Bad Mom VS Good Mom

How do you handle THIS with grace?!

I had the most amazing day at church today.  It was Stake Conference.  (Though I am Mormon and we do eat meat, we don't actually EAT steak and confer about it at these things, we just get together and listen to people talk.  It is spelled differently.)  Anyway, it was good stuff.  I felt really...lifted up in a good way.

Do you know that feeling?  When life has been kicking you in the teeth and you are starting to feel a little sorry for yourself and angry at somebody (probably hubby) and then something happens or you read something or hear something and suddenly, your burdens feel lighter and you just KNOW you can go on and do better?

It was like that. 

And it was a good feeling.

My noisy babies fell asleep and my older kids were quiet for a few moments and I actually had a chance to be still, reflect, listen, and look inward at what I needed to work on.  It is a wonderful thing every once in a while for a busy, noise bombarded mother to just B R E A T H E and consider life and what is going right and what is going wrong.

I don't get those moments very often.  And too often, when I DO get a moment alone I spend it moping a floor or reading a junky novel.  (Which is totally awesome by the way, not giving up mysteries anytime soon.)

I know I talk a lot on here about the stuff I do wrong and the spilled milk and the screaming kids and ways I manipulate my husband, but deep down, I actually want to be a good person.  I WANT to be a good mother and an amazing wife.  I want to look back on my life when I am old and feel like I did my best and be...content with the job I did. 

So I left this conference after hearing a lot of words that I needed to hear.  I thought some thoughts that I needed to think.  I felt whole and confident and humbled all at the same time. 

I was sure of it:  I was going to do better!


Less fighting!

More patience!

More love!

More kindness!

More understanding! 

Shoot, I was even going to clean my windows. 

I can't think of a better feeling than that- the peaceful feeling you have when you know  you need to work on something but you also KNOW you can do it.  It is a quiet and humble confidence.  It is really what us religious folks call faith on a personal level. 

Then of course, I got in my car. 

I drove home. 

My family was there.

Then the strangest thing happened.

My five year old sassed me over something really stupid. 

The house was imperfect, just how I had left it. 

There was lots to do and people coming over and nobody seemed to cooperate as I desired. 

Suddenly my desire to be more incredible was slammed face to face with the reality which is life: chaos, mood swings, imperfection, and fatigue. 

Mama, it is SO much harder to be a good mom in real life than it is IN MY HEAD.  Do you know what I mean?  I have the sneaking suspicion you do.  (I am not even good at being a good mom on my blog!!!)

I think of the scripture in Matthew 26: 41, "the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."  (Did I just freak you out with scripture?  Sorry.  Very occasionally, usually on a Sunday I whip out the old spiritual post.  You can leave.  Don't be mad at me.)

But it IS true you know.  Even if you don't believe in the scriptures, this one has  a lot of truth in it.  Inside, the GOOD MOM me, she KNOWS how she should be.  She knows how important it is.  She knows she must be better for these kids and for her husband and for the world and just for HERSELF.  

Then real life happens, and boy is it hard.  The flesh IS weak after hours of noise and little sleep and just being stressed in so many parts of life.  The ACTION of perfection is so much harder than the IDEA of perfection.  

I kind of think that this is why things get so heated sometimes between mothers when we talk about all these perfect parenting techniques with all their peace and love and no raised voices.  Yeah- they sound pretty good to just about everybody.  Kids who listen because you are consistent and fair.  Mothers who stay calm even when things get rough.  

This all sounds GREAT.  But our real lives don't always work out that great, do they?  Mine doesn't at least.  It is hard not to just get discouraged, don't you think?   It is also easy to get offended, HELLO, we usually KNOW when we are doing something we shouldn't!  I know that the absolute last thing I need when I am down and out and screwing up is somebody to take the time to say, 

"Man, you are totally doing that all wrong.  You better work on that."

Gee, thanks.  

But I think we should keep going.  Keep striving for perfection.  Keep trying to improve.  Keep forgiving ourselves when we fall short.  All the while hoping that little by little we will get better and overcome our weaknesses.  

(And for me, I keep hoping that my kids won't remember much before the age of ten except for awesome stuff about cookies and hugs.  I mean, you want your kids to be smart, but not TOO smart.  Then they just remember stuff you would rather forget.)

