One of the things that I have struggled with the most over the last few years is my perception of myself as a mom. I always felt like a failure, like I wasn’t good enough. I yelled at my kids way more than I should have, got frustrated with them easily and didn’t get over it quickly, and just felt like I wasn’t doing anything right. I felt extremely inadequate in what is my most important job in this life.
I read books and articles trying to find some answers that would help. Nothing in and of itself held all the answers. One article I read said to focus on the positive, find some things that you are good at and remember them when you’re feeling down. I thought that sounded like a good idea so I tried it. I couldn’t think of anything. Whenever I came up with something that I might use the very next thought in my mind was all the ways that I hadn’t done that well in the past or ways that I could be improving on it. I really couldn’t find one thing to be proud of in myself as a mother.
I thought about it off and on and still never came up with anything. Then one day (months later) a friend came over to pick up her son who had been playing at my house. When she came in she said “Your house always smells so good.”
“That’s because you always come at dinner time.” I replied.
Then she told me that she had just recently told her husband that I made dinner every night and he didn’t believe it. I said something about how there are some nights that are harder than others and that was the end of it. After she left I realized that was it, I had discovered one thing that I could say that I did well. I make dinner for my family every night and we sit down at the table and eat together. Most of the time it is a homemade meal but of course there are the times that I pick up a $5 Hot-N-Ready from Little Caesars or we have frozen corn dogs. That’s okay with me because that is life getting in the way, not me failing at my responsibilities. That helped a little. I had a place to start from but I was still far from being confident in myself.
I remember sitting in a church lesson several months ago and a woman commented that God knows us perfectly and he knows our children perfectly and he still send our kids to us. I have thought of that often over the months and it has helped me have hope. God knows my weaknesses and my strengths, everything about me, and he still chose to send these boys to me. That must mean something.
Through a mixture of a few different resources I have realized lately that I am who I am. I am the mother that I am and my family is my family. I need to be okay with that and celebrate it. I do what is right for my family because it is what is right and works for us. Sure, I can get ideas and inspiration from other people and families but ultimately I do what works for me and my family at this time in my life. That might seem like such a simple thing but it made a huge difference for me.
The last week or so I have been reading “I Didn’t Plan to Be a Witch” by Linda Eyre. I have really enjoyed it and there are a lot good ideas but there is one part that has really changed my outlook on mothering. In the prologue she says “common, ordinary children have an incredible knack of driving an otherwise normal, fun-loving mother to the brink of insanity… there are moments when we put on our witch hat, stick a wart on our noses, and screech things like, “Don’t bother me!” “I can’t talk about that right now!” and, “That was a stupid thing to do!” ”
And all of the sudden I realize that I’m not the only one. All mothers get this way. It’s a part of being a mother. (If you don’t get this way please don’t tell me about it and ruin this epiphany for me.) I feel so much better about myself. Now that I know that being impatient and frustrated is normal, I can move on and try to figure out how to have it happen less often or work on my reactions when it does happen.
I still have so much to learn as a mother and so many improvements to make but I now longer feel inadequate or like a failure. For that I am grateful.