To the mom who hates Mother’s Day:
You sit in the pew at church on Mother’s Day and listen to someone’s daughter singing the praises of her mother who, like Mary Poppins, is practically perfect in every way. Your stomach starts to churn a little as you think about all the things you failed at as a mother this week. Starting with the fact that you were late for church, followed by the last minute, less than nutritious dinner you served up last night, then moving on to the piles of laundry that you just can’t seem to get put away, the missed piano lesson, the Pinterest-fail kid’s birthday party you threw for your 8 year-old, the times you lost it and yelled at your kids, and the many nights you went to bed and cried because you weren’t the mother you wanted to be that day.
I get it. Though Mother’s Day is intended to help us feel loved and appreciated as mothers, it instead can feel like a guilty reminder of how we aren’t measuring up to the Mother we feel we should be and that obviously every other mother is.
But, Lady, listen to me. Just the fact that you feel guilty and wish you were a better mom tells me that you are a mom who loves her kids, wants the very best for them, and is striving to be better everyday. Crappy moms really don’t care that they are crappy moms. Great moms care deeply about becoming the mother their children need them to be, and most likely this is who you are.
Sometimes in the chaos of motherhood we get so caught up in the everyday struggles that we have a hard time seeing the many ways we are winning as a mom. We tend to focus on our failings and refuse to acknowledge our successes. We assume everyone else is doing a better job at managing motherhood than we are. But, I guarantee you, if you were able to peek into their home at bed time, you would see the same battle and weary mother responses playing out as you experience at your house every night.
I grew up in the “Happy Taylor Home”– that is how my mom answered and still answers the phone to this day. She is a fantastic woman who is optimistic and positive and loving. And she was the mom that some other women in our neighborhood measured themselves against and left feeling inadequate. But, let me tell you a little secret. She had the same struggles as every other mother in our neighborhood. She didn’t always have a clean house and kids that were well-behaved. Sometimes she lost her temper. She wasn’t always consistent in her disciplining. And on more than one occasion when she answered the phone “Happy Taylor Home,” there were a couple of kids screaming at each other in the background.
But, she did a lot of things right, and one of her greatest strengths was her ability not to focus on her failings or the negatives in her life. When things didn’t go the way she wanted them to or when she fell short I remember her saying the phrase, “I believe in eternal progression.” She would also say this when she made an improvement in some area. It was her mantra and I often think about those words that have so much more meaning to me now that I am a mother.
She believed she was capable of changing and improving in endless ways for as long as she was willing to keep trying to be better. And because she believed that, she also believed that her children had that ability, and together as a family we had that ability. She had – and still has- this incredible forward thinking view of her world that consumes her thoughts leaving no room for looking back and wallowing in past mistakes or failures. This one quality alone made her a great mom.
So, I don’t care if your toddler spent the day in his pajamas yesterday and so did you. I don’t care if ramen and mac-n-cheese dominated your menu last week. I don’t care if your kids watched more than 2 hours of TV today or if you forgot to read with your 5 year-old. I don’t care if your kids are sporting swimsuits today because that is the only thing left that is clean or if you lost your temper when no one would clean up their room. If your kid’s basic needs are met, if you don’t abuse them, if they know you love them because you tell them and you show them, and if everyday you are working to improve on the things that really matter, then, lady, you are a good mom. So, let the failures fade into the past as you make improvements into the future and choose to be okay with the fact that as a mother you are a magnificent work in progress and so are those sweet little friends you are raising.
You only slow your progress and waste precious time when you compare yourself to any other mother out there. No one “moms” like you. And your kids need your unique qualities- that is why they were sent to you. They need you to show them how to work through struggles, how to apologize when you make a mistake, how to get back up and try again when you fail. They need to understand that life is a process of learning and growing and changing and becoming for you and for them. They need to feel loved and accepted by you more than they need anything else, and most mom’s are pretty good at that part.
So, this Mother’s Day, let go of the long, impossible, mother to-do/be list that makes you feel like you are a complete failure and focus instead on what you did today that made your kids feel loved or that made your kids laugh or feel joy. That is what they will remember most and benefit from the most. And really, these are the easiest things to do when we shift our focus from how impressive we look as a mom to others and instead focus on what we need to do to reach our children’s hearts. Happy Mother’s Day!