Banish the should’ve, could’ve, would’ve, maybe, huhs of motherhood and get on with enjoying each day–perfect or not!
Not a week goes by without one of my friends sharing feelings of mommy guilt with me: She yelled at her kids and wasn’t happy with how she sounded or handled things, or she’s stretched thin, and feels like her kids get less of her than they want, or she doesn’t always play with her kids when they ask her too–she’s got other things to get done – the list goes on. I’ve felt those same things before myself. How about you? I’ve doubted myself, my abilities, and my fitness as a mom more times than I can count, and by nature, I am a pretty positive person.
And then a little over a year ago, I turned the big 4-0, and I did some thinking. I took stock of my life, my family, my friendships, and my accomplishments. I reaffirmed that not only was I incredibly blessed, but as it turns out, I was a pretty decent human being and a good mom to boot! In the grand scheme of things, I was pretty pleased with who I am, how I live my life, and how my husband and I are raising our two amazing girls. Are there still things I want to improve about myself and how I conduct myself in my role as mother and caretaker of two incredible gifts? Of course! But the difference is that I have agreed with myself to view my work as a mom as I try to view others – fairly, with an accent on the positive side of things. After all, parenthood is one of the most fulfilling and important jobs we have in this life, but also one of the most difficult.
There are no motherhood roadmaps, no keys to success, no “parenting for dummies” clif notes out there. It’s a life-long adventure full of trial and error and “just in time” training. No matter how organized you might be, you can’t be completely prepared for what lies around the bend. And yet as moms, we get this ridiculously crazy idea in our heads that we should be perfect at being moms the majority of the time. Say what?! How exactly does that compute? The truth is, it doesn’t! We are barraged with too much information, too many obligations, and too many “expert” opinions of the right way to raise our children. At the end of a rough day in the trenches at home, at work, or both, we are demoralized and left feeling “less than.”
So, I’ve decided to incorporate the Baseball Hall of Famers approach to my self evaluation: Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth hit the ball less than 40% of the time, and yet are considered some of the greatest ball players of all time. Maybe my goals – and yours – of “getting it right” as a mom should be set more realistically at 50% of the time, rather than an unobtainable 90 or 100% of the time?
How do we know if we are doing a good job as moms? I decided to put pen to paper and develop a list of what I felt were the most important things for my children to learn from me. I work better with a concrete list. You may have different measures of success for your family, but here are mine:
Beth’s Measures of Being a Successful Mommy
Do my kids know I love them, no matter what?
Are my children compassionate with others?
Do our girls know our expectation is for them to do their best at whatever they try, not that we expect perfection?
Have I asked for their forgiveness when I’ve messed up, and do my girls understand full forgiveness, and share it with others?
Do my girls know how blessed we are, and do they have a foundation of faith to guide them?
Do my kids enjoy life?
Do they share their ups and downs with me?
Do they view learning as an adventure?
Do my girls understand the value of hard work?
Right now, these are the things I feel my children need most from me to grow up healthy and happy. If I can answer “yes” to a majority of those questions on any given day, then I’ve scored a home run. If I get off track, then I need to make adjustments to be sure I’m hitting the mark. Oddly enough, reaching these “goals” often happens on its own when we, as a family, slow down.
Enjoy Each Day – Time Flies!
Lila will finish her first year of preschool the end of this month. It makes me weepy just thinking we’ve already reached that milestone with her. Time is passing too quickly. And Alyssa, well, she’s going to be 9, and headed to forth grade next year. I remember, like it was yesterday, bringing her home from the hospital and my being excited and scared about this adventure we call motherhood.
I also remember during one of her fussy newborn nights, frantically calling my friend, Lakshmi, who had just had her first son a few months earlier. I told her I was reading books, trying all sorts of things, and just couldn’t get Alyssa to stop crying. Lakshmi calmly said to me, “Beth, throw out the books. You know your child best. Go with your instinct.” I gulped hugely as I hung up that phone that night.
She had given me a most wonderful gift–self confidence as a mom. During difficult times, I’ve gone back to that conversation many times over the last 8+ years. Wonderful Lakshmi was right–I do know my kids best. And you know your kids best too.
Trust your instincts, create your own “Measures of being a Successful Mom” list, and know that you indeed are a great mom. Most importantly, enjoy each day knowing that you and your children are blessings to eachother! Happy Mother’s Day, friend!
Special thanks and love to my mom, who has been my sounding board, #1 fan, and best example of an exemplary mom!