on them because we want to do everything right. We stress so much about being the perfect mother who raises the perfect child that we forget to look clearly at the situation and pick our battles. That phrase has really been resonating within me lately, the idea of picking your battles. It makes me a bit anxious yet it frees me all at the same time. I wonder what my motherhood journey would be like if I learned to pick my battles.
When I started to really think about the concept of picking my battles I immediately thought to myself, well what will people think of me if I am not following all the guidelines to becoming a perfect parent? What will people say about my role as a mother? I had to stop and realize where the pressures of doing everything right were coming from. When I realized it was myself that was putting this unnecessary pressure on my role as a mother, I was able to see that it was me that could release that pressure off myself offering freedom in motherhood.
So I decided to start looking at the situations I am facing with my toddler and focus on what battles really need to be fought. Is it going to hurt my son if he watches Mickey Mouse while he eats if that's the only thing that keeps him still? Is it really going to damage my son's character if I allow him to graze at a tray on a table in the living room rather than force him to sit in a chair at the table? If my son would like to walk next to me holding my hand rather than be pushed in a shopping cart will I be setting myself up for failure? If today he asks to watch Toy Story and cuddle with me more than once is it going to make me a bad mother? If he ate his chicken and applesauce, but refused his green beans do I need to feel like I am failing at providing proper nutrition? Yes, there will be times that mommy needs for Jase to sit in the shopping cart. Yes, there will be times that we sit at the table to finish our meal. There will be times where these things will matter, but there are also so many times that I will make myself exhausted fighting a battle that isn't worth fighting.
You know, there's so much freedom that can be found in picking your battles. When we turn off our mind to all the expectations and guidelines around us that tell us how to become the perfect parent, and we focus on taking each moment step by step it offers us so much freedom. In that freedom it enables us to be even better mothers because we aren't carrying around the weight and pressure that we allowed to be placed upon us. Stressing out over every little thing can be exhausting, it can really wear you out. It's amazing how much freedom can be found when you focus on the battles that really matter. I'm really relishing that freedom that can be found in that today, and even though I know I may have to remind myself on a daily basis, I am going to continue to take it one step at a time and choose those battles.