Peace out mamas-
I think we can do it.  



Chloe grice said…
I've said it before, i'm sure, and I know you don't know anything about me, and I don't REALLY know you, but I DAMN WELL LOVE YOU.

I keep trying to give up reading 'those perfect parenting blogs' because they do make me feel so inadequate, but you're right, we SHOULD keep trying to do better, so I'll keep reading, I guess.

Thank you thank you thank you for your clear and uplifting voice in the sometimes cloudy world of motherhood :-) xxxxx
momto5 said…
i can so relate. it reminds me of buddha, how he went off by himself and found enlightenment. well, heck it is easy to be enlightened when you sit by yourself and meditate.. it is hard when you have kids underfoot, bills to pay, a toilet overflowing, the cat barfing in the dinning room, etc etc. it is hard to have that grace.
a friend of mine has a little quote on her sig line on her emails.... if you can't have grace in the moment, have grace in the turn around.
last night after sending my oldest off to college (away from me to live in the dorms. weep weep) and having spent the last two week purging my house and 1 week of that with a broken foot and obsessively cleaning i was burnt out. and the baby keeps eating the cat food, like big handfuls. i read recently that catfood can have salmonella in it and if we put the cats food on the counter then she (the cat) jumps up there and eats on the counter and gets her little cat feet and cat butt all over the place where i prepare food. so i yelled at the baby "stop eating the freakin' cat food!" and dh says "did you really just yell at the baby? this is a problem you need to fix without yelling." i just started crying. what a jerk i was for yelling at our baby, what am i suppose to do with the cat so she can eat and not have her food molested by the baby? and why can't i be perfect all the time? why am i not always happy and calm and centered?
it is so easy to be perfect at 10 pm when everyone is in bed and i say to myself... "tomorrow will be better. tomorrow i will be calm and loving and cool and collected and nothing will make me mad. my kids will have this awesome super mama and my husband will come home to a clean house, calm happy kids, and a great home cooked meal." i can usually manage one of those things. lol
i don't know why i am telling you all of this. your post spoke to me. thank you
Anonymous said…
I love this! I always feel like I am doing a terrible job as a parent. Especially when my 3 year old is screaming at the top of his lungs in my face because I put him in time out for hitting his baby sister, or throwing his toys or throwing balls in the house, etc etc! Then my husband comes home & says "have you done laundry?" "what's for dinner?"
I am so stressed I can only IMAGINE how working moms feel! I give them props for being able to manage a full time job & kids!
Jenny said…
I totally had the exact same moment at church a few weeks ago, after I screamed and yelled just to get my kids out the door so that we could get there before they closed the doors for the Sacrament (if we get stuck in the foyer we may as well go home because no spirit is felt out there, let me tell you!) Anyway, I'm pretty sure the lesson was on something totally unrelated, like people who do terrible, horrible things, like jail worthy sorts of things, repenting and finding their way back, but what I heard was how mothers who do terrible, horrible things, like screaming at their 5 year olds all day every day, and locking themselves in their bathrooms with three screaming kids outside... screaming, and telling those kids they can make their own breakfasts, or starve (except for the nursling, whom I'm actually kind of nice to, seeing as he can't even control his arms yet), that even those mothers can say sorry to said children, and husbands, and anyone else in their rampaging paths (like the dog, for instance) and that it will be okay. Okay, so that hypothetical mother is me, and while the dog is still waiting for his apology, I actually feel that I've been able to let go of some of the high expectations, and in doing so have been a tiny bit happier (although last week before church I was again the mother from hell in order to get there in time - why can't I just set the clock a little bit earlier???) And the fact is, my mom always screamed and yelled to get us out the door for church too, and I still love her, and I'm pretty well adjusted, so I'm praying my kids will survive as well.
Mama Birth said…
Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. We should go have a steak together. And dude- cats=bad. My hubby says stuff like that too, "Why are you so impatient?" REALLY?! It took me 11 hours to get here!
deirdre laborde said…
thank you so much for this. it really hit home. *tears*
Thanks, I totally needed this after my mental breakdown last night. Popped some placenta, got some sleep (still not enough) and got up this morning to tackle the day. and the mess. I can do this! (I hope)