The last few months of the school year always leave this mom feeling like a marathon runner who hits “the wall” between mile 21 or 23.I ’ve made it all the way through Spring Break, but still have a couple months to go until I see summer’s bright shining finish line.
When marathoners hit the wall, they often rely on a mantra to push them through to the finish line. A mantra is a positive slogan, motto or catchphrase that is repeated frequently for meditation, concentration, or encouragement.
[sharequote align="center"]Nothing is happening that hasn't happened to parents of every generation. My struggle is not unique.[/sharequote]
Positive mantras are used by elite athletes and are recommended by coaches and sports psychologists as a strategy to deal with pain, doubt, fear, frustration and fatigue. They know the game is not just on the field, but in the mind.
Just like an elite athlete needs their positive mantra to push through, every mom needs her momtra – a positive, repeated reel of self-talk that moves her forward when things get hard. This mental pick-me-up can shift the paradigm, shift the mindset and shift the pattern before the proverbial ship goes down.
So, what’s my momtra?
When motherhood becomes physically or mentally overwhelming, I repeat the phrase “common to mom.”
Repeating this phrase takes things down a notch and keeps me from spiraling down into woe-is-me, this-is-so-hard, why-is-this-happening-to-me motherhood. “Common to mom” is adapted from the Bible verse, 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.”
In other words, nothing is happening except what happens to people of every generation and culture. My struggle is not unique.
I just adapted “common to man” to “common to mom” and voila, I’m standing in solidarity with every mother who has ever experienced whatever is attempting to hijack the reality and truth of my situation. I get to avert the road to self-pity and negative thoughts and all of a sudden I don’t feel alone.
A huge temptation for moms (or at least this mom) is to believe we are the only ones having a hard time at this gig. Meanwhile everyone else is sailing through motherhood with flying colors – perfectly obedient children, birds chirping in the background and a Thanksgiving-worthy dinner on the table at 6 p.m. every night. And somehow we believe this manufactured truth.
“Common to mom” reminds me that I am in great company. That I’m not failing. That other moms have to clear these hurdles. And all of a sudden there is calm in my chaos.
This phrase also allows me to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other moms instead of facing-off in the ever-escalating mommy wars. Motherhood has so many shared experiences and it gives me a sense of peace to remember I’m among a legion, never in isolation.
I began repeating this momtra when my kids were very little. My husband and I had three kids in four years, which was so incredibly fun, but also so incredibly hard. But instead of being buried by a hard circumstance, I would stop and say, “Common to mom. This is part of everyone’s motherhood experience. Every mother has been pooped on, thrown up on or had a baby that would not stop crying. This is all common to mom.”
Sleep deprived? Common to mom.
Discovering spit-up/snot/cracker crumbs on your clothes after you’ve left the house? Common to mom.
Stretch marks? Common to mom.
Feeling overwhelmed? Common to mom.
Diaper explosions? Common to mom.
Picky eaters? Common to mom.
Feeling ill-equipped? Common to mom.
Coloring on the wall? Common to mom.
Potty training? Common to mom.
Ready for summer vacation in April? Common to mom.
Ready for school to start in July? Common to mom.
Rebellious teenagers? Common to mom.
Endless laundry? Common to mom.
Becoming an empty nester? Common to mom.
But when advertisements and social media bombard me with images of perfection, it can feel like perfection is common and I’m the only one missing the mark. When I grade myself against others I often end up on the losing side of the comparison and am left feeling less-than. My momtra reminds me that whatever I’m going through as a mother is common to every mom.
There is freedom, rest and comfort in knowing our foremothers and mothers-yet-to-be share a common – not always pretty – thread that weaves together the entire experience of motherhood. That’s why our favorite bloggers are the ones who are authentic about what really goes on in their lives. Their comment sections read like a collective, “Me, too! I thought I was the only one!”
“Common to mom” helps me reframe the situation. I go from “Why is this happening to me?” to, “This is a part of being a mom. I’m in good company with every generation of mothers.” I find peace and reassurance in knowing I’m not isolated, but a welcome member of the oldest sorority on earth – motherhood.
What is your momtra?
Julie Hildebrand is a wife of one and mother of three who writes about parenting, marriage and faith. Contact her at Julie@juliehildebrand.com.
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