Let’s set the record straight from the beginning.
I am nowhere close to being a parenting expert.
In fact, the more hours I log in as a parent, the more I’m convinced parenting experts are a fallacy. I believe with my whole heart that the world needs a whole lot less parenting experts and a whole lot more supports for parents to stay well and vital as they navigate this tremendous responsibility of raising kids.
This is all coming up for me because this past week I’ve had a *really* tough time being a mom.
From the very beginning, the hardest part of the mothering journey for me was the fear that I was getting it wrong.
I have never in my life wanted to get something more right than this.
And when I’m in a bad place, I can feel like there is one way to get it right (which of course, I can’t figure out) and a million ways to mess it up.
In hindsight, I think the risk of failing felt so painful, I was willing to give up the wheel if someone would just tell me what to do to get it right. And pretty soon I was trying less and less to know myself as a mother.
Pretty soon, it felt like I was just trying on someone else’s rules of how it is supposed to happen.
We all know this way of living and mothering will only turn you into a crazy hot mess- and a hugely insecure one at that.
And I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the crazy hot mess department.
But I’m also learning a different way.
Finding “perfect motherhood” isn’t a fancy new coat you put on and fool everyone into thinking you’ve got it together when underneath you’re in beat-up 10 year old yoga pants.
Kids can SMELL a fake a mile away.
I’m figuring out that it isn’t about having the perfect response when your 4 year old breaks out the “adolescent-sized” attitude on you…but rather you don’t. lose. your. ever. lovin’. mind. when she does.
And you don’t lose your mind because you have been TAKING CARE OF YOUR MIND and so she knows she isn’t responsible for your sanity she is responsible for herself (as much as a 4 yr old can be) and YOU are responsible for YOURSELF and you show her that by taking EXCELLENT care of yourself (as much as you can with three little
terrors cherubs running around.)
Do you want to know how to become the mother your child needs you to be?
Become a whole and healthy woman. And take that vital woman and show up as the mother of your children.
It is the only way. THE ONLY WAY.
It is impossible to make wise judgements when you are stretched thin, tapped out and drained from the core.
It is impossible to grow loving and honest relationships when you are spinning out of control with stress.
Think about the shining moments you’ve had before when you felt deeply proud of who you were as a mother. I can guarantee you those were the times you were feeling really good in your own body, mind, mood and soul.
The more you show up as a whole, healthy, well person the more your choices in motherhood come from a wise and well place.
Yes, of course, you’ll still feel like you are wading through dense fog much of the time.
Motherhood is a radical act of faith.
Instead of letting the thoughts go crazy in your mind that say, “You suck. You’re failing at this. You don’t even know who you are anymore.”
Try this question instead, ask “Who do you want to be?”
Who you want to be is who you will become.
Gaze at the image of that person for a while. Not in comparison or judgement. But to see the horizon for a moment since so often our eyes are stuck on the ground in front of us.
You are a magnificent work in progress, you have a destination, you are on a gloriously messy journey.
When I caught this glimpse, my whole perspective shifted.
This is the path of getting it right.
To see myself in the becoming and to invest deeply in the woman I’m heading toward step by step along the way.
Today, I ask you to pause and instead of seeing who you’ve been or who you are in this moment, to gaze at your beautiful horizon and ask yourself “Who do I want to become?”
Let that vision settle into your bones and then from that place step forward into your life and with every thought, every choice, every breath draw yourself closer to the horizon.
I would LOVE to hear from you- your experience of the mamahood journey and your insights about this topic. Please join me in the comments.
p.s. Just a gentle reminder that if you’d like to commit 2013 as a year where you keep the vision of who you want to become before you and surround yourself with the kind of support, guidance and tools you need to make it a reality please consider spending the year with me and my inner circle of Motherlode mamas.
Learn more about this package here.
Oh, we all have so far to go! I am in no way a “parenting expert” but I do know that moms need support, encouragement and inspiration from those in the trenches and you are doing a great job being that glimmer of light! Your desire to help moms care for themselves so that they can better care for those they love is evident and so needed – I’ve loved what you’ve shared and what I’ve gleaned from following along with you! Thanks Lisa!
Thank you for sharing, Susan! I’m a huge believer in parenting MENTORS…of which, I believe you are such a wise and wonderful one!!
Thank you for sharing this. You know those times when something comes along you just *NEED* to hear? I’ve been struggling at times with the who I was/am and trying to focus on where I’m going in the journey called motherhood, life. And just reading those words “Who do you want to be?” make the tension in my shoulders simple melt away. My new mantra lately has been “Make yourself…create the life you want to live”, and this post was such a beautiful echo of what I’ve been telling myself. Thank you thank you Lisa!
