As a parent with postpartum anxiety, I admit that I constantly feel like a failure. I'll never be able to do enough to live up to the example my mother set for me. I'm afraid I'm going to say the wrong thing or teach my kid the wrong lesson. I'm petrified my toddler is going to drop his first swear word in front of his conservative grandparents. So it's no surprise to me that moms are wracked with anxiety. It can feel like we have the weight of the world on our shoulders! A recent study shows that new moms are more likely to experience postpartum anxiety than postpartum depression.
Newsflash: If you care about your performance as a parent, odds are you're doing pretty good after all.
Worst of all is the feeling that you aren't good enough. That every tiny misstep feels like a massive failure, an indictment of character. If you're stuck in one of those mental dialogues where your anxiety brain is telling you that you're a crap parent, allow me to be the one to shake it out of you.
Let me be the one to reassure you: you're not a bad parent.
Life Stress Makes Parenting Hard
First of all, life happens. parenting is not performed in a vacuum and every person comes to the table with their own issues and baggage. When life stressors get added into the mix, the combination can be overwhelming for the best of us. So, no. You are not a bad parent because your kid is having ramen for lunch. Sometimes you have to get an emergency tow and tap out your grocery budget for the rest of the week. Life happens. It doesn't make you a bad parent.
Postpartum Mental Health Plays A Role
Second, your brain is probably lying to you. Think about it this way: all of those mommy hormones in our body are designed to help us keep our babies alive and safe from harm. So our body's response to a typical life stressor is a wee bit heightened. I mean, PTA moms are a real phenomenon. It's almost commonplace to be "tightly wound" as a parent and especially as a mother. This is the pot calling the kettle black, let's be honest. Look, your brain might be trying to trick you into thinking that you are somehow less than the great parent that you are. Remember this.
Finally, sometimes kids are just assholes. It's not personal! Even the most well-behaved kid can "magically" turn into a temper tantrum nightmare machine. These things happen. It doesn't at all mean you're a bad parent. It means your child is a child. They are, by nature, emotionally immature and unstable. They're prone to drama and they struggle to regulate these new big feelings with this complex world around them. It's overwhelming to realize the world is so much bigger than you are. What do we expect from tiny humans going through this transition? Give yourself a break, mama. Rest assured sometimes your kid is just a jerk.
Moral of the story: you're probably not a bad parent. Sometimes life gets in the way and our mental health isn't the best or our a kid is being a brat, and sometimes all three of those things happen at the same time. No parent is perfect. But the absence of perfection is not a failure. Failure is not even trying in the first place.