How this pandemic has me redefining what being a great mom means to me

I put so much pressure on myself to be a great mom. Many of my beliefs about being a “great” mom were formed well before I actually became a mother myself. Before I had any idea how all encompassing motherhood was. Before I ever experienced life as a stay-at-home mom. Before I had any idea what sleep deprivation actually felt like. Before I knew what my support system needed to look like and how my people would show up. Before I started a business. Before I was diagnosed with MS. Before my mother’s diagnosis. Before I went through a divorce. Before I became a solo parent. Before I had any idea what life as a mom was actually like. Before I ever parented a five year old. And definitely before COVID-19.

Motherhood has taught me to let go of many things — to not sweat the small stuff or the BIG stuff like I used to. For the most part, I now know I’m doing my best with what I have in the moment. Yet, there are still some beliefs and expectations I had about myself and motherhood that I have not let go of and this pandemic is shining a bright light on all of it for me. It’s time to let go of these expectations. Of societal pressures. Of judgement and guilt from other people who literally have no idea what this is like trying to continue living your life, to work, to take care of yourself, etc while also now caring for a child (or children) 24/7 with no outside help.

It has now been four weeks since Asher and I have been self-isolating. Over the last month, I have leaned heavily into motherhood and home life. It’s been a lot of ups and downs, but overall, Asher and I have been having so much fun together. At times, I have found myself feeling so lucky that I have been given a second chance at stay-at-home mom life, which I experienced with Asher from birth until he was two. I have felt like we have been thriving in so many ways. I have also felt like I’ve had no other choice but to give most of everything else up in order to keep Asher healthy and happy and me less stressed and sane. I’ve been proud of myself and the acceptance I have come to find in the completely uncharted territory.

However, the way I’m operating right now is not realistic. It is not sustainable. I’ve almost completely abandoned my job–the business that I’ve been building, my future, Asher’s future. I’m not closer to driving revenue; I’m not closer to getting a paycheck. Is that really what’s best for Asher’s health and happiness? For his mom to not be able to provide because she was worried he was watching too much TV during a pandemic? That’s honestly how I have been operating.

I am so thankful to have listened to Glennon Doyle yesterday talk about “no such thing as ‘TV time’ during a pandemic.” Yes, she might have been using TV as an example, but it was just the example I needed to hear. I can’t throw everything else in my life away and cater to every minute and need Asher has just so that I can be the “great” mom I had dreamt up before I became a mother and before a pandemic hit where I have found myself with zero childcare and without a partner to tag team with.

I love Glennon’s idea of starting your day strong and ending your day strong with your children. And in the middle, taking care of business — what I need to do and get done to truly be the best mom and caretaker for Asher during a pandemic. Time to rejoin reality and redefine what being a great mom means to me.

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Alex Winkelman
Alex founded Hello My Tribe not because she was an expert on motherhood, but because she was a mom who desperately needed support and community. During those tough first months of motherhood, Alex spent day after day reading and learning about motherhood. She learned: 1. She wasn’t alone in her feelings about motherhood. 2. Everything we could have ever dreamt of existed for the baby, but there was a lack of resources for the woman/mother 3. There are many maternal health issues in our country that need attention and need to be addressed. Hello My Tribe was built upon these needs. Previous to launching Hello My Tribe in 2016, Alex was a professional and volunteer fundraiser, raising millions of dollars for non-profit organizations. Alex lives in Austin, TX with her son and two rescue dogs.