Hectically driving home this morning after running late (and feeling like a horrible mom for Diva only having 10 minutes to eat breakfast at school) I was listening to KLove radio and an interesting topic came on. They were talking about what stresses Moms out. After doing some digging I found out they were talking about a piece from the Today Show.
You can find the original article here.
But the whole point of the segment was that over 7000 moms were surveyed and the thing that stressed them out the most was themselves. The pressure of perfection. And sadly, we do it to ourselves more than outside influences.
As a mom of a typical child first, I spent all of my time trying to give her the perfect balanced childhood. Extracurricular activities, educational activities, friends, balanced diet, new and somewhat fashionable clothing (I have ZERO fashion sense in case you were wondering). I spent my time stressing about what all I needed to do to make sure that she was a well rounded person to take on the world when she was done with school – Diva was 3. Can you talk about undue stress? Seriously. But nevertheless, I stressed about it anyway.
Now being a mom of a Special needs baby, my stressors have changed drastically – now in addition to worrying about the previous ones (those don’t go away they just don’t keep me up at night anymore), I have the added stress of feedings, germs, temperatures, hospital stays, equipment, therapy, and even more financial worries than were there before.
On top of all of this, Dad is about to graduate with his Bachelor’s and of course I have taken it upon myself to find him the perfect job – because I thrive on research and paperwork. And I am good at it – so why not!
And the one part of the article that hit me the most was this: “As women, we put on our Superwoman cape and we don’t ask for help. We need to ask for what we need,” she says. “The frustration comes when women feel like they have to do it all themselves.”
I have a total fixer mentality – I need to fix it if its broken. This hits me hardest with Superman, as I am sure all special needs parents face this, if not daily – fairly frequently. Whether it’s guilt, stress or any other number of factors, we feel we need to fix it the best we can. For some of us it’s doing things that can help the symptoms, for some of us its a constant race for the cure. We don’t allow ourselves time to rest because there is so much to overcome, and often our families sacrifice for the cause. Which in turn adds more stress. The balancing act of work, family and special needs is overwhelming.
In our TODAY Moms survey, we asked moms to pick the top three sources of stress in their lives and 60 percent of moms answered, “the lack of time to do everything that needs to get done,” while 41 percent said, “having to juggle so much between family and work.” Another 35 percent blamed the financial strain of raising kids.
It’s so daunting, but so accurate. When you are researching therapies, funding, equipment, issues, medications, then on top of that doing science projects, homework, playdates, doctor’s appointments, therapies, school, school functions, dinner, cleaning – there is barely time for that much less anything else!
In this survey only 35% claimed stress came from financial strain – however I think if you surveyed the special needs community it would me much higher – probably close to 90% – ask any parent who has applied for disability (SSDI) – that in itself is stressful, getting denied is even more stressful.
Something the radio personality said rang true to me sitting at a stop sign in morning traffic. Don’t aim for perfection, aim for the best you can be.
My house looks like a hurricane blew through, I have a zillion unanswered emails (and that’s not an estimate) and I will forever be behind on laundry. And stay tuned for my brilliant reasoning on why every mom should have a pantry stocked with Ramen noodles (derived from a moment where dinner just did not happen). Perfection just isn’t happening. But if you think about your parents and the stories you tell about them, is it about the perfect moments where they were on their game? Or is it about the happy accidents or crazy moments that ensued that added variety and color to your childhood. I figure no child is made with pure perfection.
Something’s gotta give, take off the cape and settle for happiness over perfection. She won’t remember that the dishes weren’t done before bed, but she will remember playing the Wii with you an hour past bedtime on a school night. Or the time you misread the volcano instructions on Pinterest and red, fizzy baking soda created a swimming pool in your dining room.
Much to our dismay, our mistakes are the stories that the grandkids will hear. Embrace the crazy, take a deep breath and realize you are aiming to do the best you can.
What stresses you out the most? Share in the comments!