I wish I could think of a better title for this post, but I keep coming back to this one sentence, “Be the mom that you are”. I’ve been stewing on this post for awhile now. It’s a motto I try to live by and get a little better at each year.
Since becoming a Mom just 4 short years ago I became aware of myself in a whole new way. My weaknesses were highlighted, my strengths were compared (probably mostly by me) and I found a whole new way to be hard on myself. Some of the many thoughts I’ve had over the years are things like,
“I’m not the Mom with the spotless house. I REALLY need to be the Mom with the spotless house. So and so is SOOO much better at this than me”.
“I’m not as patient as other Mom’s. I’m the worst.”
“I’m not a structured enough Mom. Other Mom’s are so much better at structuring their time”.
This list of draining thoughts could go on for pages. It isn’t until recently that I’ve become more comfortable with the Mom that I am and I think this will be a continual work in progress (especially as my children reach new stages). So how do I get more comfortable in my Mom skin?
Well first I recognize my strengths. Sometimes we only see our weaknesses, but if you take a moment to focus on your strengths, you will see them. For me I think some of my strengths are,
I play with my children. I have an easy time doing imaginary play.
I’m flexible and can go with the flow.
I cook meals for my family at least 4 days of the week.
I read to my kids.
I take time for myself so I usually don’t feel too run ragged.
I pray about my kids and try hard to be a good Mom.
Now I used to solely focus on my weaknesses. Instead of noticing that I’m flexible (a good thing) I only payed attention to the fact that I’m not structured. Instead of noticing that I cook half the week, I only noticed the days that I had no meal plan whatsoever.
It’s great to be inspired by other Mom’s (I am ALL the time) but it’s a waste of all my time and energy to neglect one strength in pursuit of another. I might not have a spotless house. That doesn’t come naturally to me, so I have to work really hard to keep things decent. That’s about all the energy I’m willing to expend on that pursuit right now. At this point in my life to be the “spotless Mom” I would have to give up most if not all my time with my kids, be stressed out and get very little joy out of my days. At some point this might come easier to me, but right now it doesn’t. That’s also not to say that “spotless Moms” don’t spend time with their kids and are miserable. I know quite a few women that cleanliness comes very natural to and they don’t have to expend an exhorbitant amount of energy on maintaining balance in their home. They still have time with their kids and they are happy being the “spotless Mom” that they are. Neither Mom is better, as long as you’re both being true to your own strengths.
My strengths and weaknesses might change over time and I definitely believe in pursuing new strengths, but not at the sacrifice of my existing ones. If It’s too hard for me to balance a spotless house and time with my kids (both worthy pursuits) I’m gonna stick with the strength that comes naturally to me. Make sense?
The only area that I think this concept, “Be the Mom that you are” doesn’t apply is to things that come naturally to you, but are purely a weakness and bring about no good. For example yelling is a weakness of mine that brings about no greater good. There is no upside to me yelling. Although yelling comes naturally to me, I can’t just say, “well that’s who I am”. I don’t accept that. So I work REALLY hard at not yelling at my kids and I miserably fail on some days. Working on this weakness is worth my time and energy because it only has a downside to it.
I hope when we come across a great Mom we can feel inspired by her rather than feel doubt in ourselves. More importantly I hope you can feel confident in the Mom that you are. Maybe you’re the clean Mom, the working Mom, the silly Mom, the disciplined Mom, etc… You’re probably a mix of quite a few of these. Whatever kind of Mom you are, love her. You might be Super Mom today and Failed Mom the next. It’s ok. We’re all in it together.