Updated: Sep 1, 2020
I used to think there was something wrong with me. I hated doing dishes and laundry, day in and day out. Dealing with whining kids who seemed to do nothing but fight and complain all the live long day.
I struggled connecting with my kids, and after what seemed like the 10th parenting book I read in an attempt to “get better at momming,” I came to truly believe that the key to my problems was the relationship I had with them. I had been taught my whole life that family relationships were the most important thing outside of my relationship with God. There was so much pressure to get it right.
But I had no idea how to create that relationship. I thought we were just born with it as mothers. That somehow I had failed, because I wasn’t connecting with my kids.
I stayed stuck and unmotivated and continued to dread waking up each day. I knew I loved my kids, but always found myself yelling and barking orders like a drill sergeant, wishing things were different but never truly knowing how to change them.
If only they would listen. If only I was different. Maybe I don’t love them like a mother should. If only things were easier. I just want them to get along. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to be a mom. I’m not very good at it. If only my kids would change. If only I could change.
Have you ever thought those things? Those seemly innocent, but truly poisonous thoughts? I used to daily.
I felt so much shame. I blamed myself and I blamed my kids for feeling so inadequate and frustrated and angry all the time. I would go to bed feeling depressed; like I had truly failed them. No mother ever feels this way. Well, no good mother anyway. God had made a mistake when he chose me to be their mom. Of this I was certain.
I was exhausted, both mentally and physically. I felt like a zombie going through the motions, finding ways to waste time through the day just to get to bedtime where I could sleep and not worry about the horrible job I was for sure doing.
One of my favorite things was to hash out motherhood insecurities or woes with other moms, so I didn’t feel so alone. Usually with ones who were a few years ahead of me in the game, that had “been there, done that.” Who had wisdom to share, advice to give, and could reassure me that every mom feels inadequate, “but it gets better.” With the usual, “your kids love you. You’ll be fine. You can only control so much. Just love them” in their repertoires.
I was stuck in a thought-loop that tarnished my role as mom, and severely degraded my relationship with myself. Satan truly had me in his grasp, and was taking over my thoughts, and I had let him walk right on in.
Does any of this sound familiar? Have you ever had these thoughts, or felt the shame of not being good enough, doing enough, or having enough? Have you blamed others for these feelings? I have. I definitely have.
But our thoughts don’t define us. They aren’t who we truly are. Did you know this? I’m coming to understand just how true this is.
Just because I think I’m unlovable, doesn’t make it so. I’m lovable just as I am; today, tomorrow, months and years from now. I’m of worth and have purpose just because I’m here. And when I project those thoughts to my kids, guess what? I feel love. They are lovable through their imperfection, just as I am through mine. They will make mistakes. Just as I do. They will fail, and fail again, and fail again, just like me.
I have carried them, and I bore them, and nurtured them, and snuggled them, and watched them grow, and I love them more than anyone else on this earth. That’s what qualifies me to be their mom. Love. Not because I’m good at it, not because I got an “A” in the metaphorical mother course that I used to think every other mom took to learn how to be so awesome at it. I love them. Period.
I spend lots of time redirecting my thoughts nowadays, away from those poisonous ones that kept me stuck for so long. I’ve become curious about these ideas and beliefs I’ve held onto for so long. Because guess what? Our thoughts create our feelings. Not those pesky circumstances we wish would just change so we can feel better. We make the change, as the saying goes. When we come from a place of curiosity instead of anger or self-loathing, we open our minds to the possibility that perhaps we are wrong about that. Maybe you’re doing it right. Maybe this is exactly where you’re supposed to be. How might this be true?
I’m willing to consider that I’m a good mom and I’m doing my best. Sometimes children fight. Sometimes children whine. Sometimes the kitchen gets left dirty, and we wear week old jeans. Sometimes I yell, because I’m human, having a human experience. I love them. And I love me. And we are all loveable and worthwhile and deserve to be heard. I have all the time in the world to connect with my kids, it doesn’t have to happen all at once. It’s ok the fail; failure is where the most growth happens. And, nothing has gone wrong here. Nice try brain. So much more love and compassion are born from these thoughts.
So I continue to show up each day. I continue to give myself grace, and them compassion. I continue to pour my heart out to my Heavenly Father for help and direction and understanding. And I move forward. Even when it’s hard, and even when I don’t want to.
Because I want to keep loving them, on my good days, but especially on my bad days.
I want them to know that I’m not perfect, that I make mistakes. I own them, and move on. So they know when they inevitably mess up, that nothing has gone wrong. That’s what is supposed to happen. They can own their mistakes, and move on. We continue to learn and grow together.
I still have days I don’t want to get out of bed. But now I also have days that I actually want to. I occasionally yell, because I’m human, and unlearning that will take time. But I’m working on it. And I’m willing for it to take as long as it needs to.
I still wonder sometimes if I’m messing them up completely, but it’s met with curiosity and kindness. I’m unlearning past “permanent marker” thoughts (as I’ve come to describe them, learned from my own masterful life-coach). And unfortunately, our brains don’t have a magic eraser! Darn it. This unlearning takes time, gentleness, and a lot of patience.
So let’s continue to choose love. And be patient as we unlearn our permanent marker thoughts. Let love, kindness and compassion win. It’s totally worth it.
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