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.
Oh. Thank. God. and THANK YOU for writing this. The birth of my second son has shaken me to the core for all the reasons you stated. I read this post with tears in my eyes. It took a long time for me to get to motherhood with some serious losses along the way. I had lots of extra time to work on that list of all the mothing things I would and would not do. When I found myself with a screaming terror of a 2.5 year old and a not so easy, not sleeping newborn and buckets of tears and stress I was in shock. Now that we’re 8 months into this new phase of our journey and the road is leveling a little bit, I’m working hard to have this perspective. That THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS PERFECT and the best gift I can give my boys is to be real, to say I’m sorry when I need to and to simply try my best.
Really like this article. As a mother of 6 children, mostly teenagers now. I am just getting to the point where I am realizing hey! it is what it is, no more no less. I am proud of my children even though they drive me up the wall but I am proud of the people they seem to be so far. Not sure where they are all going but I know that right now I am doing my best and that is all that I can do is my best and pray! LOL
Thank you! I love this post. One of my ah ha moments was when I realised (And Embraced!) the fact that “no, it’s not going to get easier- we just need to become stronger so the load seems easier to bear.”
It’s good to hear those words, it moved me. You’re right, there’s nothing wrong with being human. Motherhood is quite one of the hardest job in the world, but undeniably fulfilling. We just need to pull back sometimes and realize that despite the imperfections what’s best for our kids is always our priority no matter what.
Yep and you never imagine that there will be days that canned peaches and frozen broccoli will count as ‘fresh’ because you can’t bear the idea of going to the grocery store (AGAIN) with three small children. And that you will halucinate that seven straight days of rain are designed specifically to test whether you *actually* want to be a parent. Or that the words “hey mommy” would make you want to put an ice pick through your ear drum. Oh I am exaggerating… but just a little.
LMAO!!!! Catherine S you really cracked me up with this comment, although I hope you’re not being serious about the ice pick hahaha ouch!
Lovely article 🙂 as a new mummy it’s good to hear words of wisdom like these, it’s encouraging. Thank you.
I came across your blog post through the link on a friend’s FB page. As a woman in her late 30s who always “expected” she’d have children but is still childless, I found your post comforting in perhaps a different sense than most. So that someone will not misunderstand, I will explain up front that it’s not that I’m infertile . . . well, maybe I am (I don’t know, as I’ve never tried to get pregnant). But, for reasons I will not explain here, I have not been in a position where, morally and ethically, I felt I could have children. To see most women of my age, most of my friends in fact, with several children is often so hurtful for me because it just makes me feel so lonely. You see, I feel that they must have the “perfect” life. I don’t see all of the temper tantrums or the fights or the struggles at bedtime. Even when I see a fussy child at church, I think of how much “love” there must be between that little family at home. Therefore, I appreciated your blog today to find out that mothers of cute babies, toddlers, and even older children cry over their circumstances too – just as I do. Perhaps it’s not even that there’s no such thing as a perfect mother — perhaps it’s that there’s no such thing as a perfect life or a perfect woman, and that we must all learn to embrace the life and family (or lack thereof) that we have and find the best in each situation. Thanks again for your beautiful words.
How would I go about sharing my planned unassisted homebirth story?