Question: "As a parent I find myself questioning if I’m doing something wrong or if it’s this difficult for most women to raise children and feel happy and successful.
Could I be missing something?"
I have countless women (and men) question their juggling skills at low points along the journey. Raising children while trying to maintain a love life and sometimes a career too can leave the most competent person feeling lost or empty at times. After all, you pour out so much of yourself on a daily basis. Stop for a moment and ask your
self this: Who or what refills your tank after it goes empty? If the a clear answer doesn’t readily come to mind, then perhaps you are missing a mom mentor. I can provide some tips for how to find that mom who can help you rock the parenting thing. The process can begin as soon as a woman considers having a baby. Identifying a woman currently in your life who embodies some or all of the qualities and characteristics of motherhood you hope to achieve can give you a head start. The sooner you make contact with moms you admire, the easier it will be to set up consistent check-ins that will give you firsthand access to information, provide an outlet for getting your questions answered, and help reduce any anxiety you may have about parenting before it has time to settle in.
Don’t worry if no one comes to mind or if you’re already a mother. It’s never too late to add support to your personal community. New mom groups and ongoing parenting support groups can be extremely helpful in connecting you to women in your area who are looking for similar support. Whether you are a working or stay-at-home mother there is a group for you. It’s important to gain exposure to moms with different values around work and parenting as this can broaden your perspective and help you combine tools and tips from each philosophy. While it’s ideal to connect with a mother who has some experience in the game, don’t rule out moms whose children aren’t much older than your own. Different women have different parenting strengths and utilizing a peer who has her act together in an area that you aren’t as on top of can bolster her self-confidence as you take pointers from her. An added benefit to this approach is that finding more than one mom mentor to connect with will help ensure that you have a pool of resources to pull from. After all, most moms (especially the ones you’d like to emulate) have full schedules. If it becomes difficult to connect with your primary mentor, you may have better luck with multiple moms in your rolodex.
Finding a mom mentor is an extremely personal process. It’s important to find someone who understands your core values around parenting and is willing to use those values to keep you on track if you begin to stray. This means that you should also respect and trust this mom enough to be able to take constructive feedback from her as well as share some of your not-so-perfect parenting moments with her. Hopefully she too will be willing to share some of the things she's learned through trial and error. This can serve up a much-needed dose of comedy at times when you don’t feel like you are doing anything right as a parent-and you will feel that way! The good news is you are not looking for a perfect mom to become your mentor. Finding a mom whose style inspires you to be a better version of yourself as a parent is a great goal to aspire to.
Availability and consistency are 2 critical components to building a strong relationship with your mom mentor. The best mom in the world will be very little help to you if you are never able to catch her on the phone or in person. Parenting adds a layer of complication to most people’s schedules, so be prepared to be flexible and creative with how the two of you connect. Assess your weekly schedule to determine how much time you can afford to devote to fostering a meaningful connection with your mom mentor. This should truly be a few minutes to a few hours of uninterrupted time where you can both share and provide feedback without too many distractions. If you can’t achieve a weekly meeting or phone call then shoot for biweekly calls with an in-person meeting for coffee, at the park with the kids, or even at the grocery store once per month. You can shop and talk as you get the grocery shopping done together. Don’t allow convention to keep you from getting the accountability, inspiration and support you need. If you find yourself feeling less stressed out and more confident as a check-in call or meet up approaches, don’t cancel it-use that time to celebrate your successes or actually relax with your mentor. After all, you earned it. Sharing those positive experiences will help to refill your tank and prepare you for the journey that lies ahead-the day when it becomes your turn to pay it forward.