Do you ever have that week that you spend comparing yourself, wishing for more, walking in jealousy? I catch myself in those moments periodically, but thankfully God knows just when to put a stop to it by bringing me back to his throne to realize how blessed I am!
Most of my struggles come from my desire to be the “perfect” mom. In my mind, I begin to think that in order to come to this perfection, I must have a husband that provides ALL of our financial needs. I begin to think that I must be a “stay-at-home-mom” or a 3-day a week mom or a 4-day a week mom or an 8-5-leave-my-work-at-work mom. I begin to think that I should want to keep my kids in bed with me each night and not send them to bed at 8PM because I should want to spend as much time with them as possible. I begin to think that I should prepare breakfast each morning and dinner each night and provide foods from all food groups. I begin to think that I should prepare a lesson for them each day and a craft to provide learning experiences. I begin to think that I need a bigger home (even though I can’t seem to take care of the one I have).
After I pour out my pity party to my husband, I usually realize that I am being an ungrateful brat when he tells me I should be happy for what I have! And, for those of you who know me, you know that I always claim to NOT be an “only child brat”. I have been given so much! I have been blessed with a husband that works hard, NEVER puts his work before his family and spends endless hours playing with his kids. I am blessed with a job that allows flexibility. I cherish my alone time every evening be it just me or with my husband. I am so thankful that my husband doesn’t expect a 5-course meal each evening. And for the at-home teaching, I think I should do, we have the most fabulous ladies that pray for our children, teach them and love them at Reidland Baptist Church‘s Early Learning Preschool Program, and I am certain they are much more skilled and patient than me.
As I think on this whole parenting thing, I think that we are making parenting too big of a job rather than a calling, a calling in which we are all called at different times and different ways to lead different paths.
I think that we have made parenting require too much effort. The expectation of mothering today is huge! We have to chauffeur our kids to every activity. Every spare moment must be spent reading to our kids and playing with our kids and talking with our kids. They must now consume every bit of our lives. If we don’t do these things, we are inadequate.
No wonder parenting is so hard! We do it largely in isolation. We expect our kids to excel at everything. And so they take up all our energy. We have no time to ourselves. And we expect ourselves to be perfect, because we know that if our kids are messed up it will be our fault.
What if that’s making parenting too big? Here are just a few thoughts I have:
- It’s okay that Nathan & I send our kids to bed at 8PM (even if it is still light outside). It is okay to want “Mommy Daddy time”. And that goes for when the kids are teens, too. It’s okay to say, “be in your room at 10. We want the house to ourselves.” Let’s face it, the kids will leave our homes one day, we must continue to build our marriage relationships.
- It’s okay to not have a “playroom”. It’s okay that our girls share a room. Kids do not need their own rooms. They do not need a ton of toys, and they do not need a ton of space. Think about it, most of us grew up in 3 bedroom homes with small closets and we survived!
- It’s okay to not make every Christmas wish come true. It’s okay that our kiddos just get a few things (still so much more than many kids in this world). It’s okay that our kids get gifts to share. It’s more important for us to spend time together and have fun. This past Christmas, as I really struggled with comparing our kids’ gifts to others, I began to think back on my childhood (which was a very good childhood). The only gifts I remember are a Cricket doll, a new black velour Christmas dress and a Nintendo 64. But, I do remember looking up to the sky every Christmas Eve as a child who still believed in the fantasy of Santa, to see my dad point to a star and tell me that it was Santa on his sleigh. I remember those evenings vividly.
- It’s okay that I don’t clean up dinner until after the kids go to bed because we are heading outside to play.
- It’s okay for me to have “Game Night” every month with my girlfriends, Bunco every other month, date nights with my husband and getaways without children. I don’t have to spend every free moment with my kids, and I will be a better mom if I have these times away from them to laugh, cry and be encouraged.
- It’s okay to not be perfect – the most important one. I have made mistakes. Big ones. And the kids know it already. Even today, as we were playing in a neighbor’s pool, I told Evylee to “calm her butt down!”. We don’t say “butt”, and I had just spoken that to my child, in front of other children and my best friend! So, I immediately fell to that mommy guilt. I will make so many more mistakes . . . that is what scares me most! But I’ve also done a lot of things right, and I will continue to do things right as I allow God to lead our family. And in the end, what the kids will remember is how much we love them, and how we try to live authentically and Godly, even if we don’t always succeed in getting everything right. Kids are far more forgiving towards us than we are towards ourselves.
Perhaps if we give ourselves more grace, and allow ourselves to still have adult time, and still have fun, and not break the bank parenting, we will have less to complain about and more to laugh about.
So, let’s thank God for the blessing of parenting. Parenting is wonderful; it’s only the expectations on parenting that have become ridiculous.