You’re so welcome, Sara…love your mantra and that you resonated with this 🙂
“Do you want to know how to become the mother your child needs you to be?
Become a whole and healthy woman. And take that vital woman and show up as the mother of your children.
It is the only way. THE ONLY WAY.” – I am discovering this to be true in my own life. For 7 years since my daughter was born, I made a whole lot of excuses that I couldn’t look after myself well as my kids made it too hard for me!! Now I find that as I set boundaries and make time for excercise and time out just for me, that I am a better mum for it. I wish I had worked this out sooner. Thanks for this reminder and I hope next week is a better one for you 🙂
Mmmm, yes Emma- so many moms I talk with wish they had taken their own care much more seriously from the beginning…but each of us has a new day every day to start!
lisa, needed to hear all this today. thank you, thank you for the honesty and encouragement! –kris
You are so welcome, Kris xoxo
Ah, so wise & beautiful, and as the other ladies mentioned, so timely. Being in the journey of motherhood, this is always a timely message & reminder, because even if we know, the loud cries of our little ones, or the cutting remarks of our older ones, can for a moment (or longer) make us forget who we really are. I love Lisa how you always tie important concepts together, bringing so many aha moments to light.
Yes! Adina, isn’t that what happens? It isn’t we don’t know ourselves, but we can forget in the face of challenge- working everyday to keep the truth in front of us is essential…
I so needed to read this today! As the mother of 3 very high needs children it’s so easy to get caught up in the spiral of their behaviors/my stress that I forget who I am and where I am headed.
So glad you found your way here, Kristina 🙂
Thank you so much for this beautiful reminder, which I am going to print out & read when I go to my hiding place / cool down spot aka the bathroom
*Smile* oh yes, I know those places well…my spot of choice lately is the laundry room 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing this. My girlfriend sent me the link knowing that I am going through this same journey right now, reading this got the water works on big time! I write for a parenting website from the view of a solo mum and have just written a draft article with similar but not as well written as yours 🙂 Like my style, I love that yours is real and honest and real real real 🙂 I really feel the world needs more and more real people in it and parents not glossing over things and she’ll be right – thank you so much for sharing 🙂 x
Michelle- welcome! Thanks for stopping by- what a blessing to have a platform to care for other single moms through your writing- and yes, we all ALL need more real in our lives. Real bathed in grace 🙂
Really needed to hear this. I have felt this way for sometime now realizing that by expecting perfection you stop living !!! Living is what we want and Thriving is our real aim. If we keep that in mind, suddenly my posture becomes upright and my face bright, as the word “thriving” automatically makes me do that. Had an awful morning with one of my kids and as I read your article it reminded me how I could respond differently next time. In fact I had been responding well but today “expecting perfection” it got me into trouble. Last week I spoke to a friend and we have decided that we will call each other every Thursday night to review our dreams/goals and support each other towards those. I feel where I get lost is the lack of accountability as its so easy to get lost in the day to day.
thanks for this Lisa!
It came at just the right time! As always you have such a beautiful way of expressing things…
the mum I want to be…one who plays with her son without distraction (from phone/email/internet….my big-time time sucker!)…so today we played for half an hour and already I feel like with that alone that i’ve honoured this commitment to myself. thank you also for the reminder that every day is a new opportunity to become the person that i want to be (ie. let go of the perfection)!
I’m tense from a long day so the header of this email caught my eye.
It was an interesting read, probably something I will ponder for a while. But the thing is, I don’t even know who I want to be or what kind of mother I envision for my kids. I have a teen getting ready for college with whom I spent life as a hard working single mom, and now two babies under two as a wife and stay at home mom. And the thing is, even though I have this amazing opportunity to stay home and raise my kids, I feel overwhelmed and unfulfilled. So I’m just spinning my wheels…
I just want to thank you for your beautiful post on motherhood. It resonated very deeply with me and I relate so much to everything that you have written. It has shifted my perspective and I will use it as inspiration to always stay focused on taking good care of myself and remembering who I want to be…for the good of my family.
Loved this! I’m going to print it out and tape it somewhere (like, my forehead) to remind me that I don’t have to be an expert, I just have to love the journey and trust myself and my children, and laugh a lot more.
WONDERFUL article. Just shared on Facebook. I love the reminders you give me each time a take a deep breath and give myself the time and space to dive into your work. (I often tell myself I’m too busy to read right this minute….. oh, la!) LOVING your work. Thank you.
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