Too often we find ourselves judging other mothers and being judged by other mothers. Frankly, if you don’t believe that you are judging other parents I’m here to tell you that you are. We all do it, whether intentionally or not. Even I have been known to cast judgement on other mothers in my mind, although I would never say something to the parent out loud. Realizing this is the first step, but below are four important reasons for extending grace in motherhood.
I am not an assertive person at all. This is something that I am working very hard at improving. I also cannot help but hold myself to impossible standards of perfection. In light of those facts, let me give you a little snippet of my current life:
- I have three children ages 6, 2, and 1.
- My husband works 3rd shift and is also in the Army National Guard.
- I am trying to launch a new business on my own.
All of this pretty much adds up to the fact that I am crazy busy and alone a great deal of the time. As if all of that weren’t enough, we have recently discovered some mice in our house (one of the unfortunate hazards of being so near woods).
While over at our house, someone saw one. They asked if we have traps to which I replied that we do. I figured that would be the end of it. Boy was I wrong. A few days later, they brought mouse traps over to set (right that second, apparently). They then say to me, “You can’t leave dirty dishes out overnight because that is essentially a feast to them.”
I was shocked and incredibly hurt, to say the least. Not only did I feel that they were absolutely over-stepping, it also made me feel worse about what feels like the perpetual mess that is our home. No matter how many I pick up, toys constantly litter our living room. Dishes seem to multiply in the sink no matter how many times I load the dishwasher. And frankly, I am just excited when there are two clean socks for the kids, let alone matching ones. I took this comment as a personal attack on my ability to provide a home.
This ate at me for days, partly because I didn’t stand up to it and partly because I began to question whether I was doing a good job or not. No more. Motherhood is tough enough and many of us are already giving ourselves enough of a guilt trip without someone else adding fuel to the fire. I am going to make a conscious effort to extend grace to myself and others. Here are four reasons why you should too:
You Cannot Do It All
Too often we try to be superwoman. It is a valiant goal but to no avail. We can’t do it all. Prioritize what is most important to you and your family and focus on that. If having family meals together and not eating out is important to you then focus your efforts on meal planning. Don’t worry about the fact that the coffee table is littered with mail and coloring books.
Opinions Are Okay: Put-Downs Are Not
If someone wants to offer their constructive criticism or opinion, that’s fine. Everyone is entitled to them and at the end of the day it is up to you to decide what is right for your family and follow it. However, any “opinion” that directly or passively-aggressively attacks you, your family, or beliefs is unacceptable. It needs to be firmly but lovingly addressed immediately.
Kids Won’t Remember If Dishes Were Done
There were times in my childhood when we were dirt poor and it literally came down to my mother deciding whether or not to pay the electric bill or feed our family. And you know what? Growing up I had no idea. All I knew was that I had a mom who loved me and a warm bed to sleep in. So believe me when I promise you that as long as there is food in their bellies and love in abundance, your kids do not care if you got the dishwasher loaded last night. They remember the games you played, the stories you read, and the fun they had.
You Are Enough
I feel like moms can never hear this too many times: You are enough. You are the one with the intimate knowledge of how your family works and what they need. You are exactly what your kids need and you are doing a fantastic job. It doesn’t matter if you are the car-pooling-cookie-baking-Pinterest mom or if you are the work-9-to-5-and-still-manage-dinner-and-story-time mom. You are doing what works best for your family.
We all need these reminders sometimes and I hope they help you extend grace in motherhood too.