What Your Child Will Remember About You

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We stood hand in hand at the edge of the water, watching the waves in the distance. Above, a seagull cried out just before making a dive for a crab walking innocently through the rocks. On the horizon, a sailboat moved effortlessly through the water. As if on cue, we both let out a heavy sigh in unison.

Holding my hand just a little bit tighter, my baby boy broke the silence. “Baby sperm whales ride on the mommy sperm whales when they get tired and have to come up for air. Just like I ride on your back when I’m too tired to walk.”

With that, our eyes met. His, blue and full of sparkle, mine, greenish and weathered by time. “You’re right, sweet boy. Lots of animals care for their babies for a long time. Just like I care for you.”

Another sigh escaped him, and I could sense his unease. “Is something on your mind, sweet boy? Does something have you worried?”

He pulled me into the water to reach for a small piece of green sea glass barely visible through the seaweed surrounding it. With an infectious smile, he held it up high. “Sea glass! I found green sea glass!” I scooped him up and twirled him around, drawing him into a much-needed hug. That's when the tears began to roll.

It was a long day—a tired day. A long week, really. Bedtimes were ignored, eating schedules shifted, and downtime ceased to exist. Fun was the name of the game most of the time, but I knew in my heart that not enough routine and insufficient downtime would be too much for him to handle. I knew better, but I did it anyway. 

{ MORE: 5 Things to Expect When You Have Babies 10 Years Apart }

Later that night, as I watched him sleep, my own tears began to roll. My children are my everything, and I parent each one as an individual, trying my best to help each child thrive. But sometimes I fall short. Sometimes, exhaustion or sickness enables impatience to creep in. Sometimes, stress feels overwhelming, and I can’t find ways to reduce it. Sometimes, I doubt my choices and second guess my instincts. Sometimes I worry that I might have failed them in some way …

The pressure to be the perfect mom, combined with the stress of everyday life, can leave moms feeling anxious, lonely, and even depressed. It's important for moms to step back from the small obstacles and take a long look at the bigger picture instead.

Parents experience endless emotions throughout the day and generally struggle to find time to just sit down and relax. It's stressful work, this parenting gig, and moms are known to engage in negative self-talk when overwhelmed and exhausted. And although I certainly know better than to travel that road, even I fall victim to my own thoughts at times. All moms, even the parenting-expert ones, come down on themselves at times. All moms feel the pressure to be everything and do everything and smile all the way.

The pressure to be the perfect mom, combined with the stress of everyday life, can leave moms feeling anxious, lonely, and even depressed. It's important for moms to step back from the small obstacles and take a long look at the bigger picture instead. Free yourself from the guilt of the tired, cranky moments and allow yourself to revel in the dance party that brought a smile to your child's face. Your child won't remember the moments that you felt tired; your child will remember the moments that you laughed out loud, played as if no one was watching, and walked hand in hand in search of sea glass. 

{ MORE: First-Time Moms Are Getting Older }

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Let go of negative self-talk.

Give yourself a break today.

Find a mantra that soothes your soul.

And remember that you did your very best at any given moment.

What do you think?

What Your Child Will Remember About You

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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1 comment

  1. kelly says:

    that’s the thing to remember

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