What does “success” look like for you when it comes to motherhood?
Back when I was studying developmental psychology for my counseling degree, we talked about this mind-blowing concept called Good
It’s the idea that there’s a wide range of parenting styles and behavior that will still produce kids who are decent, well-adjusted people who care about others and will do just fine as adults.
Good enough parenting.
And yet we put SO much pressure on ourselves to be some idealistic version of a mother where we have a perfect house, feed our kids the best meals, still have self-care and follow our dreams, but also help our kids get good grades and be happy AND never, ever get impatient with them OR yell at them OR have a full-blown meltdown where we end up crying in a closet eating Baskin Robbins………right?
There’s this concept of “success” as a mother that’s floating around out there in the world that’s doing way more harm than good.
I realized this awhile back when I was talking to someone about how I REALLY want to be the best mom I can be and I just keep feeling like I’m coming up short.
And she asked me point blank, “What does that mean to you?”
I was like, “What do you mean, what does that mean?”
She said, “I mean what does SUCCESS look like to you as a mom? How do you define it?”
It stopped me in my tracks. I had to really think about it and, for the first time ever, I put what was floating around in my head into words and I spoke them out into the world: “I guess success as a mom to me looks like being available to my kids 24/7. But honestly, I’m exhausted trying to achieve that.”
Then she asked me, “Do you really think your kids need 24/7 access to you in order to be okay?”
“No, I guess they don’t. They also have their dad and their grandparents and each other.”
And she said, “So….why are you putting such an unrealistic expectation on yourself?”
I was speechless.
And what’s worse, this concept of success as a mom that I had cooked up in my mind went way beyond just being available to my kids 24/7.
When I started to unpack this idea of what I was expecting from myself in order to be a successful mom, I realized that it also included feeling like I should be cooking healthy, organic meals for my kids every day and have their laundry clean and folded.
It also includes giving my kids everything they need and much of what they want, but also not TOO much because I should be a minimalist who doesn’t have too many plastic toys. (p.s. We have enough plastic toys to fill Noah’s ark.)
AND it means making sure they have music lessons and birthday parties, and lots of opportunities in life, and most of all, that I’m always patient with them and loving and I never EVER lose my stuff and yell at them or make them feel bad.
Did I mention I work a full-time job while I’m doing all of this stuff in my mind?
In that moment, I realized that I had created an absolutely ridiculous, completely unattainable definition of success for myself as a mom that I will never live up to.
And quite honestly, none of us will.
What’s your list? What does being a successful mom look like in your mind?
Have you ever unpacked it? Maybe it’s different from mine.
Maybe your version includes more crafts or a cleaner house, but I have a feeling you have a list too and if you really stopped to think about it, you’d realize that your definition of success might be making you miserable instead of letting you grow into the mom you were actually created to be.
A mom who is free. A mom who can be herself, give herself grace, let things go and enjoy life and focus on what’s really, truly important. Because it actually has nothing to do with a list and everything to do with relationships.
Do you know how your KIDS define success for you as a mom?
Because they’re not measuring you. Only YOU are measuring yourself against this invisible standard.
You know who you are to your kids? Mom. And that’s enough.
Every. Single. Day. My 3 year old wraps her little arms around my neck and tells me, “You’re the BEST mom in the whole wide world.”
And you know what? She’s right.
You are the best mom in the whole world for your kids, too. Because you’re you. You are the only mom they’ve got and there is no better person in the world to do that job.
Nobody will ever love your kids more than you do, and love is what your kids need the most.
Honestly, even if you handpicked the most organized, fun, organic-cooking, patient, Pinterest & Instagram worthy mom in the whole world, your kids would still choose you.
Because they would rather have you in all your imperfections than
any other mom. That’s the truth.
We have to stop thinking of motherhood as something that can be measured on a success scale. It’s just the wrong model.
You’re not building a business, you’re nurturing a family. This is the long game. This is not about quick wins and organized checklists.
It’s about people.
Motherhood is messy and beautiful. It’s absolutely exhilarating and
completely exhausting. It’s the most meaningful thing you will ever attempt and the hardest thing you will ever do.
And you know how you succeed as a mom? You keep going. You don’t quit.
There is no competition. You are hands down the best mom for the job.
We have to switch over from the “checklist” model of success and move to a relational model that leaves room for growth.
The more we look to a checklist model of success, the worse we feel and the more we question our value… and all that does is lead to us being more depressed, more anxious and more stressed out moms.
Trust me, I’m speaking from experience.
You know what DOESN’T determine your success as a mom?
- Your child’s happiness.
- How many vegetables your child actually manages to swallow without spitting them out in disgusting wad back onto their plate.
- How clean your house is or whether or not you have moldy sippy cups hiding under your couch.
- Whether or not you sometimes (or daily) lose it on your kids and just. want. a. break.
Because there’s no such thing as a successful mom. You are a mom. It’s who you are. It’s not up for debate.
Your story isn’t finished. You are in process, just like your kids. Our kids don’t need us to be perfect. Heck, they don’t even need us to change out of our pajamas every day. (At least I sure hope not.)
They don’t need us to keep the house perfectly clean or make all their meals from scratch or even to be with them every minute of the day. When they look at you, they just see their mom.
And you will always be the best mom in their world. So, be you.
Love your kids like crazy. Do the best you can. It’s enough. I promise.
How do we get out of that mindset of measuring our success as a mom?
Here are 5 Tips to Flip the Script in Your Motherhood Narrative:
1. Get clear on your most important thing in motherhood.
That is simply loving your kids.
When you get up in the morning, instead of thinking about your giant to-do list and how if you were REALLY a good mom you’d get it all done, ask yourself: How can I love my kids today?
How can I love myself today?
How can I experience God’s love for me today?
Let THAT be the focus of your list.
And what gets done is great. What doesn’t, it won’t matter a year from now or 5 years from now anyway.
2. Start from a position of who you are, not what you do.
You are not a checklist.
You ARE your kids’ mom. Not only that, but you are the best person for the job. Lean into your strengths instead of punishing yourself for your weaknesses.
3. Flip the script in your head.
Your words have power. And some of the most powerful words you speak are the ones that happen silently inside your head. Use those words….the thoughts you dwell on….to start from a position of who you are.
Tell yourself “I’m a great mom. I love my kids well. I choose what’s important. It’s okay for me to let some things go. I am the best mom in the world for my kids. I am becoming a better mom.”
The more you let THOSE thoughts simmer, the easier it will be to become a better version of yourself.
4. Focus on connection, not perfection.
It isn’t the number of minutes or hours you’re with your kids; it’s the quality of the relationship you’re building with them in the time that you have.
You can have a quality connection with them in tiny pockets of
time. Don’t get sucked into a checklist of all the things you have to DO for your kids or with them.
Instead, build a relationship with them. Ask them what they love.
Notice who they are becoming and validate them. Listen to them with an open heart.
As they grow into tweens and teens and some day graduate and leave the house, they won’t care if their laundry was folded or if they
grabbed it all wrinkled out of a community basket in the hallway.
They’ll know you love them. And that’s what they’ll remember.
5. Don’t ask yourself where you’re failing, ask yourself where you’d like to grow.
Give yourself grace. Ask for help when you need it. Celebrate your wins and learn from your mistakes.
At the end of the day, ask yourself: “Did I love my kids well today? Did I love myself well today? What can I learn from today? How do I want to grow tomorrow?”
Remember, you are already the best mom in the world for your kids. You are more than enough.
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