Wednesday, March 21, 2018

HOW TO BE A GOOD MOM



Today when I picked my youngest up from her day care, she was looking out the window as I walked up the steps on the porch.  Her enormous smile and utter joy at seeing me nearly undid me.

I haven't felt like the greatest mom as of late.  I've been distracted by some things, been snappy and raising my voice far too often, been having too many take out nights, because I simply cannot get it together to make dinner.

I don't measure up to the ideal we mamas tend to compare ourselves with.  I don't make gourmet snacks.  Heck, it's all I can do to get dinner on the table most nights.  I don't have the perfect house, and you can bet that on any given day, there are three loads of laundry waiting to be folded and put away.   I don't play with my kids enough.  I don't know the best way to positively discipline my child or how best to handle the never-ending sibling fighting.  I don't want to spend every waking moment with my kids.  I don't always make them brush their teeth or care what they wear to school.  I don't have any of the answers and I certainly don't have it all together.

But mama, that smile told me everything I do.  I love that girl with my whole heart and to her I am the greatest person in the whole world.

Even when I got frustrated with her the other day when she refused with a capital R to get into her carseat.  Even when we are battling it out over the terrible twos (or forty-ones).  Even when she breaks my new chair.  Even when I feed her cheerios day after day for breakfast because we are in a rush.  Even when she makes me so mad that I see red.

To her, I am her stability and her safe place.  I am her comfort and her joy.  I am a good mom,  because I love her unconditionally, and she knows that and loves me back.

Mama, we beat ourselves up so much and feel like a failure way too often.  But that's on us, not them.

The ideal mom doesn't exist.

She is a conglomeration of many, many women we see and no one person can do all that she does and do it well.   Why in the world do we measure ourselves against a fictional being?  She's not real, and her ideal is completely unattainable.

Here's what I've started telling myself. That mom that makes homemade organic everything?  Maybe her house is a mess.  That mom with the gorgeously decorated and immaculate house?  Maybe she doesn't spend much face to face time with her kids.  That mom that is always taking her kids on adventures?  Maybe she goes through the drive-thru on her way home because she's too spent to make dinner.

I think that everyone just has to choose where they most want to spend their time and what they're most passionate about.  One is not more right than the other, but we just can't go around thinking that everyone else is perfect at it all.  That is a complete and total lie.

So mama, that little boy or girl doesn't care one iota where you grocery shop, if their room is Pinterest-worthy, or that you screw up sometimes and have to apologize. They don't care if your body bounced back after having a baby or if you are a size 4 or 24.  The dimples on your thighs don't mean anything to them, but they sure do notice the dimples on your cheeks when you smile at them.

We think we are failing them, and they think we hung the moon.  

There's quite a disparity there, don't you think?

I asked my 8 year old yesterday what makes her feel most loved, and I'm just going to go ahead and say that I think her answer is a pretty fail-proof list for your child to feel like you are a good mom:

  1. When you spend time with me, especially one-on-one.
  2. When you snuggle me in bed at night.
  3. When you read to me. 
Then I asked her if there was anything she'd want to change about my parenting.  She quietly said, "You yell a lot more than you used to."  Mic drop.   She's so right.  You know what makes me yell?  Unrealistic expectations of myself that then get transferred on to my kids.  I'm yelling because I feel like a failure and a fraud and them fighting or being late for school or making a mess while they build a fort in the living room feels like a confirmation to me and highlights the fact that I can't meet the expectations I place on myself of having perfect kids, perfect image, perfect home.

They don't want perfection, they just want more of us.  They want us to spend time with them and cheer them on in their first steps and comfort them in their first disappointments.  They want us to read a book and cuddle them a little longer.  They want to see joy on our faces when we see them first thing in the morning.

My guess is that you are probably doing all these things already, but just don't realize that what feels insignificant and simple impacts their world the most.  We are allowing our fear of getting it wrong to overshadow the amazing things we are doing right.

Mama, you are doing a good job.  You are loving with your whole heart and you are lighting up a little one's life.   You are doing your very best with what you have to raise them well.  You are giving your all.

Will you give yourself grace in all this?  Will you watch their face light up when they see you?  Will you notice that you are the one they come to when they've scraped a knee?  Will you recognize when they want to be picked up for the umpteenth time today it isn't to annoy you, it's because they feel best when they are close to you?  Will you let go of your unrealistic expectations of yourself?  Will you discover that you are the meaning of home to them?

Will you understand that the only viewpoint that matters in your worth and value as a mom is that of your child's?

What is the true measure of a mom?  The look of joy when they see you through the window. 

Today I felt like a good mom.  A really good mom.

5 comments:

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  2. Beautiful words from a beautiful mom! I love the truth you share about motherhood and parenthood and life all together that comes through your so well-written, honest words. You are even more a good mom, you are the best mom that your three wonderful children could have! Keep on writing, you are an inspiration to us all <3

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    1. Thank you so much, Rosi! Kind encouragements like this keep me going. Love you so much!

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  3. this is such a beautiful post, amy.... one i need to read over and over again.

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    1. Thank you so much! I think it's one that I need to read over and over again too. So hard to stay on the positive side sometimes. I'll keep reminding you if you keep reminding me. :)

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