I used to think that I had to do great things to be considered a good mom. Things like teaching my child phonics and reading before age 5, fixing 100% organic meals, spending hours playing with her and reading Goodnight Moon thrice before bedtime. And when I didn’t do these “bar-too-high” things, I pointed a guilty finger at myself. Half the time I’d walk around feeling bad about myself as a mom.
Sometimes it takes a life-changing event to see the things that really make a difference. My dad passed away this week and I am left reminiscing about the things he did for me and my siblings that made us feel loved. He didn’t have money or power or prestige. He didn’t buy us things–he barely had the money to feed his drug habit. Yet, I knew that he loved me. I would have preferred that he had spent more time with us and that we had a more normal home environment. Nevertheless, what he did leave me and my siblings is beyond anything money or even extended quality time could buy.
My father taught us to laugh. He was an avid Three Stooges fan and would often practice is slap sick on us kids. We feigned complaint but deep down, we knew it was his way of relating to us. Humor was his way of dealing with life and in the process, he taught us find joy and laughter any way we could. When we get together, it’s always a raucous, fun time because we tell jokes, pull pranks on one another and laugh, laugh, laugh.
The other thing my dad left us with is our faith. When he wasn’t laughing, he was reading his Bible and counseling us from God’s word. What a crazy combination; laughter and faith; Three Stooges and God’s word. Yet these are the tools he used to show his love. It was the only way he knew how.
My father’s life reminds me that we don’t have to be perfect as parents. Loving our kids doesn’t require money, a big house or extended vacations. Loving is in the way we do what we know how to do from our hearts. We all have something intrinsic to offer our children. For my dad it was humor and faith. For you it might be cloud watching or cooking or fixing motorcycles. Whatever it is, share it with your children. And when you are gone, they will know, like I know, how much they were loved.
When I became a mom, I was so afraid of making mistakes: Mismeasuring the cough medicine, using the wrong discipline technique, saying or doing something that would harm or cause permanent damage. These things made mothering a nerve-wracking job until I got tired of my anxiety and learned to chill. I want to share some of my conclusions. Hopefully, you’ll find a nugget here that will help you be more relaxed too.
You’ve made it so far. Before you became a mom, chances are you didn’t make mistakes that caused yourself permanent damage or harm. You fed and clothed yourself. You were in tune with your needs and did what you needed to do to live life. When you didn’t have what you needed, you sought out helpful resources. You will use the same characteristics —such as resourcefulness, common sense, and asking for help — when raising your own kids.
Most of the mishaps we worry about never happen. You’ve probably heard about the studies that show that 90% of what we worry about never happens. And the remaining 10% are things we can’t control anyway. So loosen up. Most of the mistakes we think we might make never happen.
Accept that you’re human. Okay, so let’s face it, we all have and will make mistakes. Even those moms who seem to have it all together make mistakes. And if they’re honest, they’ll tell you so themselves. Look, being a mother means on the job training. Sure, you can read books and many are helpful. But the truth is that the real learning happens between 6:00 p.m. colic and trying to find your place on the shifting sands of the teen years.
You’re not alone. For real time: we’re all afraid of something. There’s power against fear when we ban together. So make sure you’re hanging out with other moms at least once a week. When you bounce things off of other moms, and they do the same, it builds camaraderie and confidence.
You are not perfect. Breaking news: You will make mistakes because you are only human! Every mother, every person makes mistakes. But you learn from them. You do your best. And don’t condemn yourself or wallow in guilt. Instead, remember that you are a beautiful work in progress. You will continue to grow, learn, and be the mother your children need.
Have you ever been fearful of making mistakes as a mother? What other things can moms do to combat the fear of making mistakes with their children?
Here are a few encouraging resources you might find helpful:
A Confident Heart Devotional: 60 Days to Stop Doubting Yourself by Renee Swope