I’ve always had a lot of self-confidence. I always knew I could be a good daughter, student, friend, wife. I never questioned my capacity in those areas. Yet, from the day I found out I was pregnant with our first (now 3), I’ve often worried about not turning out to be a good mother. It’s not rational. I’m confident in the decisions I make as a parent, I continue to grow and learn, and I always do what I really think is best for my kids. Yet there’s always a lingering worry – what if I’m not doing the right thing in x, y or z.
This isn’t a rational issue. It’s a matter of the heart. We are our own worst enemy and judge ourselves far more harshly than we judge anyone else, and often expect far more of ourselves than is humanly possible. I have come to the personal conclusion that the reason we as mothers worry so much is because being a mother is a COLOSSAL job. Yes, being a wife is also very important, but our spouses don’t depend on us the way our kids do. There is something incredibly special in the relationship between a mother and child – the physical, spiritual and emotional closeness of that bond and the awareness that what we do will have a huge impact on our child, places a weighty responsibility on our shoulders. This relationship gives rise to a lot of joy, but can also cause us to worry even when our reason tells us that everything is in place.
So, I have a couple of challenges for all you moms – challenges I’m also trying to do myself.
LOVE YOURSELF. Please. It’s so much easier to see our faults and criticize ourselves than it is to genuinely appreciate ourselves the way God made us. I think we sometimes shy away from seeing the good in ourselves because we don’t want to be unrealistic or prideful. But the fact is, God created us, and he created us in his image. When we judge ourselves too harshly, we not only don’t do justice to ourselves. We don’t do justice to God either. He is the author of the beauty and goodness inside of ourselves, and we honor him by recognizing both. Instead of spending so much time focused on the talents we don’t have, why not spend more time focusing on the talents we do have, being grateful for them, and putting them to good use? Why, when we look in the mirror, do we only see the blemishes, and not the beautiful person others see when they look at us?
This isn’t about feeling good or denying our real flaws. It’s about remembering that we truly are daughters of God, and that he sees us as being so beautiful and good that he has given us as a gift to our husbands and kids. That says a lot.
And if that isn’t enough. Think about what we teach our kids. Aren’t we trying to teach them that they’re beautiful just the way they are? That they themselves are enough? That each of them has a wonderful set of talents and characteristics unique to them? It’s easy for us to see the truth of this when it comes to our kids. So, what about us? They’re never really going to believe what we say about them being beautiful and good the way they are if we don’t apply that to ourselves as well. If we are constantly dissatisfied with ourselves, our kids are naturally going to start criticizing themselves. On the other hand, if our kids see us comfortable with ourselves the way God made us, they too will be comfortable with themselves.
It’s time to see your beautiful side. Take a few minutes, and fill out this “I Love Myself Because” sheet. Do you have a child who tends to be too hard on themselves? Give it to them to fill out also.
We’ll never succeed at completely getting rid of our weaknesses; we’re much more likely to succeed at crowding them out by bringing our strengths out more and more.
STOP COMPARING YOURSELF WITH OTHERS. This is really just another caveat of rightly loving ourselves. God gave us certain talents. If we are developing and using those talents, we are both pleasing him and becoming the mothers he intends us to be. Comparing ourselves to everything else and beating ourselves up for the talents (or time!) that we DON’T have isn’t fair to ourselves, and doesn’t show gratitude to God for what he HAS given us.
Leave the rest of the stuff aside. The Pinterest perfect cakes and parties. The bloggers picture-perfect living rooms. Our friends’ great fashion. By the time we finish seeing everything that impresses us in others on-screen, and everything that impresses us in others in real life, we can feel like we’re missing an awful lot. And, maybe we are. But it’s all stuff that we don’t need to be good mothers. Our kids don’t need us to have the latest fashion – our smile is our most beautiful accessory to them, and it’s ALWAYS in fashion. They don’t need incredible parties or DIY decorated homes. Don’t get me wrong – if these are your talents, that’s wonderful, and have fun with them. But if they aren’t, please don’t feel any less. YOU have everything your child needs. They need your love, caring, and understanding. They are benefiting from the talents God has given YOU. And that’s enough. They probably don’t even notice the rest of the stuff – after all, they’re not the ones looking at Pinterest and going through the blogs.
CARE FOR YOURSELF. This again is an extension of loving ourselves rightly. God has created us, so we should care for ourselves with dignity. It sounds obvious, but it’s something moms often feel guilty doing. I’m not talking about the eating three times a day kind of care. I mean caring for your own needs – physical, emotional, spiritual… Take the time you need to rest. Ask for help when you need it. Find time to take a shower and get dressed, even if it means leaving something undone. When you need time by yourself take it. Also take the time to be with your husband and go on a date (even if it’s just a date night at home). Don’t feel guilty every time you spend money on yourself (I’m not talking about going overboard, but about not feeling bad getting things we need, and defining “need” without being too stringent or too loose). Remember – everything you invest into living a healthy, dignified, wholesome and joyful life gets channeled back to your family by giving you more energy and happiness to share with them.
I’ve chosen these points because I not only think that they will help us be more loving, free, relaxed and authentic with our family, but also because I think we owe them to ourselves. It’s fine to keep trying to be better and better for our kids and spouse, but in justice to our Creator, we also have to be fair to ourselves, recognize, and care for all the goodness and beauty God has created us with. My family doesn’t have to look like yours, and yours doesn’t have to look like your neighbors. But ALL of our families should be reflecting God’s own goodness and love in our unique ways. And, for that to happen, we moms have to not only love our spouses and kids, but ourselves as well.