Mama Mantra: Actually, I Can
By Sydney Dorr
Hello marvelous Mama! How are you feeling? Ready to take on the world? Or maybe your world feels heavy and you’re struggling under the pressure. Maybe you just want to crawl under a rock (anywhere quiet and dark). Either way, I’ve got a small-but-mighty mantra for you today:
Actually, I can.
When I saw this statement on a friend’s desk, it hit me right between the eyebrows and I stuck it on my kitchen wall for months. That was two years ago, but it stayed with me and has made its presence felt the last couple of months.
I am 16 weeks pregnant with our third baby (yay!). I’m delighted about the new babe, but being pregnant while running around after two kids is more…stretching…than I anticipated. “Actually, I can” has empowered me to do what actually needs to be done instead of being swayed by expectations or discouragement.
I thought that I would conk out by 9:00 pm during my first trimester, like I did in my first two pregnancies. Instead – probably because my toddler was inexplicably waking up at night – I was wide awake in the evenings and completely shot in the mornings. In order to get more sleep, I let the boys watch TV – usually about 2 hours – while I slept and then slowly stumbled around the kitchen making breakfast. Every morning I turned on Netflix and then slumped back into bed under the weight of comparison and failed expectations: my kids were having too much screen time, I wasn’t as good as all the other exhausted moms who got up early anyway, the stuff I needed to do that day didn’t have time for me to keep sleeping. And then “actually, I can” came to the rescue. “Actually, I can sleep in while my kids watch TV. I am growing a baby. My toddler-baby woke up eight literal times last night and I’ve been awake since 5:30. This season isn’t forever and I am going to sleep without shame and do my best when I wake up. So there.”
Now the toddler is sleeping better(ish) and my body is shifting out of 1st trimester exhaustion (slowly). I know I’m ready to change our morning routine, but the prospect has felt overwhelming. It’s a big shift to cut out over an hour of sleep and quiet kids and replace it with alarms and mutinous, TV-deprived darlings. After several weeks of survival mode, productive mode seems a little out of reach. But “actually, I can” has come to the rescue again. “Actually, I can get up earlier. I can stay calm when my kids whine, bereft of morning cartoons. I have perseverance and moxie and I’m a force to be reckoned with. So there.”
You don’t have to be Supermom, but you also don’t have to be stuck. You can let go of heavy expectations and guilt, but you can also grab hold of determination and courage. Take a deep breath and decide if right now is a letting go or a grabbing hold moment. And then go forth in confidence because you are a woman free of shame and full of moxie and actually, you can do whatever it is you need to do.