This year marks an important milestone in my life. It has now been 20 years since I’ve had the honor and the huge responsibility of being called “mom.”
As I reflect back on this long journey, I remember all the amazing, frustrating, joyous, heart-wrenching, bliss filled, tiring days, months, and years that have encompassed my role as a mom.
What I have learned along the sometimes bumpy, constantly changing road of motherhood? What would I like to share with you who are just beginning the journey AND those seasoned travelers like me? Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.
Don’t Stress Over the Little Things
My daughter went through a months-long phase of wearing nothing but footed pajamas. There was no way to convince her to put on one of her many adorable outfits. Instead of wasting time bribing, pleading, or threatening her change clothes, I chose to roll with it.
Know what? It didn’t mark the end of civilization! When people looked strangely at us at the grocery store, I would just ignore them because I knew the truth. I was not a lazy mom. I was choosing not to fight this small battle and was saving my time and energy for the important issues such as car seat safety and reasonable bedtimes.
In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t assert my control over her small show of independence. It was beneficial to her sweet soul.
Embrace your children’s weird ways and their zany antics while they are growing and learning. I now treasure the memory of my daughter’s little body covered neck to toe in smiling puppies. Soon after that, she decided she only wanted to wear dresses without pants or tights, in winter.;)
Your Children’s Successes and Failures Do Not Define You as a Mother
I’ve been the mom who is a frequent visitor to the principal’s office. I’ve been the mom of the so-called problem child, and the mom of a high school drop out. I’ve also been the mom of a Straight-A student, the mom of the teacher’s favorite, and the mom of the child who stands up for what is right when it is required.
What it has taken me years to learn is that my children’s attitudes and behavior are not a reflection of me.
As a mom, it is my duty to model the behavior I want my children to emulate and to teach them right from wrong. However, what they choose to do with the lessons I try to teach them is completely up to them. I can not make them do anything.
They have their own opinions and beliefs, their own hearts and minds. I do not own my children. The best I can do is guide them and ultimately support them in their successes and their failures.
But in our society, we are to quick to blame the parents-especially moms.
When someone is rude to us in a store, do we automatically think, “Wow, she must have had terrible parents.” I doubt it. When something goes wrong concerning a child, however, the parents are usually the first ones blamed.
Let’s rethink this mentality. The child may be having a bad day, or perhaps they are struggling with learning boundaries. Unfortunately, it’s true that some may have terrible examples in their homes or may be making wrong choices in spite of loving parents. We simply do not know.
What we do know is that when we judge others, nothing good comes of it. In fact, some of the people who could use help the most might be intimidated to ask in fear of judgement.,
Stop Judging Yourself
It is always easier to give grace to others than it is to yourself.
What would you say to a friend who was going through a hard time with their child or children?
Chances are you would sympathize or empathize with her. You would try to discover ways to help her feel supported or try to cheer her up. You would never say to her, “Yes, you are failure as a mom.”
Why, then, do we look in the mirror during hard times or even basically good days and think of ourselves as failures? Most moms love their children with every fiber of their being and want what is best for them.
But we are going to fail, over and over again. Sometimes we will disappoint our children in small ways. At times, we will really blow it!
Nonetheless, think back to your own childhood and what you remember about your mom. Most likely you remember all the times she was there for you and all of the fun things you experienced together. The memories of lost tempers, and forgotten promises are probably just background noise to the beautiful music of your childhood.
It will be the same way with your children.
Simply show them that they are loved and valued. Give them grace in their successes and their failures. Be sure to extend this same forgiveness to yourself.
Treasure this incredible journey of motherhood.