As mothers, we have all experienced that moment. I know I have. When the second line popped up on the pregnancy test that I so desperately desired to see, I immediately began thinking about the future. I began thinking about what kind of mother I’d be.
I had dreams of being the perfect mother. The mother who ate only the best, natural food during pregnancy. The mother who only gained 25 pounds during pregnancy and lost all the baby weight immediately after the birth. The mother who’s baby slept through the night. The mother of the toddler who used impeccable manners, answering questions with “yes ma’am” and “yes sir”, and always saying please and thank you. The mother of the teenager who loved school so much that they would ask for extra homework.The mother who had it all together, cheerfully shuffling children from piano lessons, dance lessons, soccer practice, private tutors and youth group. The mother who gracefully had a healthy, delicious meal waiting on the table with patient children, for my husband to enjoy upon arriving home from work.
Although everyone’s idea of the perfect mother will vary, there is a time in motherhood where the innate desire to be perfect sets in. To be the best. To be sweet and caring. To never get angry. To live everyday as if the tasks day in and day out were joyous, never tedious and always fulfilling.
There comes a time when we catch ourselves doing the exact thing we said we would “never” do. To never formula feed, to never yell, never grow impatient, never go sit in the bathroom floor, alone to escape and eat a cookie with tears streaming down your face. These moments do happen. They catch us off guard, because our desire to be the best mother we can is sometimes stepped on by reality. The reality of the workload of motherhood and the reality that sometimes it isn’t glamorous.
We all want to be a wonderful mother. And that is spectacular! There comes a point in time where we need to learn to forgive ourselves for our own humanity. We need to be gentle on ourselves. We need to give ourselves grace, so we can teach grace and forgiveness to our children. Setting the bar high for your moral conduct is a noble thing. But don’t be afraid to admit when things aren’t going as perfectly planned out as you had hoped. It is not your fault. It is just how life is sometimes. Use those moments as teaching tools for your children and allow yourself the healing and peace to learn from it.
If you find yourself doing something “imperfect”, such as yelling at your child for the twentieth time to stop climbing the counter, excuse yourself from the situation. Find a quiet space in your home. Sit there in the peace and remind yourself that you are doing the best that you can. Give yourself some moments of love. Tell yourself that you are a wonderful mother and that these moments do not define you. After you have calmed yourself, loved yourself and praised yourself for all that you have done that is beautiful, find your child. Tell your child that you are sorry for losing your temper. Tell your child you love them and that they do not deserve to be talked to in that way. That sometimes Mommy makes mistakes, too. Ask your child how they are feeling. Validate their emotions.
As for other “imperfections”, such as motherhood not being how you thought it would be, this is something many mothers experience. It is easy to pick out what type of mother you will be before you have children. Try to wrap your mind around the fact that the work in motherhood, though sometimes boring and lackluster, is divine work. It is okay not to enjoy every minute of diaper changes and back talking adolescents. Adjust your expectations for the current season. Don’t make huge commitments or plans a year or years in advance. Allow your family to grow at the pace that it needs to. At the end of the day, being a mother is the most important job you will ever have. If it were easy, we probably wouldn’t be doing it right. Have grace with yourself, mama. It is okay to be human.