I’ve always been a rule-follower. Give me the rules and I’ll follow them. Tell me the right thing to do and I’ll do it.
It turns out that motherhood isn’t like that. There isn’t a hard and fast guide book.
When I first became a mother I had some mistaken ideas about what motherhood was. I thought:
- I needed to control the children.
- homemaking meant everything was perfect (the house, the children, their appearance, my appearance)
- getting impatient and yelling was part of making myself understood.
- my children were a direct reflection of me.
What were your ideals and misconceptions on motherhood?
At some point I realized that controlling didn’t work. It doesn’t work. As Charlotte Mason says, “children are born persons.” Persons demand respect. Children should receive respect. They have opinions and desires and preferences. It is reasonable to try to understand what these are. I don’t have to cater to every whim, but I am talking about learning who my kids are. Who God created them to be.
I realized that when I try to have everything perfect, it makes myself and my family miserable. Miserable. Toe-ing the line is no way to live. And who sets the standard of what’s perfect? God recently showed me that His standards are what I need to live up to, not mine. (And surprisingly, He is more relaxed about clean toilets than I am.)
It turns out that impatience and yelling aren’t part of who God is, and they needn’t be part of who I am. Sometimes they sneak in, but getting my children to listen is so much more pleasant when I’m patient and understanding. Impatience and yelling breed exasperation (see below).
My children aren’t a direct reflection of me. They’re a reflection of God. When they do something terrible, it doesn’t mean I’m a bad mom, it means they’re children. It means they have a will and a desire all their own. It means they need direction.
The reason I started this website is because I got so bogged down in what I thought motherhood should be, I was missing the moments. I was missing the richness of relationship I could have with my kids because I had things to get done. I was missing the memories we could make because they were too messy or too much work.
I don’t want to miss anymore. I want to experience my children. And I want to learn to be a parent who focuses on who my children are, rather than the requirements I think I should meet.
Here are some amazing resources I’ve run across lately that have helped me be less rule-oriented and more God-oriented in respects to parenting.
- a post at Sally Clarkson’s blog, I Take Joy on first-time discipline versus the heart:
And so, when we discipline our children, we must learn to look at their hearts. Is their heart rebellious? Are they being willful? Am I expecting too much for them–their age, their level of over-stimulation, the circumstances, their maturity level, their abilities? A child should not be punished for being exhausted, immature, a boy, or for making a mistake.
- I ran across this on Sprittibee on exasperating your children. It is soooo practical:
As a perfectionist and an analytical thinker, I admit that I have been less than a perfect roll model of love and acceptance 100% of the time with my children. I tend to expect too much, lecture too much, get upset too quickly, and be too critical. I was glad for the reminder to NOT exasperate the children this morning…
- this short video from Sarah Mae at Like A Warm Cup of Coffee is a reminder that children are…children. And sometimes we expect too much.