If you ever feel discouraged that you are “that” mom you always said you’d never be, take heart and remember that you are doing more good than you think you are.I am that mom. You know, the one you used to look at before you had kids and say, “I will NEVER do that when I’m parent.” Yep, I used to think that, too.
Well, now I’m her.
I’m the mom whose child was so crazy at the restaurant that he broke a plate.
I’m the mom who carried her screaming toddler out of the grocery store, leaving behind a cart full of food that some poor worker would have to put away.
I’m the mom who let that same toddler eat goldfish crackers off the floor because, well, at least it was food this time.
I’m the mom who was in such a rush to get out of the house on time that she smashed the van’s side mirror as she reversed just a tad too quickly out of the garage.
I’m the mom who got a call from the school saying that she forgot to pick her child up on early-out Friday.
I’m the mom who lost it and sent her kids to their rooms until dinnertime because, after two hours of of nearly constant squabbling, she couldn’t bear to hear them argue for one more minute.
I’m the mom who hid in the pantry eating leftover Halloween candy because it had been that kind of afternoon.
I’m the mom who yelled…again.
I’m the mom who messed up for the millionth time…and counting.
But you know what? I’m also the mom who snuggled on the couch to read a book–just because the four-year-old asked with those puppy dog eyes.
I’m the mom who set aside her to-do list for twenty minutes to build a blanket fort in the living room.
I’m the mom who cooked dinner almost entirely one-handed because a teething baby just wanted to be held.
I’m the mom who baked muffins with a four-year-old sous chef and held her tongue when he accidentally flung flour all over the floor.
I’m the mom who compassionately bandaged a skinned knee that her six-year-old got when he did that “really cool trick” on his scooter that she had warned him was a bad idea.
I’m the mom who took the time to work through the four-year-old’s big feelings even though it meant giving up some of her own alone time.
I’m the mom who apologized for losing her temper again…and built a Lego robot to try to repair the relationship.
I’m the mom who has good moments and bad moments. Just like you.
It’s far too easy for us to berate ourselves for our failings as parents. We tell ourselves:
I’m not patient enough…
I’m not fun enough…
I’m not productive enough…
I’m not attentive enough…
We see all the ways that we’re falling short of the ideal in whatever parenting book we’ve been reading or the limited (and probably wholly inaccurate) view we have of the other moms around us.
We forget, too often, to give ourselves credit for all the things we are doing well–for all the moments when we got it right. The moments when we held our tongue, when we gave our children love, when we provided them with all the things they need for healthy, happy lives.
Recently, I have started repeating a little mantra of sorts to myself that helps me get through the rough moments of parenthood (which are many). I tell myself:
My children are still learning…and so am I.
I am not a perfect mother…and I’m learning to be okay with that. Motherhood isn’t something we are experts at from the moment we come home from the hospital. It takes practice…a lifetime of practice…day in and day out.
But you know what? My kids don’t need a perfect mother. In fact, it’s important for them to see how their mother handles her own imperfections. They can learn to apologize, to deal with big feelings, to control their actions, as they see me continually struggling to do the same.
And although I too often focus on my mistakes as a parent, I have come to realize that my kids are quick to let go of those hard moments and freely love me despite my weaknesses. Bless them and their forgiving hearts!
Today, allow yourself to be a work in progress. Accept that you are THAT mom who makes mistakes…but you are not defined by those mistakes.
Define yourself instead by all the moments of love and sacrifice…because you are also THAT …the mom who loves her children fiercely and shows it in countless small ways every day.
Give yourself credit for all the good you do, mama, because you do a lot.