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Dear Moms Everywhere, Please Put Down the Bats

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Dear Moms everywhere,

Stop. Please. For the love of all that is Holy, please put down the bats that you are constantly beating yourselves up with. Your kids don’t need you to bludgeon yourself—neither do your partners, your friends, your mothers or your bosses. Other mothers don’t need that either.

It’s simply wasted energy that we could put to much better use.

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You’re not “the worst mom in the world” just because you’re frustrated that your 3-year-old has an earache. Again. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your child when you’re happy he’s finally asleep for the night. The days can be wretchedly long; some of them demand more of us than we can possibly accomplish—physically, spiritually and emotionally.

No one is going to call Child Protective Services just because your toddler’s tantrum in the Target parking lot broke the sound barrier. No one expects you to lash yourself for hours because your kid melted down in the grocery store. No one thinks your children should be taken away from you because you missed a school event because, in juggling your home life and your work life, something had to give. It’s OK if sometimes it’s your role as “the perfect mother” who shows up for everything.

Nobody wins when you turn yourself into a punching bag.

It’s not true that you suck as a mom because your kid is having trouble making friends at school or will only eat food that’s white or likes to spend her free time pummeling her little brother. None of those are good occasions to pick up that bat and whale on yourself. It may feel like the perfect time, ThankYouVeryMuch, but it’s not. All it’s going to do is sap you of the energy you need to find solutions to situations that are scary, complicated, overwhelming.

I get it. You yelled at your kids and saw the flash of fear in their eyes. Of you. It feels like a mini-death to be the person who makes your kids recoil in fright. But beating yourself up as a way to make it better? It won’t work. I’ve tried it. After I beat myself up, I simply feel more strung out and have even less emotional reserves, which in turn leads me to yell some more.

That, my friends, is called a vicious cycle.

So, let’s put the bats down. When we fall short of our ideals, let’s reach past the weapons of self-flagellation to something more nourishing. Like a time-out for Mommy. Reassurance from a sympathetic mother who’s been there. A bath. Some serious slack. A full-fat snack. A heaping plate of self-forgiveness.

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Nobody wins when you turn yourself into a punching bag. Nobody needs you to punish yourself with harsh words, recriminations and condemnation.

Just put down the bat and see what happens. You can always pick it up again if self-love, self-forgiveness and gentleness don’t work.

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