When I became a mother, I had no idea what I was doing and I used this blog to document my stupidity.
I asked questions, voiced concerns, and was genuinely thrilled when people offered their advice.
I was like a sponge — trying to learn as much as I could, trying to do the “right” thing all the time.
I was confident — confident I was clueless — but confident to try new things and figure stuff out.
But somewhere in the last year, I totally lost that.
My confidence as a mom was just…gone.
I cannot tell you exactly why, because I’m not sure, but I think I just started to realize how many “right” ways there were out there and it got to be overwhelming to me.
On Facebook, I have friends who post strong opinions about parenting.
Honestly, that doesn’t bother me.
I usually find it interesting.
But what I think started to happen is that when I would read conflicting articles, I started getting scared to voice an opinion at all.
I didn’t want to start an argument, or make people think that just because I chose differently, I thought they were wrong.
For instance, I think working mothers have incredibly hard jobs.
I think they are amazing.
Some of the closest people to me in my life are working mothers — and I planned on being one myself — so I certainly don’t think it’s bad.
But I started to feel like I couldn’t say anything about being a stay-at-home mother, in case someone felt like I meant that being a working mother was wrong.
And I would never want a working mother to feel that way about something I wrote or said.
But then it just started to affect me all over.
I just…stopped having an opinion.
I just listened to what other mother’s were saying or doing, and then I just started to think that’s what I should be doing or saying too.
That sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
But it was happening.
I agonized for MONTHS about whether to put Tom is school 3-days-a-week this year or 4-days-a-week.
I wanted him to do three, but all of his (and my) friends were doing four.
And I started to think, “He should do four. Four would be fine. He likes it.”
But I wanted him to do three!
(He is doing three, by the way, but I was so crazy close to switching him at the last minute. It was kind of nuts.)
If I had my confidence, I know I just would’ve gone with 3-days and moved on.
I agonized. Talked about it. Asked opinions. Said, “Maybe…” when our friends asked.
Apparently I had gotten to a point in my thinking that by me having a different opinion, or having made a different choice, automatically meant I was hurting someone’s feelings.
I was scared to say anything about anything!
Not only on my blog, but in life.
I felt like I took “go with the flow” to a whole new level.
And what was worse?
I wasn’t just laid back going with the flow.
I was worried and stressed about it.
I started going to playdates just so I wouldn’t hurt people’s feelings by not going.
Even if that meant I didn’t get planned errands done so I’d have to find a less convenient time to do it.
It started off innocently, and then pretty soon — my whole week was taken up with things I felt I “had to” do — when I really didn’t.
But I didn’t know that.
In my little world, it really felt like I “had to” do all these things.
And then one day I called my sister crying.
I couldn’t keep up with everything. I felt like I was letting everyone down. I was stressed all the time. I didn’t think I was doing a great job as a mom because I was tired and cranky. I couldn’t please everyone. I just felt…defeated.
And I said to Rachel, “I feel like I’m not making any choices without everyone’s opinions weighing on me. I just feel like…I’m not confident anymore.”
And she said, “You’re not.”
I think hearing someone like my sister confirm what I was thinking — actually putting a label on what was making me feel out of control — changed everything for me.
And it was like a light bulb went off.
I wasn’t confident.
And I didn’t like it.
I really don’t know why just telling my sister, and her agreeing with me, changed my whole outlook — but it did.
It changed in that very minute really.
I’ve started to say “no” more.
And that has helped a lot.
I can feel my opinions now — not losing them in others.
And here’s the other thing — she said if people didn’t like me, so what.
Okay, this was a hard one for me.
I am a people pleaser. I want people to like me.
And not that I would ever go out of my way to hurt people, or not care if I hurt them — but — if they don’t like me because I say “no” to a playdate, then they just…don’t.
(And for the record, I don’t know that this would even happen with anyone I hang out with. I’ve just been scared of the possibility I guess. Nerd!)
I really want to reiterate — it was nothing that anyone was doing *to* me — it was the way I was handling things, or the way I was feeling about them.
I just wasn’t really being honest with myself — or others — about what I could or couldn’t do.
And I wasn’t confident enough in my opinions to handle all of the opinions that are out there about everything parenting.
And I really think it all went back to me not being confident in myself.
But now it’s back.
Hello, confidence, it’s nice to see you again.
I’ve missed you.