Tired, sweet, often confounded mama. You want to know how to be a good mother? The real secret is that there is no formula. There’s no recipe. There is no way to guarantee that your kids will love you all the time, be well behaved all the time, or even remember to pick up their LEGOs half the time.
There are things that matter. Actions and choices that will bring you closer to your children. Ways to keep the regrets at the remains of the day to a minimum. There is no way to be a perfect mother. There are many, many, many ways to be a good mother.
Here are a few suggestions to help you reclaim your own joy and confidence in this incredible journey of motherhood.
- Begin your day with prayer. Just 5 minutes (the First 5 app is perfect for this) can help you take a deep breath and begin the day in a good frame of mind. If your children are very early risers and you are not, this 5 minutes can make all the difference in wether you respond to spilt breakfast cereal with grace or with loud words you regret as soon as they are said.
- Be present. If you struggle with the pull of social media, letting the TV babysit to excess so you don’t have to deal, stay so “busy” you are always telling the kids to wait or “maybe later”, then you may need to clear out your schedule and examine your priorities against your choices. We all want what is best for our family. We want well-loved and well-living adults to come from these precocious, and sometimes trying, little sinners we love so much. But in seasons of exhaustion, of desperation, of emptiness, we allow other things to take our time. Our children notice. And they do whatever it takes to get the attention back on them. Put down the phone, turn off Facebook, let the Wild Kratts have an adventure without your kids along, and do something together. Read together, go grab a Starbucks and chat with your teen, go explore outside. Be all there with them and in the moment. The white space you choose to create in your schedule for them now is what will help them choose to give back time to you as they grow older. Two wonderful resources to help you: Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson and Hands Free Life by Rachel Stafford.
- Let things slide. You don’t have to have a Martha house, because this is a Mary world. (Luke 10:38-42) Things will be out of place. You might miss a spot of sticky. Just work toward having a warm home, full of security and love. (And perhaps a few well hidden emergency chocolate bars) Clear your schedule. If you feel overwhelmed, most likely those in your charge do, too. Not every opportunity needs to be had, not every sport needs to be played, and not everything needs to be a yes. You can and should say no sometimes. Being the cheerful matriarch of your family, learning to love what must be done, feeding the hearts and minds and bellies of your children are all tasks that require time. Be willing to give it. Getting rid of mommy-guilt is a necessity. Choose your battles wisely. This applies to working outside/from home mamas, stay at home mamas, homeschool mamas, and every other mama. We must not believe the lie that we should be able to do it all. When we try to do it all, nothing is done well. Choose what is important to you and live accordingly.
- Give yourself grace. If you are weary, there is a Healer who promises rest. He’s already fought the battle, you don’t need to try and fight it again on your own. You are a beloved creation of God. He shows you grace, mercy, and an unfailing love. All. The. Time. Give yourself grace and lean into Him. Turning around old habits is hard. We all fall short, know that you are not alone. I shared this picture on Instagram and was humbled by the outpouring I got both public and privately from women who share the same struggles. Your challenges are not too much for Him. And if God gives you grace, there is no reason or sense in denying it to yourself. Progress over perfection, friend.
- Give your children grace. We like to dwell on their happy parts. Their talents, their gifts of snuggles, daisies, and silliness. We forget they are just smaller sized sinners with hearts much like our own, until we are confronted with the rebellion of a three year old flat out saying no, a 5 year old throwing an epic tantrum in what is now your “used to be favorite restaurant”, or a teen telling you they hate you. These little ones throw the same fits we do, they are just more irksome for us because grace is a gift God showers us with that we have trouble sharing with our charges in times of stress and disobedience. My friend Mary at Homegrown Learners says children are Holy Sandpaper. I’d say she’s right. Motherhood is sanctifying. You are growing in as many or more ways than your children. Give them grace, even if it means creating a habit of silently counting to ten while breathing deep and dreaming of a white sandy beach with a warm breeze before you respond. I’ve had a little practice with this one. Harsh responses are much harder to clean up than spilt milk.
- Don’t try to fit someone else’s mold. You are a unique creation. You have gifts in a combination no one else has. Don’t try to be a schedule-following-Betty Crocker-Martha Stewart- Den Mom of the Year when your personality is suited to loose routines, 5 ingredient or less meals, Kiwi Crates for crafting, and a preference to “camping” at Holiday Inn. Your children were given to you because they need you in your best mom form, not you clothed in someone else’s ideals of a “good mom”. Embrace your strengths and accept and work on your weaknesses.
- Pray for a Titus 2 woman to come into your life. A godly older woman who has already tread the path you are on now is a gift. There is much wisdom, comfort, and hope to be gleaned from a lady with a life well lived. Having a confidant who prays for you is a dear glimpse of how our Father in Heaven cares for us more than we know. If this same person happens to relieve us of duty for a couple hours on occasion, that’s a gift of that light burden and rest we spoke of earlier. Accept help when it’s offered. Help is not a “four letter word”. If you are refreshed, your family will reap the benefits of a refueled mom and everyone wins!
It’s a journey, a marathon, a process by which we are further sanctified.
Each day I am learning how much trouble I can be, how much I forget to listen, and how precious these lives I’ve been given to steward are. My story speaks of God’s grace mountains high and oceans deep. I pray the same for each of you.
Sweet friend, you are a loving mother, you are a giving mother, you are a child of God mother. You are, through Him, the best mother for your children. And that is the only measure you ever need worry about.
Enjoy other Dear Mom letters at the Dear Mom iHomeschool Network link up!