I’m failing as a Mom, its feels obvious. I watch my children and see how they are ‘out of control’, needy, angry, misbehaved and on and on… I pick up on comments from the older generation, and even people around me without kids that point out their flaws or try and give me advice such as “You should…”. In those moments my stomach drops as I feel the growing weight of the burden I carry being added to my shoulders. Let’s be honest, I can identify the faults and weaknesses in my children…after all they are usually the things I dislike most about myself, but as soon as someone else says something,
I deny them…
Explain them away…
Walk away feeling like I wasn’t cut out for this and like someone else would be better suited to raise these kids…
I see the way my friends can keep their kids ‘in line’ out in public and feel terrible when mine act out and I don’t know what to do.
Why don’t I know what to do? Shouldn’t this be easy, and come naturally, or at least be easier, like it is for everyone else? Why can’t I do it?
And if I’m being honest here…I’m not the parent that worries every time they fall, every time they get dirty, and if my kids are messy it actually doesn’t bother me. If my kids are being loud, I let them. I sometimes let them watch too much TV, we don’t always eat perfectly balanced meals or do all the things that ‘other families’ seem to be doing. And, don’t tell anyone, but I make my kids play by themselves or let them be bored and I don’t have planned activities for them all day long…. sometimes because I’m busy….but other times because I need a moment to myself.
I regularly carry guilt for all these things and at any given moment in my day I feel exhausted trying to pretend that I’m a ‘perfect parent’!
And then on Mothers Day, after what has been an excruciatingly difficult 8 months, my 6-year-old who is normally very argumentative, and hard to parent. Came into my bedroom at 6:40 am…yes on his own, and super happy about being up before me…and proudly declared that he had
1) gotten up before me like he said he would (not sure if he willed himself awake or what, but he swore he would get up first and he did not disappoint!) and
2) informed me that I was to stay in bed.
He then left my room and went to get his 4-year-old sister from bed, then he took the lead in making me a 2-course breakfast in bed. I could hear him patiently giving his sister jobs in the kitchen and teaching her when she didn’t do it right. And I was brought two courses…a big bowl of cereal, and then 2 pieces of toast with peanut butter (I know so sweet!) … and with the second course the two of them sat down on my bed and he looked at me with an expression full of pride and pure love radiating from his face, and said
“Mom, I just wanted to do something special for you because I love you so much”
In that moment I realized:
It’s okay!!! My kids are awesome people. And I haven’t ruined them!
Parenting isn’t about being perfect. It isn’t about having kids who are perfectly clean and well behaved all the time, it isn’t about planning so many activities for them that you ‘deny yourself’, it isn’t about being like every other family around you. Because chances are, they are struggling with the same things.
And as I have thought about this I realized that my kids act out because they feel safe to make mistakes and to express how they are feeling…even when it isn’t pretty. They are learning how to play by themselves and keep themselves busy. They are learning to be creative, they can make friends and be independent, not absolutely needing me by their sides at all times. They are learning how to treat others (although this is still a work in progress…ask their friends 😊), and they are learning that its okay to be different, do things their own way, and most of all they are learning how to express their love and emotions.
They are okay! And I don’t have to be ‘perfect’.
I need to let go of my guilt, let go of the need to be perfect and move forward as best as I can. Our kids need us to be present, to love them, to allow them to make mistakes, to give them the experience their emotions in the full form and help them to deal with those emotions when they become too overwhelming, they need us to teach them to be proud of who they are and be confident in who God made them to be.
We don’t need to teach them to be perfect, we need to teach them to be themselves!!
Let’s teach them to fail and get back up and try again.
Let’s teach them to offer other people grace, forgiveness and mercy, and to offer those things to themselves.
Let’s teach them to love other people, to meet others where they are at, and not be hateful.
Let’s teach them to respectfully offer their opinions and accept the opinions of others and be able to ‘agree to disagree’ when necessary.
Let’s teach them to be confident in who they are and not rely on others to make them feel good.
Let’s teach them to be problem solvers, creative and hard working.
Let’s love them and cut ourselves some slack, because let’s face it…. Parenting is hard…. there is no such thing as perfection, and the family down the street may be doing it differently than you, but I can guarantee that they are feeling like they are doing it wrong too. Let’s support each other, embrace the imperfection and move forward confident and embracing our mistakes.