This summer I experienced a pretty tough awakening. I’ve spent the past few years running the motherhood race, trying to be the perfect mom – and I totally lost grasp of the kind of mom God designed me to be. Go figure, His plan is better than mine ever will be. And I love that, I love that when we find our peace we realize that it IS in fact what God meant for you all along. The peace I thought I wanted, that I tried to achieve through actions and works – just left me drained, sad, and made me feel really disconnected from my kids. I didn’t like it. So I stopped “doing” and just started “being”.
Over the course of working through this in my heart, I jotted down a list of ways to steal the joy right out of motherhood. I’m list maker, and a bit sarcastic – so silly lists often help jolt me back into line.
How to steal the joy right out of motherhood
1. Plan your kid’s schedules to the “t”. That’s right, allocate 3 minutes to brushing teeth (that includes cleanup), 5 minutes to making the bed, 4 minutes to getting dressed, and 15 minutes to eating breakfast. And when they don’t measure up to your outline, freak out.
2. Overload their schedules with activities. Make sure they are signed up for tap, ballet, and jazz. And don’t leave it there, make sure they are signed up for swimming, soccer, football, and baseball. Make sure their schedules are jammed packed all week long. Convince them that in doing this, they’ll become “something” in the future. So when they don’t do this they’ll think they will never amount to anything.
3. Plan out their future, and don’t let them have a say. When your three-year-old says they want to be a dentist when they grow up, make sure you constantly remind them of that. Don’t let them explore other ideas or careers. Don’t let them know that you’ll support them and encourage them, no matter what they choose to do in their professional life. Make sure you let them know that you’ll be disappointed if they don’t choose to be a dentist.
4. Compare yourself to other moms, constantly. Make sure you live up to their standards, or at least what you perceive their standards are. You know that mom you see every time you head off to the park? She’s always in her cute workout clothes taking a jog around the neighborhood. But you’re stuck entertaining your kids. Why can’t you do that? Call the sitter, don’t spend that time with your kids. Head out for that run so you can be the perfectly fit mom.
5. Criticize yourself daily. Make sure you remind yourself of your failures, daily. The harder you are on yourself, the more likely you are to change those bad habits. Make that list of everything you need to change about yourself, so you can be just like that mom who lives down the street. You know, the one whose garden is always super cute, who always dresses so nicely, whose kids are always so well behaved, whose husband is always raving about her dinners, who always has time to make it to the salon every week, who is always so cheerful and perfect. That mom. That’s the one you want to be like.
There you have it. Five simple ways to steal the joy right out of motherhood. That should do it, right?
Hey momma, you know what? We are all too hard on ourselves. Way to hard. And I think it does start from a good part in our hearts – our massive love for our kids. We adore these little people so much, we just want to be the best mom we can be. We want to encourage them to be the best people they can be. We want to give them the perfect life, because we love them that much.
And then we take it too far.
You know what? YOU are all they need. The life you can give them, and are able to give them daily – is the life they need. Not some made up version of bits and pieces of what we perceive to be perfect. They need you. Your hugs, you love, your cuddles, and your smiles. There is a reason God choose you to be their mama. Because you have exactly what that child needs. When we turn to anything but Him for guidance, for advice, for direction – we are steering off the path He meant for us to walk.
That’s when it becomes draining, dreadful, exhausting. That’s when we begin to feel like we are failing. Because you know what?? We cannot fail when we are walking the path He has laid out for us. It’s impossible because His plan is perfect. It always has been, and always will be.
What we perceive as failure, He sees as drawing us in, closer to Him.
It’s okay if your kids see you with crazy mom hair all day, because that’s real. That’s you. And I could probably bet that they don’t notice it the way you do. To them, you’re just their mama who cares for them and loves them endlessly.
It’s okay if you have a few extra pounds on you, slow and steady is the best way. You don’t need to load up on the workouts and neglect your time with your kids. Consistency is key, and if that means your only option is to be consistent for 3 years before you reach your goal, then that’s okay. Because during that time you are being the mom your kids need you to be, you are taking care of your health, and you will look back three years from now feeling great. Thinking “wow! I did it, and I didn’t miss a beat with my kids.”
WE cannot change who we are, we cannot become someone else. But we can make the most of our situation. WE can choose to be intentional, purposeful, and make the most of it all. You are you because God made you this way. Don’t try and do what everyone else is doing, and don’t kick yourself for not achieving what someone else is. Yes, it’s cool to watch sometimes, and appreciate what others are – but embrace yourself, right where you are. Turn it over to Him and let Him lead your path.
Roosevelt once said: “Comparison is the thief of Joy”
It is. Let’s stop comparing ourselves to other mamas. Let’s stop comparing ourselves to other women, wives, or whoever it is you are comparing yourself to. When we do this we are comparing ourselves to a false perceived perfection. We only see the surface of the reality, not the heart of it.