A few weeks ago was one of those days.
You know the ones. Where fear gets wrapped in a neat little package of guilt and negativity.
It was seasonably warm outside, I had a mountain of work to do. My little one had just woken up from her afternoon nap. Dinner time was creeping closer. I was on a deadline. I didn't have time for outside. I felt guilty, but she was nicely playing with her toys and watching a cartoon while I fiercely typed away at the computer keys. Until she wasn't anymore.
It's funny how preschoolers can go from occupied to not in a matter of seconds.
On that seasonably warm day in December, I really had no desire get us all dressed to play outside (I was busy! I was tired! I had work to do! Dinner to make! A house to clean!) but I knew getting some fresh air would help us both reset.
However, I also knew if we went outside she'd want to play "pretend," which as sad as it is this mom has such a tough time getting down with (anyone else?!).
As a proud "momtographer" who often uses a camera as comfort and self-care, I brought it outdoors with me to combat the fear of imaginative play and to distract myself from the work and deadlines I was leaving behind.
The camera would nourish me as she was nourished by bare feet and comfy clothes, collecting rocks, and digging her toes into the dirt.
Trading in a career to become a "work at home mom" in the last year hasn't been easy, and has brought forth many fears. They haven't been the expected fears either. The ones I anticipated would surface from leaving a set paycheck behind.
There have been much more complicated fears of being able to "cut it" as a mother too.
The perfectionist side of my personality wants to know that I'm doing this stay at home mom thing "right." But there always seems to be something making me feel like I'm doing it all wrong.
My logical brain knows there is no right or wrong. But I swear motherhood eats my heart alive some days.
From everything I read online leading me to believe that if I'm not interested in going outside and playing make believe, if I'm not excited about creating elaborate art projects, if I'm not concerned about feeding her organic everything, if I let her watch a little bit too much TV, or if don't getting pregnant again soon and produce sibling, that I must be doing it all wrong.
It's these thoughts trigger my fall down a rabbit hole of guilt. Especially on those days when I'm too tired to play hide and seek, or too busy cooking dinner to get out the art supplies, or too broke to buy organic ground beef, or too content with the quiet house to get pregnant again.
Whew, fear driven thoughts are exhausting -- right?!
I know a lot is out there trying to combat "the mommy wars" and our fear around motherhood, but I realized something the other day. The war oftentimes isn't between two moms...
...this is actually a war we're waging on ourselves.
We are tired, and scared, and lonely.
We are losing the essence of who we are each time we neglect our self care and instead size ourselves up against the mom next door who seems to have it all together.
We are weak when we're too afraid to admit that it's ok to be so exhausted that we let our kids watch another cartoon so we can re-energize by connecting with friends on Facebook for 20 minutes.
We are strong when we can recognize our fears, love them, and love ourselves in spite of them.
We are heroes when we take our kids outside to play when we're out our very worst most tired state of being and can find a way to tolerate 10 minutes of the pretend play we loathe so very much.
The good news is, being faced with my own mommy fears and insecurities has taught me so much more about myself as a person and as a mom.
I'm positive, patient, calm, quiet, introspective, creative, and loving. I feel at peace when we're snuggled up together reading books. Or when we're chatting together over hot chocolates at Starbucks. Or when we're singing the Frozen soundtrack at the top of our lungs.
It is likely that I'll never have an organized craft room, enjoy hours upon hours of imaginative play, have a desire to throw away all of my technology, or keep a completely organic GMO free kitchen.
It's important to remember that we're all a work in progress and that discovering our strengths through self-care can be the most powerful weapon against fear.
Pick up a camera, and it might help you connect with yourself and your kids simultaneously. Watch how it can instantly nourish your soul and turn an afternoon filled with the negative mommy self talk, stress, and guilt into one filled with laughter, confidence and pride.
The proof will reveal itself in the photos.
Especially when the image staring back at you displays the healthy, happy, and loving eyes of a little girl whose mommy just asked to her pretend magical green and blue fairies are sparkling inside the the lens of her mommies camera.