Do you ever feel like you’re a “bad” mother, like you’ve failed your children in some way? The house isn’t clean enough. You forgot it was Billy’s snack day. Susie went to school with a hole in her tights and her pigtails are lopsided. My children are out of control, if I were a good mother they wouldn’t behave this way. And the list goes on…
We all have days when we feel inadequate as mothers. We compare ourselves to others such as June Cleaver, Claire Huxtable, the mother whose children sit like perfect angels in church, or the mother who always appears to be ready for anything. This mother carries with her extra clothes for every season, a full first aid kit, tissues, camera, umbrella, blankets, extra shoes, towels and enough snacks and bottled water to feed an army. What about the mother who is crafty and has (for each child )a scrapbook for each year. She is always doing crafty things with her kids. Or the mother who takes her children on a different field trip each weekend. The zoo, science museum, you name it they’ve been there or are planning to go within the next month. Better yet, the mother who is never late for a doctor appointment, church, dropping her child off at music lessons or picking them up from practice. Her calendar is perfectly colored coded and looks like a scientific chart of some kind.
Here is what you don’t know. June Cleaver (Barbara Billingsly) was divorced after only 6 years of marriage. Claire Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad) married three times, all of them ending in divorce. The mother whose children sit like angels in church had an awful morning, the kids were not cooperating at all. The only reason they are sitting still is because they were promised that if they didn’t, they would go home to take naps instead of going on the picnic that was planned for the afternoon. The mother who is always ready is actually a nervous wreck. She is so worried about what “might” happen, that she can’t relax and enjoy watching her kids on the playground or at their baseball game. The crafty mother is very talented, yet, she can’t make a home cooked meal to save her life. Her family eats microwave dinners every night, expect when they have cold cereal for dinner. The mother who takes her children everywhere has put their little bodies on overload. While trying to have fun with her kids, she has actually caused them to become exhausted from all the running. They have very little down time. Her children are tired and cranky. The mother who is never late, is very organized. I love her!! She always knows who is supposed to be where. What you don’t see is that she also has help. She has a few friends that she teams up with and they help each other with carting kids to and from events. Turns out, she is late on occasion too.
I am obviously exaggerating to an extent, but what we see in other mothers is not always reality. As a matter of fact, it usually is not reality. I have had people comment that I am a good mother. Ha! I think to myself, if only you knew about the time I lost my child on an elevator, that we missed our 6 month dental check ups and that I yell on a regular basis. No one sees you as the mother you see yourself to be. We are our own worst enemies. The mother you look up to and admire is very likely feeling the same way you are. None of us are “perfect mothers”, it is humanly impossible, but we can give it our all.
When you look at “perfect mommy” who makes everything from scratch, instead of thinking “I can’t do that”, you should try it. We are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit. If you see a mother who apparently has it all together or has a talent that you would love to learn, ask her about it. Don’t be afraid to ask another mother for advice or to teach you something new. Not only will they most likely be excited to help you, they will love that you asked them. There is probably something you are good at, that they would love to learn also. That doesn’t mean that you will ever be able to scrapbook the way they do or that they will be able to cook the way you do, or that you will become organized overnight. Everything takes time. While you may, over time, learn to do something well, it doesn’t mean that you will be an expert. And when it comes to things like discipline and routine, it’s great to take advice from others, but remember each child responds differently. What works for your friend may not work for you and what works for your firstborn, might not work for your second child.
Our children appreciate our efforts. Give yourself a break and quit comparing yourself to others. God has made you who you are and he gave you the child/children that you have, he knew you would be the best mother for them. Always know that your children’s failures and misbehaviors do not mean you have failed as a parent. As you are not perfect, your children will not be either. Accept it and get over it. We all have a sinful nature, even those precious little ones.
We tend to focus on the moments that are children make bad decisions or when we “mess up”. Try for one day, to pay attention and really soak up the good things your children do, and your accomplishments also. For me, it’s when my children stop and hold the door for someone, when they are kind and thoughtful to the underdog at school, when all the other kids leave and they stay to help cleanup. It can be as small as sharing a toy or doing a chore for a sibling. About a year ago, the “homework” for our family devotion was to intentionally show kindness to someone the next day and report back. Even now, a year later, Taylor remembers this and often comes to me and says “mom, I know what I did nice for someone today.” These are the moments to cherish, so what if they missed brushing their teeth before bed one night, they know what it is to be kind to others, and they learned it from you. These are the things your children will remember. They might also remember that they never had clean socks in their dresser, but this won’t really matter in the end.
Let’s encourage each other. While none of us want to believe anyone who tells us we are a good mother, it’s still nice to hear it once in awhile.