I am a mom. I am exhausted. I am drained. I am worn out. I am terrified of not being good enough. I am at my wits end. I am giving it everything I have. I am doing my best. I am lost.
I have two toddler girls. They are sweet and they are loving. They are smart as can be. They have huge smiles that shatter the foulest of moods. They are playful and they are fun. But they are toddlers. They are also strong-willed and (they think) independent. They throw temper tantrums and scream when they don’t get what they want, when they want it. They misbehave and ignore directions. They have short attention spans and they can’t focus on anything for very long. They are toddlers.
I am tired of reading books, articles, or blogs about parenting that tell me what I should or shouldn’t be doing. But for some reason, I still run back to them when I’m in a parenting crunch. All of these well meaning authors and writers are breaking down my perception of myself as a mom and as a person in general. I want to give my children the best life possible and I want to be the best mom that I can be. But when it comes to the “experts” or just well meaning, advice giving people, all I get out of it is a realization of all the ways I am ruining my children’s lives.
Every child is unique, as is every mom. So, thank you for your well meaning advice, but quite frankly I just can’t take it anymore. Comparison is the thief of joy; and the more I compare myself with other moms and what they are or aren’t doing, I am robbing myself and my children of joy in our relationship.
Parenting is hard; it’s just plain hard. The hours are long. The pay is bad. It often smells like poop. You get peed and puked on. You don’t get holidays off or sick days. Like I said, it’s hard. And now, with all the “experts” who apparently know everything there is to know about how to raise the perfect child, it’s only getting harder. Because we’re living in a world of comparisons. We live a culture that says you as mom should be doing it all.
I often catch slack about being “just a stay at home mom.” I’ve often wondered, if I went back to work, would it be easier? If I put my kids in daycare and let someone else do the raising for me, at least then I could blame someone else when my children misbehave. No, it wouldn’t be easier because it’s still my responsibility to raise my children and to teach them to love the Lord. It gets difficult, when I am the primary person responsible for my children’s upbringing and the only person I have to blame is myself. I think things like: if I had done this differently or done that sooner and if I taught them better or was more patient, then things would be better. Most of the time, I just want to know what I am doing wrong.
The number one thing I am doing wrong is comparing myself to all these other moms who I perceive as perfect. It looks to me, as an outsider looking in, that they have it all figured out and that they have perfect kids. But here’s the kicker…I don’t know what their inside lives are like, I only know what I see. All parents struggle. We all feel like sometimes we’re not good enough and that everyone but us has it figured out. But the truth is, none of us have it figured out. Any parent who says they have it all figured out and that they have perfect kids and would never do anything differntly is lying. It’s as simple as that; they are too afraid to be real.
It amazes me how easily two, two foot tall and 30 pound toddlers can bring me to the brink of a meltdown. These tiny little people who simply love me and want to be with me bring out the worst in me. I feel horrible when I lose my temper with them. They don’t deserve it and generally don’t understand. They are just toddlers who are trying to make sense of this big scary world we live in.
Our children all have one things in common, no matter how different their attitudes and personalities are…they are all little sinners and our job is to point them towards love, grace, and mercy. I don’t know about you, but I quite frequently fail at it. I give it everything I have and I try to be the best parent I can be. But when I’m exhausted from staying up half the night before with a sick kid or a kid who simply just didn’t want to sleep, it’s hard to be a gracious and merciful parent. It’s hard to be all that I should be when I’m all out of fight and I have no energy left and they won’t listen and I don’t know what to do.
In the end, I’m just thankful that I serve a God who gives me what I need to get through minute by minute. He gives me the strength when I don’t think I can handle another fight and when I just want to throw in the towel and give up. Parenting is insane. We choose to become parents knowing full well that we will lose sleep and sanity. And we continue to have more and more children, just adding to the chaos. Parenting is the most irrational thing that we do as humans…but we still continue to do it. Why? Because that’s what we’re called to do. Because, like God, we want someone to share our love with.
For me, the best moments are when we are sitting on the couch together just snuggling and reading a book. It’s a reminder that things will be okay and that there is still hope. It’s a reminder that I have not totally ruined my children’s lives and messed them up permanently. It’s a reminder that, that is all God wants from me, for me to curl up in His lap and read His book.
Next time you think you’re not a good enough parent, ask yourself why you think that? Is it because you think no one else struggles like you? Because you’re not doing what everyone else is doing? Because your house isn’t spotless and you don’t cook perfect meals three times a day? Stop comparing yourself to other moms. The simple fact that you worry about not being a good enough mom, means you’re a great mom. Stop letting comparison steal your joy. Let’s enjoy the moments we have with our children, good and bad (they’ll be gone soon), quit comparing ourselves to other moms, and support each other through it all. Remember, when you feel like you’re at your breaking point, that this is only a season, and like everything else, this too shall pass.
It’s too much pressure trying to live up to all the “advice” from the “experts” and our culture and I for one, can’t take it anymore.
I know for me, this song pretty much sums up my life on most days. But at the end of the day, when I don’t have the stength to go on, He lifts me and keeps me going. Thank God for redemption.