A Mother’s Day Confession (AKA My Mom Identity Crisis)

My sweet, one-of-a-kind family.

Mother’s day is a tricky holiday to celebrate. There are joys and sorrows, successes and failures, gains and losses. At the core, I don’t think it’s meant to be a measuring stick day – but that’s what it has felt like to me in the past.

Come on and line up against the wall and we’ll mark the growth in your mothering – I hope this year you compare better to that mom… 

I feel like I wake up every Mother’s Day into a dream – like the ghosts of Mother’s Day past – reviewing my year as a mom. Silently praying my kids will still love me when they wake up.

I turn Mother’s Day into a pseudo “January 1st.” Making mental lists of resolutions. Behaviors I need to change, feelings I need to address, new habits I need to form.

Before I’ve even braved into the kitchen for a cup of coffee, I’m already weighed down and feeling defeated.

Enter my sweet children with their handmade cards, flowers, candies, treasures they picked out for me themselves at the dollar store, and smiles – laughter and delight floods the room as they jump and hug (at the same time) – wanting desperately to excite me with their love.

A Mother's Day Confession My Family

My problem with engaging in the celebration of me was that no amount of new gifts could help me get rid of that old measuring stick.

This past year, I addressed my Mom-Identity-Crisis. I asked myself: as a mother – do I define myself by what I do or who I am? And I discovered that it is both, which proved to be not a cut and dry, easy answer to work through.

It was like finding my pulse. Activity raises it sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Doing and being live in balance. I found myself stopping often to check the pulse of my heart and mind – what am I feeling right now? What am I thinking about this activity?

This constant checking was useful in discovering what I actually enjoy doing – I could put a check by it and say I feel most like myself when I do this. I know that sounds a little silly but when I would measure myself against the measuring stick (I made from comparing myself to other moms) I never felt good enough.

  • I wasn’t elegant enough.
  • I wasn’t creative enough.
  • I wasn’t organized enough.
  • I wasn’t social enough.

When I based my identity on the measuring stick – my pulse was all over the place, racing then dropping. Busy then down and defeated. I beat myself up for all my “not enough” doing, not realizing that I was setting a being standard.

Elegance, creativity, organization, and socialization all flow from the spirit of a person. When my spirit was ignored for the sake of image, I lived out of balance. Full of the weights and burdens of becoming someone else.

Slowly I was able to change how I looked at myself. I determined not to read, watch, or listen to anything online if I was going to just compare or criticize. Who am I do judge myself by their standards or them by mine? Putting off the standard of doing allowed me the strength to gain inspiration from others. To put on the thoughts that build me into the woman I want to be. The woman my husband and children know and love.

This woman doesn’t cringe or hide from the Mother’s Day measuring stick. She knows she is different from other moms and is okay with that. She has a growing, healthy sense of self, and she checks her doing pulse often.

Balance is only possible when I accept who I am, and then base my doing on a foundation of strength and growth. Balance is also accepting who I am not, and crossing off the list of things to do anything that would be better left for someone else to accomplish.

This Mother’s Day, I look forward to my kids expressions of their love for me – just me, the mom they see every day and love anyway.

A Mother's Day Confession My Kids

For more parenting with purpose inspiration – check out my post “How to Make  Parenting Decisions with More Efficiency and Less Guilt.” I’ve included a free downloadable guide.

Inspiration for the Weekend

This week has been full to the brim for our family. I’m a little surprised we made it to Saturday without meltdowns. From me. Not them.

Balance is a beautiful thing, and I’m starting to understand that doing more doesn’t mean I’ll be out of balance – it just means that there must be more intention and communication to settle things back out.

If you missed Monday’s post about our home routine, you should check it out – but let me tell you that we did not have one single day to just be home this past week. We still completed all of our lessons; the schedule just called us to be out and about everyday.

I’m learning to breathe like a runner.

Because even though we’ve been running around, I know my spirit needs inspiration or I’ll lose my gifts. I don’t want to run just to keep up, I want to win. And winning is when we are healthy, nourished, encouraged, creative, and calm.

One thing I’ve learned about myself is that my “art” (as this author describes it) is how I encourage others. The opposite of creating art for me is when I live uninspired. When my well runs dry. It’s such a stark contrast.

I criticize instead of compliment.

And my well normally runs driest when we’re busy because I like slow, deliberate, and calm. To be busy, I feel like I have to leave my true self behind just to make it. But then it really isn’t me that’s made it.

I’m learning that faithfulness to the small things makes a big difference.

I’ve been trying to be more present here and here because community is the best medicine for winter weather. I need regular time alone and consistent time with others too.

Again with the balance.

What helps you keep a good balance?

How have you been inspired this week? Please share your links in the comments!

 

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Affiliate links in this post: A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live

Inspiration for the weekend

We thrive on inspiration whether we acknowledge it or not.

I have drawn a distinct line in my mind between being and doing.

Inspiration allows me to be. To live and love from a center of right motivation.

While doing isn’t wrong, on the contrary, it is a necessary outlet of true being. It is when my doing comes from competition or guilt. Focusing on how much I’ve got “done” or how well I’m doing compared to so-and-so.

