Parenting by definition is a noun. It’s defined as, “the activity of bringing up a child as a parent.” If that’s not a loaded sentence, then I don’t know what is. And is it really a noun? That just doesn’t seem right. I am by no means a grammarian, so I’ll trust the dictionary people know what they’re doing.
Let’s be honest… parenting is messy. Even in the best of homes, it’s hard. You’re not born knowing how to do it. Like anything new, you probably don’t feel like you’re good at it and you just have to keep practicing until you find a rhythm and balance to it. It’s more than just teaching them about right from wrong. You walk through heartbreak, rejection, and defeat with them, and it’s hard to watch. There are books you can read to help you or advice you can get – both solicited and not – and at the end of the day, each kid is different. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out the second child comes along and blows everything you thought you knew about it.
Just like any other mom, I’ve had those same struggles. I remember taking my three-year-old daughter to the doctor and was certain there was something wrong with her. She was extremely smart, stubborn, at times hyperactive and I just knew we were going to be looking at a diagnosis of ADHD in the future. No, it didn’t go anything like that. He instead diagnosed her with being a very spirited three-year-old and told me to stick to my guns. Ugh. I wasn’t looking for an ADHD diagnosis, but I did want someone to acknowledge that this was hard. Like really, really hard.
It just is what it is… parenting is messy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and it’s tested me beyond what I really thought I was capable of as a human. It’s made me question who I am, and if I was really cut out for this job. The truth about that? Yeah, I am. If you had told me how hard it was going to be before I had children, I still would have done it. The joy outweighs the hardship most definitely, but I never would have understood how much it would have caused me to grow as a person. I don’t think it’s possible to understand fully until you’re in the throws of it.
We’ve had some really messy parenting moments. I’ve not always known if I’ve done the right thing. In fact, I know I’ve done the wrong thing many times. I’ve learned to say sorry. I’ve also learned what it means to give and receive grace as a parent. We need to learn to do both well.
One of my biggest challenges as a parent has been guilt. It can be the worst feeling and throughout my 17 years as a mom, there’s plenty of reasons I have felt guilty. I could write an entire blog alone on each reason with great specifics, but I’ll save that for another day. Instead, I want to talk about the opposite. If you’re like me, and I suspect you are, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all of the things I could have done differently, and there’s a merit for that to help us learn from our mistakes. But how much time do you spend beating yourself up for how much you lack as a mom when you could be focusing on how good of a mom you are? I think sometimes we look for that validation from others because we struggle to give it to ourselves. Have you ever walked through a difficult season as a parent and a friend tells you how amazing you’re doing, and it just melts you? I have many times.
Sometimes we need those words so desperately because all we’ve done is mentally beat ourselves up for the things we think we have done wrong. What a gift it would be for us to see all the things we did right. Honestly, I’m not sure why that’s so hard. I guess maybe it’s just human nature to see the negative, but it’s not serving anyone well. You’re not bragging because you say, “I’m a good mom.” Instead, you’re being self-confident that God made you a mother to those children for a reason. He was so confident in your ability that He interwove your personalities from the very beginning of time. He saw no better person than you to be their mother, so of course, He knew that you were going to be the best fit!
And let me be clear on this; He didn’t choose you as their mother because He knew you’d be great at going to all of their baseball games or class parties. He knew you’d be the best because you’d be able to parent them through the hard things.
I don’t want to come across as preachy, because honestly, I have not mastered this so I’m talking to myself as much as I am anyone else, but I can tell you self-deprecation is not doing any favors for anyone. It’s time we start being confident in who we are as moms. Remember, our kids are watching. I know I will always come up short, but you better believe I want to show my kids that regardless of the setbacks life will naturally bring, I am over winning at this thing called life. As moms, we really run this place.
Nothing would get done without us. So why not be a little bit nicer to ourselves in the process?
Need ideas on how to do that? Ask away, I’m all ears on that topic.