The Good Enough Mother – Part 2

Posted by on Sep 14, 2012 in Bug & Bear, Faith, Mental Health | 4 comments

One of my least favorite things about writing is that it seems like whatever I choose to write about in a given week becomes an area in which I struggle exceedingly that week. It’s a reason I often want to just stop writing and sharing altogether. When I write about my marriage, then it seems Husband and I fight and bicker more. When I write about trusting God, it seems I struggle with a greater measure of fear and worry. And when I write about my kids, it seems I struggle with less patience and greater feelings of inadequacy.

Just a couple of days ago I wrote The Good Enough Mother. The next day, I woke up with a feeling of heaviness, a feeling that I’m doing a bad job with my kids. I’m surprised at my tendency towards impatience and anger. I should know better, for goodness sake, I’m a child therapist. In trying to determine the source of the heaviness, I became vaguely aware that it had to do with unrealistic expectations of myself and children and inaccurate perceptions. When I looked deeper, I saw that when my kids don’t listen or follow the rules I unknowingly let a slew of lies flood into my heart… It’s because I’ve done something wrong… It’s because I’ve been so dang imperfect… It’s because no one in my house respects me. Giving these thoughts real estate in my brain then generates a snowball effect. I end up feeling so inadequate that it negatively impacts my mothering, my attitude towards myself, my relationship with Husband, and the atmosphere in my home. Then, to compensate, I try to work harder and be better. Do more. Become different. I unknowlingly get caught up in trying to change my behavior into something more perfect instead of weeding out the roots of my inaccurate perceptions and giving myself (and my family) grace to simply be Good Enough.

Just so you know, in case these same thoughts ever invade your brain as well, they’re all lies. Your kids don’t disobey and fail you at times because you’re a failure, but because they’re kids. Kids just don’t know all that much, they lack judgement, common sense, and life experience. They’re learning, but it is a long and tiresome process.

As soon as I recognized all of the lies that were leading to my sense of heaviness and feelings of failure as a mother, I set to work evicting them from my mind and replacing them with a better tenant – truth about myself and my children. For me, the truth about who I am as a person and mother and who my children are as little people comes from what God says about us.

Before each of my children was born, I got to know them through praying about them, and felt like I had a Bible verse for each of their lives. For Bug, it was that she would be “full of mercy and compassion, slow to anger and abounding in love.” For Bear, it was that she would have “great peace and undisturbed composure.” Ironically, Bug often struggles with anger and Bear often struggles with fear. Sometimes I think that God gave me these specific verses for them as an anchor to keep me grounded and focused on the truth when I could see no actual evidence of these truths in the children who are actually in my home. It works. When I start to feel overwhelmed with their challenging behavior in these areas, I purpose to stop and speak these words of truth about them. Then I purpose to speak these words to them. It never fails to change their behavior and my perception. Truth will do that. And it serves as a much better motivator than negativity, criticism, and punishment.

As for myself, I am highly imperfect and in need of much grace as a mother. Thankfully, that is okay, and part of simply being a Good Enough Mother. More importantly, in spite of my human imperfection, my heart is home to a perfect God who helps me be better than I am in and of myself when I let Him. Because God lives in me, love lives in me, and this is what love is:

“Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful orvainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Amplified Bible)

In an effort to speak truth about myself as a mother, and because I believe truth is a better motivator for me than negativity, criticism and punishment just as it is for my children, I started saying this about myself in the morning before the children awake and start pulling on my emotions:

I endure long and and I am patient with and kind to my children.

I do not display myself haughtily in my home.

I am not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); I am not rude to my children (unmannerly) and I do not act unbecomingly to them.

(God’s love in me) does not insist on my own rights or my own way, for I am not self-seeking; I am not touchy or fretful or resentful with my children; I keep no account of their mistakes after those mistakes are addressed.

I can bear up under anything and everything that comes, I am ever ready to believe the best about my children, my hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and I can endure everything [without weakening].

God’s Love in my family, my marriage, and my relationships with my children never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].

Speaking words of life and truth about myself and my children in the morning did not magically make me the Perfect Mother, but it did change the tone of the entire day. There was less frustration and negativity, more patience and grace. I know that as mothers we try to speak kind and encouraging words about our children each day, but what if we did the same for ourselves? What if every mother mothered herself with kindness and love? Kindness, love, encouragement, and truth are, after all, better motivators than negativity, criticism, and punishment. An added bonus of filling ourselves with these things is that we are then full of them to pour out to our children – it is hard, if not impossible, to pour into our kids what we are not full of ourselves. Try encouraging and building yourself up instead of tearing yourself down in your thoughts today and see how it lightens everything in your home.  See if it doesn’t give you the grace to believe you’re Good Enough.

4 Comments

  1. That was one of the best blogs ever!!! I felt like I just got the most uplifting sermon, a free therapy session, and a good chat with my friend!!! I love you!!!! Awesome!!!

    • Thank you, sweet Shari!

  2. C, I love your blogs. Especially valuable is your ability to be vulnerable, to speak the truth about how hard it is to be a mom, even with all the training, experience, and knowledge. Your honesty and sincerity invites others to follow your lead, to open up and be real, to tear down the walls that separate people when we act like we are perfect. You are a true inspiration! Keep writing.

    • Thanks, Janet! That means a lot to me – sometimes I write something like this and then wonder if anyone else can relate or if I’m the only one who’s not perfect :). I so appreciate you reading and your feedback.

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