Motherhood is teaching me a lot about my human-hood. And it hurts.
I face off against the frayed and tasseled ends of my patience and goodness every time my voice shouts too loud, or when my son’s unexplainable need to fish in the toilet stirs up my ugly, unreasonable side.
I don’t like that girl I hear yelling at the barely three foot, tiny, blond with giant Precious Moment eyes. Who is that crazy, angry lady, and why does she yell at children? She sounds like someone I never wanted to be.
It’s so counter-intuitive because I work in social work, and as a result, my biggest mom fear is that I will put my son in therapy. But what is really crazy is that it is precisely my unfettered, out-of-control fear that causes my strongest, scariest reactions. The kind that could land him on the psychologists couch. If they still used them.
Sometimes my son’s childish ignorance or disrespect on repeat just push a button and suddenly, I’m terrified. Or furious. And there he is, my little baby who still wets his Pull-ups, taking 31+ years of anxiety and anger.
I feel so crappy that I am trying out my uneducated mothering on him. Surely all the rest of my kids, whenever they get here, will get a wiser version of me. But he gets this tired, cranky, impatient lady who forgets who she’s dealing with.
It’s not fair, to him or to me. And my heart can’t take many more nights of the ache and regret. As I tuck him in under his glow-in-the-dark stars, I’m desperate to make the most of those last moments of the day. Trying to make good memories for him so maybe he won’t remember me only with angry eyes.
It’s just that Mom Guilt, and the general sense that I suck at this mom gig, haunting me all the time. So when I came across Sarah Bessey’s practices of mothering the other day, it was like a life jolt. I realized I could intentionally parent, with help, and I could not only stop sucking at parenthood, I could actually enjoy it.
Because let’s be honest: it’s hard to enjoy something you’re bad at.
For the record, my like or dislike of parenting was never, ever about not liking my son. I’m wild about him. I just was not at all wild about my skills. It just felt like hopeless most days.
My personal parenting goal is: to enjoy motherhood and say with confidence, “I am a good mom”.
But I needed hope. And some structure.
Tonight I am sharing Sarah Bessey’s practices of mothering, which I plan to intentionally fold into my living as a parent to my son. I will share some awesome insight from Lisa Jo about not yelling anymore, which I am so very excited to stop doing. That will come in a few days. (And if you can’t wait, you can visit her site and find the article early, if you must. But I will get to it. Promise.)
Here are Sarah’s mothering practices, which I love-love-love, and I think they will enlighten any parent, mom or dad. I have three here, and then I will redirect you to her site to read them all. So good.
The practice of speaking life.
I can’t get away from the truth that is this: Words Matter. The words that we speak about ourselves, about our children, about our life matter.
The practice of attachment.
Here’s why it helps me love mothering: attachment parenting works. … See, I want their hearts. I want their hearts so connected to mine and to my husband’s that the love between us will be stronger than any thing else that comes along. So, I do these “things” not because they make me a good mother but because they help me to capture their hearts. And once I have their hearts – and I do – I can lead and direct and train them with their full trust and confidence.
The practice of routine.
Sure, a routine makes sure that I can get done what I need to get done for myself and for my family, but it also helps me find room for those things that are truly life-giving like prayer, meditation, reading, being outside, writing, reaching out to friends and neighbours, helping others, advocating for others, being present in our community and so on. By establishing a loose routine, I enjoy motherhood more because it feels intentional and restful, simplified and life-giving for all of us.