By Annah Matthews, author of Things Momma Told Me
We all have those days. Days where everything we do feels fruitless. Nothing stays clean for more than five minutes. The laundry pile only seems to get larger, never smaller. The to do list gets longer. The children are bored and refuse to get along. No, Thank yous. No, Great Job Mama. Does anyone around here care that I’ve swept the floor for the 8th time today and wiped up more spills than I care to count? Probably not. So for all of us out there that just need a little pick me up, happy hour, hang in there, pat on the back moment, this list is for you.
1. A few missteps here and there is not going to ruin your children for the rest of their lives. It is so easy to fall into the trap that everything is on you and if you fail at one point in their life then they are destined to become some dysfunctional adult. Our kids are waaaaay more forgiving of us then we are of ourselves. So you forgot to pack their lunch for the field trip or you just realized they’ve been walking around in shoes two sizes too small for a few weeks. It really is okay. They’ll get over it. They know you still love them.
2. You are not supposed to be like her. Who? Oh you know HER. The mom who seems to have it all, do it all, and never loses her patience. Whatever you think about her, you only see a small part of it. Each of us are gifted and talented in so many different ways. Some of us are extroverts and some are introverts. Some of us are beautiful blondes and some of us have good hair colorists. Some of us are stellar cooks and some of us can’t cook instant oatmeal. But we all have gifts that are unique and that our family loves about us. What is your sweet spot? What do others say you are good at? Embrace who you are!!! Not who think you want to be.
3. Stop Comparing. It is a contentment killer. You cannot be content while you are comparing your life to someone else’s life. Stop and count the blessings around you when you begin the comparison game. Don’t even let your thoughts go down that road. It always leads to a dead end of discontent.
The weapons we use in our fight are not the world’s weapons but God’s powerful weapons, which we use to destroy strongholds. We destroy false arguments; we pull down every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ.(2 Corinthians 10:4-6)
4. Your husband and children think you are the most beautiful thing around. I know that when you stand in the mirror you see every single stretch mark, cellulite, scar, and flaw. But your husband and children really care so much less about the outward appearance than they do about your heart. They love your smell, the way you rub their backs when they feel sad, the familiarity of you standing in the kitchen, in the morning, in your pajamas, with jacked up hair sipping your cup of coffee. Step back for a moment and see yourself through their eyes.
Charm is deceptive and beauty disappears, but a woman who honors the Lord should be praised. (Proverbs 31:27-30)
5. Take a break. Take a nap. Watch a movie. Read a book just for yourself. Go out with some girlfriends. Go get a pedicure. Enjoy spending a little time by yourself. Get rid of the guilt and just enjoy life a little more. Laundry piles, runny noses, home projects, dirty floors, and unmade beds will still be there tomorrow and the next day and the next. So just go breathe, relax, and enjoy life a little more and, for heavens sake, stop feeling guilty about it.
6. A little discipline goes a long way. It is so extremely hard to feel like the bad guy. But moment by moment we are shaping these children and discipline is part of the parenting game. If you tell them they will have consequences for their actions, then you have to follow through. Even though it breaks your heart and even though they think you are the meanest mom on the planet. They will forgive you and they will move past it. They want and need to be disciplined in a loving way. It shows them that you care because they are yours! Our job as parents is not to bail them out or make excuses for them every time they mess up. We need to teach them to be responsible for their own actions.
7. The days seems to drag on but the years seem to fly past us. Whatever stage of life we find ourselves parenting always feels like the hardest stage. We spend a lot of time wishing for the next phase of their lives so that it will get easier. But I’ve been told by a lot moms wiser than me, that it doesn’t really get any easier. The stages may change, but parenting always presents a new challenge. Don’t wish away any phase of their lives because you think the next one will be easier. From night time feedings to temper tantrums, from navigating friendships to letting them drive away in the car for the first time, each stage is precious and only lasts a moment. Discover what you love about the age that your children are TODAY because it will move past you too soon.
8. Celebrate life and have more fun. Have a dance party in the living room. Let them eat ice cream after they brushed their teeth. Build a fort with the couch cushions. Go out for a pizza. Go on a vacation to a place you’ve never been. Bake a cake for no reason. Celebrate being a family and teach your kids (and those around you) how to have a good time.
9. No one is going to thank you for fixing their breakfast, folding their laundry or emptying the trash. Well your husband may notice and occasionally thank you, but for the most part, the day to day task of being a mom is largely unnoticed. But it is okay because YOU are building a home that matters. The little chores that you do all day long, the nights that you spend with a sick child, the moments that you are present is felt and it is felt deeply by your family. Want to know why? Because if you took off for a few days, the whole entire atmosphere of your home would change. Your absence would be felt, not just in the chores that didn’t get done, but in the touch that you bring to your home. As a mom you bring a unique quality and softness into your home that no one else can do. What you do in your home is more than just maid service or short order cook. You bring comfort, love, solace, and a safe place for your family. So no one may thank you for being a wonderful wife and mom, but they sure do find deep reassurance by being in the home you have designed.
10. You are the only Mama they have and you are the best Mama for them. God didn’t mess up when He entrusted these children to you. He gave them to you as a blessing and gift. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You are doing a great job!