The Momma Interviews is a new blog series by Catherine O'Brien, LMFT highlighting the thoughts, experiences and wisdom of a unique real-world mom each week, to normalize and validate the struggles and triumphs that are a part of the universally human experience of motherhood for women everywhere.
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THIS WEEK, AN ex-pat living in Australia SHARES WITH US HOW SHE CHECKS IN WITH HERSELF AND MAKES REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS FOR WHAT SHE CAN ACCOMPLISH EACH DAY. SHE IS ONLY INTERESTED IN DOING WHAT SHE FEELS IS BEST WHEN IT COMES TO HER SON AND UNDERSTANDS THAT OTHER MOMS ARE JUST DOING THE SAME!
MEET RACHEL BOWERS-- DON'T TRY TO PUT THIS MOMMA IN ANY TYPE OF "PARENTING BOX," SHE SIMPLY TRIES TO LEAD BY EXAMPLE.
HERE IS HER INTERVIEW:
How do you balance the mom, work, and relationship roles?
I still struggle with this but routines are key. I have to have dedicated times to various responsibilities or I will never take time for myself or be totally present with my husband or son because I will let other things distract me.
Most moms I speak to say there are moments when they are ready to throw in the towel. Can you describe a time you felt this way? What got you through it?
There are times when my 2 year old is so overcome with emotion that he can't seem to sort through and nothing helps him calm down.
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed, overstretched, or less than?
First I check myself for unfair expectations and judgments. I often find that my mind is making myself more overwhelmed that my life situation. I place high expectations on myself that are unfair so I try to alter those first and then write down 5 simple necessary tasks for the day. I choose to only focus on these and then allow myself to feel accomplished so I'm not left thinking of what didn't get done at the end of the day.
I've had parents tell me that one of the hardest things about being a parent is the comparisons and judgements from other parents. How do you personally cope with that?
I often remind myself that judgments from other parents usually has more to do with them than with me. When I challenge myself to find security in my own choices the judgment from others doesn't have an impact on me. I also refer to a quote from on of my favorite authors and social workers, Brene Brown, "Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting."
What is the great lesson you've learned as a mom?
When breastfeeding didn't work out for me and I fought so hard to make it work that it almost broke me I learned that sometimes what we think is best for our children really isn't. I learned that sometimes what is best for my son isn't about me or even sometimes my values. Sometimes parenting is about sacrificing what you want or feel is best to look at your child, how they truly are, and what they truly need regardless of what you think or believe.
What is your favorite quote that inspires you as a mom?
"Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting." ~Brene Brown
What is your favorite song that inspires you as a mom?
The Things We've Handed Down by Marc Cohn It reminds me of the power we have as parents to impact our child and all the things we have to give them.
What is the one piece of advice you'd like to give to other moms?
Don't ever put yourself in a parenting box. You may like certain parenting approaches or be passionate about certain decisions when it comes to parenting but try to have an open mind and realize that none of these decisions by themselves alone makes a good parent. When you aren't able to follow through with a plan or stay true to a parenting approach you believe in you won't feel as disappointed or ashamed if you stay open minded and remember there is so much more to you as a mom.
What do you feel is your greatest personal struggle with the experience of motherhood?
My struggles with anxiety take the largest toll of me. I am often very concerned about my son's safety and worry constantly about the things I can't control that may impact him. I have to work very hard on trusting in my son and myself and accepting the uncertainties of life.
How has your relationship with your partner changed? How has it stayed the same?
My husband and I can be more vulnerable with each other. Sometimes it is still a struggle to reach out to each other for help because we want to appear strong but we have learned that we are the most important team in our son's life and we have to be honest and open about our needs.
How has your relationship with your friends, family or support system changed? How has it stayed the same?
My bond with my parents and in-laws became much stronger. I no longer take them for granted and they have shown me what it truly means to be trustworthy, dependable, and supportive.
What is something that has surprised you about being a mom (i.e. something you didn't realize you'd enjoy, something you didn't know babies/kids did, something you didn't know could bring so much joy)?
I thought parenting was all about giving but when my son says "missed you mommy" and gives me a big hug I've learned we get so much in return.
How many children do you have? (Include the special make-up of your family steps, adopted, guardianships, halves- or no details at all- up to you!)
1 son , 2 years old
Share your relationship status.
Rachel Bowers is a mom, writer, therapist, and maternal mental health advocate. She is also the co-founder of Moms Mentoring Moms, a free online mentoring program for mothers. She blogs about emotional wellness for moms at Full Motherhood (www.fullmotherhood.com). She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and 2 year old son.
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