BOUNTIFUL — I sat in church Sunday with a group of women when one woman raised her hand and humbly, with emotion in her voice, explained she was a terrible mom because she was losing her cool with her kids so often lately.
The woman is eight months pregnant, has two other young children at home and her husband has been away the past three months for work.
My heart went out to this young mother. It was so easy to relate to those same feelings of failure for the countless times I myself have reacted the very same way that she probably had. I realized that all of the self-help books, counting to 10 and knowing a child’s love language is useless in that moment when complete and utter mental and physical exhaustion pushes you to your breaking point and dad’s not there to save you or your — or perhaps he's not even there at all.
In today’s world, mothers are constantly made aware of how traumatic it is to spank our kids, to yell at them, to not hold them or play with them enough, to feed them non-organic food, let them play video games or watch TV and give them sugar or fast food and every other thing that I probably do wrong or not enough.
But I’ve learned something in trying my best to raise my three young kids. My best is not perfect and it never will be, and that is a thought that is both a relief and dejecting.
Sometimes as mothers, we don't need one more piece of parenting advice or one more self-help book filling up our nightstand. Sometimes we simply need a friend; someone to tell us that our kids will turn out just fine in spite of us and because of us; just like we did.
I have learned that there is real power in asking my children for forgiveness when I know I have once again “failed” as a mother. I’m always amazed and touched at how quickly they offer it regardless of the fact that this is not the first time I have had to ask nor will it be the last. Perhaps tougher still, I am learning to forgive myself — something that for a mom can be incredibly hard because no one is harder on Mom than Mom.
After hearing this young mother’s confession, I couldn’t resist raising my hand. I asked this young mother her name.
“It’s Jacquelne.” She said almost fearful. I’m sure she worried that she was about to receive one more unsolicited piece of advice on what she should have done or could do better.
“Well, Jacquelne.” I said, now with emotion in my own voice. “You just call me the next time you feel that way, OK? You can scream, rant and do whatever else you need to do to feel better again. There are times that I’m the exact same way and that’s OK. I’m not perfect and I know I make a lot of mistakes, but I love my kids tremendously just like you love yours. Because of that I know something for a fact that even with all our mistakes and shortcomings we are still good moms you and I.”
The truth of the matter is that most moms are good moms, but we work hard at times convincing ourselves and each other that we are not. There is no right way to parent and apparently there are a million wrong ways. Just ask your own mother. If she is anything like mine she will be quick to tell you all the things that she did wrong in raising her own children. Yet in my eyes she did it exactly right.
When Jacqueline admitted her feelings, I didn’t judge her, or think her kids were given the short end of the stick, or worry that they would suffer their entire adult lives as a result of their mother. I simply felt for her. I didn’t know her, yet I loved her. I wanted her to know what I need to know so many times in raising my own kids. That she was doing just fine. She wasn’t just a good mom, she is a great mom. Mostly I wanted her to know that her weaknesses do not define her, her strengths do.
Sometimes as mothers, we don’t need one more piece of parenting advice or one more self-help book filling up our nightstand. Sometimes we simply need a friend; someone to tell us that our kids will turn out just fine in spite of us and because of us — just like we did.
About the Author: Kate Rose Lee
Kate Rose Lee is a Utah native, mother of three and author. You can read more of her writing as well as her books at www. momentsofchunder.blogspot.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org