To the Mum Who Thought She’d Be Better at Mothering
By: Jennie Scott
When I was a little girl, all I wanted to be was a mother. Sure, I played around with being a marine biologist (who knew you had to be good at science?!), and I would teach school to my dolls and stuffed animals.
I dreamed of being an ice skater when the winter Olympics were on, and I toyed with the idea of being a journalist. I considered different careers, but in my heart, I knew my greatest desire was to be a mum.
And now I am.
I’m the mum of two incredible human beings, and God has given me the desire of my heart.
But man, is it ever hard.
Before I gave birth, I knew exactly what kind of mum I would be. I’d be patient all the time, my house would always be tidy, and I’d be a phenomenal cook. But according to these standards, I’m actually a colossal failure. I lose my patience daily, my house looks like a tornado blew through, and my cooking would make Rachael Ray grimace.
I am not the mum I thought I’d be, and I’m willing to bet you’re not, either.
I heard from a friend recently who said, “I always wanted kids and never knew how hard it would be. I feel such guilt every day.”
The difficulty of being a mum – a good mum – is that we always have a picture in our heads of how it’s supposed to be, and when reality doesn’t line up with that picture, we believe we’ve failed. We set the standard for ourselves, and it’s impossible to meet. We believe we’re supposed to enjoy playing Polly Pockets for two hours, cleaning up the thousands of tiny pieces from that mess, and whipping up a gourmet meal in a Joanna Gaines kitchen we remodelled ourselves. We think we’re supposed to have heart-to-heart talks with our children every night, memorise Scripture we recite in unison every morning, and participate in craft-time after making pancake breakfasts on the weekends.
We are not the mothers we thought we would be, and we want to be the mothers we aren’t. How often do you look at your friends and wish for the mothering skills they have? How many times have you watched another mother and wished you were more like her? How many nights have you tossed in bed bothered by your mothering that day?
Can we all agree to do one thing today? Let’s take a deep breath and regroup. Let’s quit the comparing and stop the condemnation and remember what’s most important.
We love our children, would fight to the death for them, and are doing the best we can.
Can we be better mums? Absolutely. But will we ever be what we picture in our minds? Unlikely. And that’s ok.
I love the Nester’s saying about homes, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful,” and I believe the same is true of our mothering. We don’t have to be flawless to be what our children need.
Our children don’t need spotless homes decorated to Pinterest standards. They don’t need our undivided attention while they’re creating Lego cities. They don’t even need homegrown, organic produce to fill their dinner plates every night.
They need security. They need our belief in them. They need accountability. They need love.
And we need to give ourselves a break.
Our culture wants us to believe we can be masters of everything. It tells us we can run our own businesses, be fashionable and fit, be involved in ministry and service, and never miss a beat as wives and mothers. It tells us lies, friends. It tells us lies. We cannot be masters of everything, nor should we try to be. In different seasons, we can master these different tasks, but we cannot master them all at once. There is no such thing as perfect balance; something will always fall short.
I wrote in my e-book Buried that we have to learn to say no to some things so we can say yes to the best things. We were neither made nor meant to do it all, and I believe this to be especially true in the most intense years of mothering. We have to keep the main thing the main thing, and that is to love our children.
Sometimes we get the idea that invisible mum-spies are watching our every move, keeping a tally of all the mistakes we make and creating a file to give our children one day. We just know all our missteps and wrong moves will come back to haunt us and our children will be irreparably damaged, citing our store-bought cupcakes and chicken nugget-dinners as proof that they had damaging and deprived childhoods.
Y’all. We’ve got to get a grip.
Our kids adore us. (Most of the time.) They know we’re on their side, and we’re probably the first people they’ll call if they’re ever in jail. Our messy houses and moments of insanity don’t negate our love in their eyes, and our take-out meals and pleas for quiet are definitely not ruining them.
Here’s my self-imposed task for this week: Love my children.
Sure, I’ll fix some meals, and I (reluctantly) scrubbed their toilets yesterday. I’ll keep chauffeuring them to school and practice, and I’ll sign the thousands of papers they bring home from school. If they play their luck right, I might even help them with their school projects. But none of that matters as much as being present and being their constant source of affection and acceptance.
When that nagging voice of condemnation whispers in my ear, I will not-so-politely tell her to shut her stupid mouth.
When that temptation to compare wells up inside my heart, I will shut it down with a new ferocity.
When I hear the lie, “You’ll never be enough,” I will call it what it is and send it straight back to the devil from whom it came.
This week, I’m getting a grip. I’m not falling prey to the lies we mums believe. I’m loving my kids, keeping them fed, and keeping them clad in fairly clean clothes. And you know what? I’ll call it success.
Article supplied with thanks to Jennie Scott.
About the Author: Jennie is married with two children who shares lessons from her own unexpected journeys and encouragement you might need for yours.