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).
“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. ” That sweet sentence was the icing on the cake (no pun intended!) for this post. Thank you because I really needed to hear that this morning! xoxo
I think we ALL need to hear it, Lisa. And often. When they know without a doubt that we love them and love us for it, imperfections and all, we raise up children who are secure and rooted in His love. That’s what matters most.
I sat here nodding my head in agreement throughout this post, but when you wrote “Does my mother love me?” , I truly GOT IT!
After 19 years of motherhood, I still struggle with the silly cupcakes syndrome and am not certain that I have measured myself with the proper “love” scale before.
Thank you so very much. This will be with me forever.
I hear you, Jen. I KNOW I shouldn’t have the cupcake syndrome but I definitely fall prey to it sometimes.
The fact that they know they’re loved unconditionally by their mom? That trumps all of it.
Thanks for reading and commenting, sweet Jen!
As a guy, I have to look at this from the eyes of a child. I looked up to my mom who didn’t have the luxury to lower her expectations thanks to my father who routinely demeaned us, beat us, and eventually left us. My mom had no job due to the fact my father let her have one. She had to raise my sister and me (we were in high school by that point), put herself through college while working low pay jobs, and eventually come out on the other side as a nurse. She had to be strong and put in us high character and expectations because disaster would come otherwise at that time in our lives. Luckily (I should say we were blessed by God), my sister and I knew our parts and got scholarships to pay for our education.
I guess what I’m trying to say is when you as mothers are tired and weary, stressed and stretched beyond belief, we children understand. We can sometime see beyond the hurtful words or tense moments and see the love you have for us. The moment is just that- momentary. The love and care you have is the foundation you have built with the 99% of your other actions which are good, reaffirming mothering.
My mom has said and did many things during that time that she would probably get arrested for nowadays. However, I never doubted the love she had for me and I’m a better man,father, husband, police officer, etc because of it.
I do agree, for your own sanity you do need to step back and readjust yourselves to limit the hurt and prevent things from going downhill in your relationships. But the love you have shown before is like a credit card with no maximum limit. They will know they still have plenty of love in that “mother’s love” bank when you may think there us none…
Sorry, one of the sentences above should say my father “never” let my mom have a job. I posted without proofreading… darn my Georgia education!!!
Lee, your words are so encouraging. I am so sorry you had to walk the path of an abusive father. I have much admiration for your mother to get you all out of it, pick herself up and go to school. I’m sure those years were extremely difficult for her.
Yet she managed to raise a son who is sensitive to others and encouraging. All along, I’m guessing you knew how much she loves you.
Thank you for sharing this with us today. Such encouragement.