Trigger warning: this story contains depictions of abuse. If you need help, please call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 800-799-7233.
Numbers are not really my thing, but tonight…tonight I got really good at counting. And you know what I counted? My mistakes. I soaked in a hot bath of guilt, shame, and fear, and literally counted the number of mistakes that I could remember from the past week or so. I counted the number of mistakes that I’m still carrying from who knows how long ago. I’m counting…counting…counting…
I was late every day last week to pick Josie up from pre-school. Gives new meaning to the pre-school walk of shame.
I turned in Josie’s eye exam form 3 weeks too late. She’s probably about to go blind.
I didn’t realize that Josie’s Halloween parade, party and class chapel were not only happening this week, but parents are welcome…as is her Halloween costume. Insert a 35-minute round trip drive home to frantically search for said costume in a mountain of princess dress-up clothes in the world’s messiest playroom.
Despite my best efforts to remain consistent in discipline, Josie has gotten off too easy with a few too many sassy comments.
After a long evening of yelling, feeling lost, and ready to walk away from the motherhood game altogether, I shoved a wailing Josie in bed at 6:17 p.m.
And those were just a teeny tiny sampling of the Josie ones. I probably don’t even have the emotional capacity to go into any of the other mistakes I’ve made a mom to a beastly boy child, a wife to a hardworking husband, a co-worker, a daughter, a friend…
Sounds like a nice little Tuesday night, doesn’t it? Let me tell you, it’s not.
Earlier today, I had some friends affirm me, and specifically affirm the mission of the Mother of the Year movement. They said that I’m good at empathizing with moms of all ages because whether our kids are in diapers or in dorm rooms, we all want to be better at giving ourselves a break. They said that I’ve given us all a rally cry. A cry that says that our best is enough for our families. A cry that says we don’t have to live the lies that we believe about ourselves. A cry that says no matter what, we’ve got great moments in each and every day to celebrate and we can stand tall in that victory.
Ummm, wow. But guess what I forgot today? The rally cry. The mission. The words that I often write to you. And the words that I truly believe with my whole heart. I’m a good mom. So are you.
So in case you’re having a night like I am right now…a night where instead of counting victories, blessings, or even mediocre success, you’re counting all of the ways you’ve failed. Let’s talk.
Replace the word should. “I shouldn’t have yelled at her.” “I should have put her Halloween party on my calendar.” “I shouldn’t be sitting in the bath right now being mean to myself.” Instead of using the word should, use the word could. It’s a lot more empowering and creates space for making some changes. “I could have controlled my temper. Next time, I’ll try to walk away for a brief cool-down.” “I could have put her Halloween party on my calendar. In the next 2 days, I’ll find her school calendar and add every event in so I’m prepared.” “I could allow myself to feel some grief over my mistakes, but then I’ll forgive myself and move on.”
Tell yourself the truth. It doesn’t take a genius to read through my list of mistakes and figure out what lies I’m believing about myself and my situation. And you know what lies do? They steal our joy, our confidence, and our peace. Replacing the lies with the truth, one by one, will send a new wave of peace and clarity our way. This is something I’ve been practicing (and am soon to reveal an AMAZING tool that can help us master this!)
Invite Jesus and someone else into your mess. Maybe don’t invite a friend into the literal bathtub with you (#awkward), but the quiet moments are perfect to have a little chat with Jesus about how you’re feeling and ask for His wisdom. Ask Him to tell you the truth about who you are. And then find a time to share your struggle with a trusted friend. Nothing makes you feel more alone than keeping your mess to yourself. Be brave and bring someone in who can speak lovingly to your pain.
Hey, mama. Take it from me, a mama who just wasted an entire evening in a shame spiral…it’s not worth it. Count the good stuff instead. Say out loud that you are Mother of the Year. Shout the rally cry that your best is enough for your family! You’ve got this.
If you need reminders of your awesomeness, sign up for my email list and be sure to join the Facebook group!
“I just want to have a good night.”
That’s what I think EVERY. SINGLE. AFTERNOON. on my way to pick up the kids from daycare. That’s not too much to ask, right?! A few hours of family bliss. Hugs and snuggles. Sure, the occasional time-out when necessary, but let’s just all get along.
Well, that wasn’t tonight. I knew we were off to a bad start when Josie wouldn’t let me look at her when I picked her up from daycare. Yes, you read that right. She wouldn’t even allow me to watch her get into her car seat and buckle up. And, of course, as the parent, I don’t follow her rules because she doesn’t get to make the rules.
But I was able to channel something that felt a lot like confidence. I was peaceful, even as she was losing her mind. And I think I know where that came from.
Last night, I stood in front of a hundred people – spotlight shining, mic booming, and cameras rolling – to share my story of creating this whole Mother of the Year movement. I was scared to death. (So nervous, in fact, that the day before, I was so full of self-doubt about speaking that I had myself convinced I was so inadequate that I couldn’t even buy a shirt at the mall. It’s quite the leap, but I’m sure you’ve been there with something equally as ridiculous!) But once I hit that stage, that sweet peaceful confidence took over. I stepped right through that fear to tell the crowd the same truth that I try to tell myself every day.
I told every single person there that their best is enough for their families. That they didn’t have to love every minute of motherhood to love their kids well. That they are great mothers (or fathers, grandparents, sisters, etc.).
Tonight, I believed that for myself.
And that’s what made a difference in my parenting. Maybe I was still riding that high, but I figured if I could push through fear last night and experience something life-giving and amazing in front of a crowd, then I could push through the fear of not having a good night with my kids to be the confident, tough, loving mother that my firecracker daughter needed tonight.
It’s not about perfection. I flubbed and ad-libbed a few times in my 10-minutes on stage last night. And I waffled a bit tonight, too. Perfection is not what ushers in the peace.
Replace the lies with the truth. The gremlins in our heads will give a pretty powerful performance, convincing us that the mean and horrible things only we would think of ourselves are actually true. They aren’t. And the sooner we can spot the lies and replace them with the truth, the more peaceful we will be.
Get to know yourself. Seriously, as soon as I started on my journey of discovering and naming the unique parts of my personality, my passions, my drive, I truly believe God kept calling me step by step into my future. I started a blog, got back on the radio, and launched the Mother of the Year movement. But more than those “accomplishments”, I was able to see that how God put me together wasn’t an accident. That my empathy is more blessing than curse. That my gift of storytelling has actually been one of my strengths my entire life. And the list goes on. THE BEST PART: the more I know about myself, the better mother I am! (If this sounds interesting to you, and you want to know more about starting this journey, I’d love to invite you to an event that could seriously change your life!)