Confessions of a Mom: What I Learned About Anxiety and Feeling Unworthy

dealing with anxiety during motherhood
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“My kids would be better off with a different mom. Someone who doesn’t yell and has more patience with them. I’m not good enough for them.”

I look at that statement and feel sorry for the mother who felt that way then I remember it was me and not too long ago.

Despite seeing to have “it all together,” I don’t, and I know the mental pressure to be the best parent.

After I had my fourth child a year ago, I battled postpartum anxiety, which is like a second cousin to postpartum depression that only comes around for holidays.

It doesn’t get as much attention as postpartum depression, but it’s a battle millions of mothers face.

In the months following my daughter’s birth, I faced a multitude of emotions, from feeling overwhelmed, anxious, unworthy, and unloved.

My worries centered on my husband leaving me and a variety of constant issues, like losing a child.

I had trouble sleeping as my mind raced with all the terrible things that could happen to my kids or my family.

The feelings of being unworthy of my kids and not being enough isn’t a battle I’ve only faced one time.

It’s a constant feeling that peeks its head out when I’m down or stressed. Add in social media and Instagram perfect lives, and these feelings are a recipe for disaster.

Social Media Often Isn’t Your Friend

social media can make you feel unworthy
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Everyone loves social media, but it’s not a friend for those struggling with feelings of unworthiness.

Have you ever strolled through the Instagram feed of popular families and mothers? I still don’t understand how they keep their white rug AND couch stain free. I’m convinced their kids are mutants.

Their feeds are all the same hue of colors, depicting their children playing nicely in the garden or constructing a new art project.

Another picture is their child swinging while the mother leans against a tree reading. Are we in reality or some different world because their lives don’t look real?

At one time, those pictures and feeds beat me down. Why didn’t my homeschool activities look that cool? Why is my house always a mess? Their homes look as if you could lick their floors – don’t do that at my house.

So, I tried to recreate what I saw. I spent time creating adorable activities for the school that my kids never appreciated. How dare them!

I tried decorating my house, even though I hate decorating and spending money on it. I made from-scratch dinners with pictures!

I clearly had my life together, right?

Underneath all of the photos I took, I was still the same person that felt unworthy and like a terrible mom.

None of the things I did make me feel as if I was any better of a parent than the week before. I still wasn’t good enough, so what was the point in trying anymore.

Failed Expectations Led to These Feelings

failed expectations can lead to anxiety and feeling of unworthiness during motherhood
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While I faced these feelings before, having postpartum anxiety seemed to magnify them. I knew I needed to figure out a solution; I didn’t want to feel this way anymore.

As I did some soul searching, I realized that most of my feeling stemmed from failed expectations based on what I felt mothering should feel like. I thought I would have the patience of a saint. Yelling at my kids would never happen because I would be patient with them.

In reality, I yell way more than I like. I find myself overcome with irritation and short-tempered with my kids fail to listen to me.

I expected my kids to listen well when we homeschool each day. We would have a quiet reading time, and I would find adorable activities each week for our kids to enjoy. Field trips would happen biweekly, and all of my kids would be early readers.

In reality, some days we don’t start school until noon and my 6-year-old is just starting to read. He has apraxia issues, and I’ve had to adapt my expectations to meet his ability.

That didn’t stop me from blaming myself. Field trips are more like monthly because they’re expensive, and coming up with activities is too much work sometimes.

I planned to feed my kids with a mostly-organic diet with veggies and fresh fruit. We would avoid fast food, and I wanted to make sure I gave my kids the best head-start in life as possible.

In reality, I do feed my kids a decent diet, but we have fast food often. Those darn field trips mean fast food!

Having a child with sensory issues means that sometimes you have to adjust your food expectations. I had to let those go and feel my children the best I could.

You’re Not Alone

mother tips to fight anxiety
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These are just a few examples of the feelings I’ve had over the years. Feelings of unworthiness tend to come in waves with peaks of happiness and drops that hurt my heart.

A few times throughout the years have caused me to question if I can actually do this parenting gig for the next 17 years, but I know I love my kids enough to try each day.

I was surprised to find out how many of my friends feel the same way I do, even the ones who seemed to have it all together.

It’s not something that people like to discuss because it makes you feel vulnerable. Acting like you have confidence in yourself is much easier than being truthful.

Be honest about your feelings to your other friends, and you will be surprised at how many people express the same feelings.

Your friends might tell you things like:

  • “I don’t feel like I’m a good parent most of the time.”
  • “I can’t get this parenting thing right. Why am I such a failure?”
  • “My kids don’t listen to me. I have no idea what I’m doing anymore.”
  • “Why does my toddler cry all the time? Either something is wrong with her, or I’m just a bad parent.”

It’s time we talk to each other about these feelings and lift each other up. Motherhood is a journey and a tribe. When you encourage others, you’ll find yourself inspired as well.

Tips for Seeing What a Great Parent You Are

You are a great mother. Let me repeat myself; you are a great parent. It’s time to shake off some of those nasty feelings about yourself and work towards seeing and embracing who you are as a person and a parent.

When I battled back against my anxiety and worries, I tried a variety of things to see what worked the best. Here are a few tips to try.

Take Time for Yourself
You can’t give from an empty cup, and you’ll never be happy with your parenting if you don’t take time for yourself.

It’s very easy to make excuses and feel as if the time for yourself is selfish, but it’s not. Making time for yourself benefits your family, so make it a priority.

Spend One on One Time with Your Child
When I found myself unhappy with how I treated my children, I decided to make special time for each child.

The more bonded you are to your kids, the better you’ll parent them. Relationship means everything.

See It Through Your Child’s Eyes
On bad days, ask your child if they had a good day and what they loved the most. You might be surprised and seriously blessed by their answers.

While you might remember the scream fest to find shoes, your child remembered the silly songs you sang in the car and the ice cream you bought.

Instead of remembering your grumpiness in the morning, he might tell you that watching cartoons and cuddling on your lap was the best. Their uncensored, forgiving answers are all you need.

Surround Yourself With Support
I cannot express to you how invaluable a support system can be. That might be one or two friends you can talk to, or it could be your sisters.

Find people that you can talk to about your bad and good days, and they can talk to you as well. It will help you see the struggles we all have are very similar. You aren’t alone – ever.

Stop the Pressure

Above all, we – as a culture – need to stop the pressure we put on parents. Whether it’s the pressure to keep a sparkling clean home or work hard a successful career, we have to remember everyone has different priorities, lives, and goals.

The pressure to be the perfect mother isn’t creating positivity. Instead, it’s ripping mothers apart and driving away their sense of self-esteem and self-worthiness.

Let’s stop the pressure and focus on lifting each other.

dealing with anxiety during motherhood
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Written by Bethany Hayes

Bethany Hayes is a homeschooling mom of four wild and free kids. With that many kids, she has experienced nearly everything when it comes to raising young kids, and she loves to help other moms. Motherhood is a tribe, and she works to organize local groups to help moms. In her spare time, you can find her in her massive garden or crocheting.