When I can get caught up in the doing and neglect the conscious being, I come undone.

Although a lot of inspiration comes from within, it is healthy and right for me to recognize the gifts in others and choose to be inspired by them. And that’s what I’m offering you today: some of my favorite thoughts from this past week that have nurtured my being.

I hope these encourage you too.

What we are reading:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory :: I’ve never heard so much laughter from my littles. This read aloud has become our all-time favorite!

Adam and His Kin :: The retelling of biblical creation and the first days for Adam by Ruth Beechick is inspiring and beautiful. I’ve heard the story all my life, but not told in this light. It’s been an inspiring part of our history lessons especially for my contemplative daughter.

You & Me Forever :: Francis and Lisa Chan put marriage into the eternal context. This perspective changes everything. Not your average book on marriage.

 Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Thanks for your support of this site!

 

Ending the Struggle Between Good Mom and Bad Mom

As a mom, it comes with the territory that mistakes will be made. And with my mistakes, I felt an over abundant amount of guilt.

What I wish I had was a quick reference guide for things to not feel guilty for – for example: “child who will not eat what is put on their plate” and the quick reference says that’s a 1 on the 5 point guilt scale. Phew. I don’t need to feel that guilty.

Guilt is a huge and ugly force we wrestle as moms. It doesn’t help us function for the future because we’re constantly checking back to see if we’ve “made up” for what we did wrong yesterday. Feeling guilty promotes the lie that if I feel bad enough, then I will change. If I view myself as a “bad mom” then I will want to strive for “good mom” tomorrow.

The endless struggle between “good mom” and “bad mom.”

Every morning when I wake up, I review either what I’ve done or what I need to do and I motivate myself somehow. Generally reaching out to my goal of being “good mom” with guilt from being “bad mom” as my faulty motivation.

When my oldest was a toddler and my middle was just a baby, I desperately wanted to be “good mom,” but my good was never good enough. My kids cried, fought, went on strike against nap time (which felt like a personal attack on my sanity), and I didn’t have any help. Day after day, my desire to try to be “good mom” faded into a jaded reality.

My strength, confidence, and resolve dwindled to next to nothing. Worse, my identity was under attack, and I thought more and more that I would be destined to remain “bad mom” permanently.

Ending the Struggle Between Good Mom and Bad Mom Smiles weigh more

As my kids grew, my goal changed from reaching for “good mom” to trying to just stay neutral. I viewed my motherhood as a scale to balance. Good actions, words, attitudes on one side – bad ones on the other.

I drove myself crazy trying to simply keep track of the weights on the scale. I burdened myself to breaking by the end of each day. I never felt worthy of my rest because there was always more to do.

Life wasn’t a gift. My children weren’t my joys. I had made them my judges.

I thought I had to make them like me and be happy with me (all the time) in order to earn the “good mom” merit badge.

Ending the Struggle Between Good Mom and Bad Mom Toddlers don't make good judges

But that’s all behind me, and you can put it behind you too.

This is what changed it all for me: I asked myself the question “How will my kids remember me?” Who am I to them every single day? What am I good at? What makes me, me and therefore their mom? Not somebody else, not their best friend’s mom. My kids just have me, and they will remember the things that made us, us.

Thinking from this point of view – casting a long view of my mothering – I realized that I was okay that my “good” was not going to look like baking cookies every day or creating crafts every day.

Identifying these as unmet expectations of myself allowed me to realize that my kids never asked me to do this anyway! Sure they want to make cookies sometimes, and yes they ask to make crafts occasionally, but I couldn’t appreciate the sometimes and occasionally. In my mind, I was deceived into thinking that every day and always were the standard, and that just wasn’t possible.

I wasn’t appreciating the person I was designed to be because the scale said I wasn’t “good” enough.

Ending the Struggle Between Good Mom and Bad Mom She will remember this feeling

False burdens started falling of the scale that I had heaped up in an effort to motivate myself to be better. With my new view for motherhood – embracing who I am, and setting my sights on how I want my kids to remember me – I had a starting point for true inspiration. I could see the moment in front of me as an opportunity, not a test. I saw my kids as future adults – with their personalities still in tact – and I engaged with them in fun and free ways.

I was able to feel again, and with that I could direct my feelings into further motivation for change.

Just don’t be “bad mom” motivated me a little bit before, now I had a vision for what good I could contribute, and that motivation was much more empowering. I focus on one “bad mom” habit at a time, and when I see small incremental growth it provides even more motivation.

The encouragement is inside, and it isn’t based on a winning scale.

I discern the voice of conviction from the voice of condemnation. Did you know that Satan burdens in generalities, but the Spirit convicts in specifics?

So I hope you can receive this for what I intend it to be: encouragement to be the person you were created to be and to set aside the scales and the guilt. Maybe you’ll use a different question to cast vision for your future, but face your identity – start small, and end the struggle.

Sometimes my deepest need is for another adult to know that I’m alive and trying, to relate to me.

For someone courageous to come and take a burden of false guilt off my scale. 

I have been helped so much by Crystal Paine in her course: Make Over Your Mornings. She has been like a mentor to me, giving me permission to take off the guilt and put on purpose. Click here to learn more about her course.

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