Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Five Things That Have Made Me A Better Mother

You have heard it all before. Motherhood is hard. Motherhood is unpredictable. You may not ever really feel like you know what you’re doing. While all of these things are true there is a lot of joy, wisdom, and knowledge that come along with being a mother.
I have to admit however that I haven’t always found the joy, wisdom or knowledge I was hoping to have.  There have been many days that have been filled with frustration and doubt. There have been days that I have wanted bedtime to arrive sooner rather than later. There have been days that I have cried on the phone to my husband while he is at work. There have been days I yelled more than I would have liked. Those have not been my proudest moments as a mother.  I finally figured out that there were some things I needed to change.
Redefining the idea of the perfect day.
I needed to realize that the days are never going to be “magazine or Pinterest perfect”. The kids are not always going to have on clothes that match or are stain free for that matter. We are not going to be able to do the perfect craft once a week to hang on our fridge for all our relatives to see. We are not always going to eat perfectly prepared organic meals and that is okay. Sometimes the perfect day is going to be spent inside in our pajamas. We are going to eat pretzels and cookies and watch way too much television. We are going to throw caution to the wind and feel a sense of freedom.
Ignoring the noise.
I spent way too much time telling my kids to quiet down. “Stop screaming.” “Why are you guys so loud today? “ I got sick of hearing my own voice telling them to quiet down. I finally realized kids are loud. Everything they do is loud. Moving from the kitchen to the living room? Loud. Talking to each other while right next to one another? Loud. Talking to each other while in separate bathrooms? Ridiculously loud.  I finally embraced the volume level around here. 
Allowing them to feel proud even if it’s not perfect.
At the end of every day we tell our kids to clean up all the toys they were playing with before bed. Often times that means they have to clean up the equivalent of a small toy store that only sells super small pieces. I have specific bins for all the toys. For some reason I expected a six year old and a three year old to always put things away in the correct bins. I found myself saying “Okay good enough” and then reorganizing everything after they were in bed. Why? Why on earth did I feel the need to do that? I realized one day that they were trying really hard. I realized that they were in fact putting away all the toys and they were proud that the floor was no longer a mine field of Legos. Instead of “good enough” I started saying “great job boys” and they started trying even harder. Lesson learned.
Allowing them to make mistakes.
It’s so hard sometimes to not intervene in every little thing my kids are doing. When our six year old was learning to ride a two wheeler for the first time I was constantly saying “Oh watch out!” “Try leaning more to your left. YOUR OTHER LEFT!” He got off his bike one day and said he was giving up. After giving him the whole when you don’t succeed at something right away that doesn’t mean you give it up speech I realized I needed to back off a little. I didn’t bring up the bike for two weeks. Then one day we were all outside and he went into the garage on his own and got out his bike. I stood on the other side of our yard biting my tongue and allowed him to lean the wrong way and ride directly into our shed one too many times. After about twenty minutes he got the hang of it and the smile on his face was worth the bite marks on my tongue.
Slowing down.
Our days are so busy. Between rushing around from one place to the next I often find myself saying “I can’t wait for this day to be over.” One day my six year old chimed in with a “Me either!” Wait just one second. A six year old should never want the day to be over before it’s even begun. I realized my stress was rubbing off on them. My constant worry about rushing off to the next place or checking off the next thing on the list of things to get done was stressing out my kids. I decided to make a constant effort to try not to feel so rushed. The email sitting in my inbox can wait. I don’t have to make it to every single PTA meeting. Target will still be open tomorrow.  I decided to slow down. I decided the extra hour of us running around outside was going to trump the homemade lasagna I was going to make. I decided grilled cheese and apple slices were going to have to do. I decided to be here instead of at the next place and I’m so happy I did.

Don’t get me wrong our days can still be chaotic and full of stress. I don’t always know what the day is going to bring, but one thing I do know is that doing these things has made me a better mother. 


  1. Excellent post! Having reasonable / healthy expectations is a good thing :)

  2. The noise - it's incredible, isn't it? I told the girls to be quiet one particularly loud day. Marie's eyes narrowed and she said, "so you mean, don't have fun, right?" I realized I was noisy as a kid too. Hell, I'm probably noisy as a grownup.

    All this awareness you have, all this thought you give motherhood? It makes you a gem. And your kids have planted in them the makings of stellar parents, too.

    Not perfect. Stellar. And that's worlds better, anyway.

  3. You lost me with "ignoring the noise." Do you know there is a *direct* link between quieter children and smarter children? Clearly, the problem was that you were engaging in a form of insanity: doing exactly the same thing (telling them to quiet down), and expecting a different result beyond them temporarily shushing only to ramp it back up.

    Teaching children the difference between playfully loud and "the neighbors two blocks away have driven over to complain" is *important*. You see...taking note of how your vocal amplitude affects others is one of the earliest - and easiest - ways you can teach your precious little snowflakes that they are not in fact the center of the universe. And *everyone* REALLY needs to learn that.