7 Ways we Make Mothering Harder Than it Has to Be
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I’ve spent the better part of the last 15 years on parenting message boards, email groups and Facebook groups. When I started off on this mom gig, I was determined to be a pro.
Whether or not I’ve succeeded at professional motherhood is best left un-judged, but suffice it to say, I’ve talked and typed this mothering thing to death.
My mothering questions these days are much different than they used to be. I no longer worry about helping my kids to sleep through the night, or worry about damaging them if they sleep in my bed (answer: it did not damage them). Now my questions surround how best to support a college freshman, how to juggle the schedule for the kid in three choirs, or whether it is my job or Dad’s to sew on Boy Scout patches (answer: it is Dad’s job!).
But, as I continue to browse mothering pages in order to lend a supportive ear, I see the same things happening over and over again.
In the past week alone, I’ve seen questions on the *perfect* way to have a gender reveal party, how to freeze a year’s worth of baby food, moms needing advice on how to make the first day of school super special, and then a boatload of moms showing varying signs of burnout.
To temper all of that, I found this article on my newsfeed the other day. And I’ve found, that the longer I’ve been a mom, the more I DO feed into some of these global trends–trends that, in my opinion, help to make motherhood a lot easier . . . . And just as effective. We live in North Dakota, not unlike Norway in climate, and yes, my kids play outside, in the cold, nearly every day. And, when the twins were little, they napped outside, in their stroller, while I took a walk to clear my head. For the record, they survived, and so did I! Like Spanish families, my kids stay up late. It may not be ideal, but we grab family time when we can . . . which means bedtime is more elastic than the grandparents would prefer. And I feed my kids like the French do, with a chorus of “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”
I feel rather bossy and curmudgeonly on these mothering pages lately, and I was wondering if I was alone in thinking that perhaps, just perhaps, we were all just making this way harder on ourselves than we have to! So, of course, I took it to my trusted Facebook friends on the Dakotapam.com page. (and I have the best group on ladies who hang out there, really, I do!) And I found that I’m not alone. . . other people think we are doing this the hard way.
So, without further ado, here are 7 ways we make this mom gig harder than we have to:
- Essie said,We don’t ask for help! We think we can do everything better by ourselves. If we get help, we have to be thankful for it, and not worry if it’s not done “right.” Boy did she hit the nail on the head. I can be a bit of a control freak. . . . A little more than “a bit”. So I have these visions of how things “should” be. But then I get bogged down. I can’t work 40 hours a week, taxi kids around town, have delicious and nutritious meals on the table, and have a spotless home . . . There are simply not enough hours in the day. So I learned to delegate. And let go. . . because my husband does not cook the same as me, and the kids don’t quite wipe the counter well after dinner. The folded towels don’t stack neatly and they used too much cleaner on the mirrors. But, I say to myself
- Traci said, Also, [we] stress about the things that don’t matter as much rather than enjoying the things that do! Moms, this is HUGE! It is what my grandma called “majoring in the minors.” We get hung up on all of the mommy wars hot topics (and you know what they are), leaving us no energy to simply relish our children’s childhoods!
- Beth said, Worry and failure to delegate. Amen, sister. How many times have you worried yourself literally sick? The what-ifs can consume you. What if he never sleeps, what if she never potty trains, what if she catches chicken pox, what if she doesn’t? How will he do in school, will she make good friends? What if the other moms don’t like me or approve of my decisions? This worry is consuming, moms. And it is eating us alive. This worry is robbing us of our joy. I remember telling my grandma of my worries when our oldest was tiny. She looked me right in the eye and said, “Worry is a sin”. I gasped. Here I was, trying so very hard to do everything RIGHT, and instead, I was doing just the opposite.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
(Matthew 6:25-34 ESV)
- Another Beth said, Volunteering for too much outside the home.Moms, let me teach you a handy phrase:”That is not going to work for us right now.” It is a long way of saying “no”, but it acknowledges that your reasons for saying “no” is for the good of your family. In other words, you are not just being lazy. At the advice of a friend, after starting my new job, I read Lean In. In Sandberg’s plea to end the mommy wars, she made a very eye-opening point: we need working moms and stay at home moms. Stay at home moms power the PTA and help coach itty bitty soccer. Mom’s, do what you can, and do what you like. Other moms will pick up the slack if you give them the chance!
- Kirsten said, I see a lot of moms that take things personally. Stop letting your feelings get hurt by your kids. YOU are the parent, not them! Agreed. Sometimes we allow our offspring to become tiny tyrants and control everything–including our feelings. Moms, high school is over. We don’t have to worry whether or not the people that we live with and feed and care for every day LIKE us. Actually, if we are doing our job right, sometimes they won’t.
- And then Brianna made the comment that I thought would be the first one mentioned,
Brianna Pinterest makes me feel like I’m not a good enough mom. Soo to answer your question, looking at Pinterest and comparing myself to those moms. I’m looking at you “magical first day of school” moms. Pinterest can be a lot of fun. I use it as a search engine for figuring out what the heck I can throw together for dinner in fifteen minutes using a can of corn, a block of cheese, an egg and a thimble full of milk (oops, forgot to grocery shop–again). Essie uses it to dream of her closet being magically filled. . Pinterest can be a lot of fun. But it can be a joy killer. This past week my Facebook friends were all passing around the blog post, Give me Gratitude or Give me Debt. It matters not that the ugly kitchen in question is still far nicer than mine, the point remains that our disease of comparing and coveting and holding ourselves up to some unattainable ideal has GOT TO STOP!
- Debbie said, Guilt. There is so much guilt, for not spending time with the kids, the house isn’t clean enough, our work is never finished, every little thing that we THINK we NEED to do to make the family happy and better. the key words here are “think we need”. The fact is, our families need US. They need a mom, a soft place to land. Our kids need security and unconditional love. They do not need a designer nursery, a colorcoordinated closet, or even cute little Bento box lunches. They need YOU!Moms, you can do this! Don’t make it harder than you have to!