What to do About Soul-Sucking Mom Words


Soul-Sucking Mom Words

I set-out to write this blog post about my experience trying to cope with “mom brain.” About how I was completely unaware that my sometimes annoying, mostly cute pregnancy symptom known as “bump brain” would only get worse after turning that bump into a baby. My ability to function as an adult has all but been reduced to following a trail of breadcrumbs that I am constantly trying to remember to leave for myself.

But as I started to think about this side effect of having a baby, I realized that my mom brain is just one more item in a weighty list of nouns preceded by the word, “mom” that make me feel less than. You know the ones. Mom Brain. Mom Guilt. Mom Hair. Mom Clothes. And the worst one of all – Mom Tummy. Can we all just let out a collective, “uggghhh” at the mention of that one?

I’m as guilty as anyone of using these phrases. How often have I gotten dressed and whined to my husband, “I look like I’m wearing mom clothes” (to which he will frankly reply, “You look like a mom because you’re holding a baby.”)? But as I keep striving to adjust to motherhood and reclaim my sense of self, I think there’s got to a better way to communicate the challenges that all new moms face than repeating these self-deprecating expressions, dressed up as cutesy slogans.

Mommy Fuel Coffee Mug

More Words Like These, Please

Not all “Mom Words” are bad, in my opinion. The word is a designator after all, meant to categorize a group of people who all share in the same experience. My list of favorite Mom Words far exceeds the list of words that make me cringe. Mom Intuition, for example, makes me proud of the superpower spidey-sense I have for my baby. You better believe I have a Mom Mantra, and Mom Hack is great because damn, we are clever in a pinch. Even Mom Blog, like this one, makes me feel warm and fuzzy because it’s a community that reminds me that I’m not alone in this motherhood thing. Add Mom Wisdom to the mix and I think that gives a pretty cool list of reasons to feel proud to be a mom. Proud of how this journey has transformed me, while the first set of words do anything but…

Taking Back the Truth

So, what am I planning to do about these Mom Words that are impeding on an already stressful season of life? I’m going to stop hiding behind these catchphrases and start saying what I really feel when I begin to utter one of these sayings. For me, these terms all reveal the utterly disorienting changes I was unprepared to deal with after having a baby.

What I Really Meant to Say Was…

When I get tripped up at work, I can say to myself, “It’s okay, I’m still learning how this new brain of my works” rather than making a lame excuse about my “mom brain.” When I think, “I’m wearing mom clothes” what I really mean is I don’t feel like myself because my body is the same and yet totally different. And isn’t “mom guilt” really just a way to express how difficult and complicated it is to try to regain a sense of independence while balancing the responsibilities of taking care of a child?

That leaves Mom Tummy. Maybe if this was referred to as what it actually is – Diastasis Recti – more women would know that this dreaded post-baby pooch is a common medical condition, and there are therapy options for managing and treating it.

Saying what these phrases really mean takes away a lot of the pressure that comes with motherhood. We can stop beating ourselves up for having a brain that feels broken, for not instantly embracing a body that is different and feeling conflicted about how to balance it all. Being a parent is hard enough as it is without the added mental damage from the negativity of these oft-repeated phrases. Acknowledging these frustrations – these truths – makes me feel a little more empowered in my role as a mother and that is worth so much more than any tagline.

Can you relate? What are your favorite and least favorite Mom Words? Add them to the list – we’d love to hear.

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Karleen is proud to be a (rare) Denver-Metro native, currently living in Broomfield with her husband and spunky toddler girl. Karleen is the Digital Marketing Manager for Visit Boulder. In a previous life, Karleen was a professional ice skater performing everywhere from theme parks to cruise ships throughout North America and Europe. Unpacking her bags permanently in the Mile High City in 2012 has been a welcome change of pace, and motherhood is the most recent adventure she’s attempting to navigate one day at a time. Karleen is a graduate of the University of Denver, which remains her most favorite neighborhood in Denver. Aside from working and toddler wrangling, Karleen can be found snuggled in bed with a good book or taking the occasional lap around the rink at the nearby YMCA.


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