Goodness, I have high expectations sometimes. As in, expectations that aren’t always based in reality.
And the worst places these little demons raise their ugly heads? In my marriage and in this whole parenting thing.
I’m guessing you aren’t a stranger to these unrealistic invasions of thought, either.
You know the ones: the guilt that rises up when we don’t make homemade cupcakes that look like they should be on “Cake Boss” for our son’s preschool class. Or the blame we place on ourselves when our children stumble. Or the belief we should have a hot meal on the table every night at 5:30 p.m. with laundry folded and put-away (gasp) and the children clean and not at all cranky. And of course, we would be waiting for our husbands in the bedroom sporting our finest lingerie after we get everyone settled for the night.
Recently, I’ve been thinking we all, myself included, might need to relax a bit with this whole mothering thing. (Marriage, too, but we’ll talk about that on Thursday.)
Here’s why: it’s hard to keep going once you get on that fulfilling crazy-high expectations train.
I love talking to all of you and through our conversations, I’ve discovered we all have something in common: we stress ourselves out on a daily basis because we believe we must be Wonder Woman.
But Wonder Woman had supernatural powers to help her get the job done.
And, yes, technically, we do as well. There’s nothing with more supernatural strength than the Holy Spirit.
Yet at the same time, we have human limitations and when those human limitations are exceeded I suddenly become a not-very-nice person to be around.
Repeatedly, we see moments in the Bible when Jesus needed to prioritize his human needs. When He was tired, He retreated from the constant crowds and rested. He knew when He needed to stop and eat. Most importantly, He knew when He needed to retreat and spend some good one-on-one time with His father.
Self-care fills our cups and suddenly, we’re less likely to fall prey to the perfection convention going on all around us.
By all means, if cake decorating is your thing and it doesn’t stress you out (I have a friend with crazy talent in this department) then do it.
But if cake decorating isn’t your thing, then don’t look at people like my friend and try to do the same. Those are her gifts. You (and I) have different gifts. So instead of trying to kill myself making a cake that doesn’t scare birthday guests away, I now call Target and delegate the job to them.
On the other hand, I’m not suggesting we all become apathetic and revitalize the grunge years, either.
Like so many other cases, the sweet spot lies somewhere in the middle.
Because you know what matters more than being the “perfect mom”? Speaking to the hearts of our children.
Heart-level parenting means we apologize when we screw up (which is a daily occurrence around here). We don’t ignore feelings. We recognize that the whole sticks-and-stones adage isn’t true – words do hurt. In fact, they usually stay with us longer than physical wounds.
We teach them to have faith. To not lose hope. We show them there are far more important things in life than the matching Christmas tree barrette that coordinates perfectly with your daughter’s Christmas dress (I include this because I had a grand mal flip-out over this last year. Oh yes I did . . .)
So, sweet sisters, if at the end of the day you know your child would answer the question “Does my mother love me?” with an affirmative, then you’ve done quite well.
You can go have some chocolate and throw popcorn at Martha Stewart (in love, of course).