Why I Stopped Trying to Be a Good Mom

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Do you ever have those days, weeks or even months of HARD parenting? I never knew how hard parenting was until I was at home all day with a toddler and a newborn. When I worked a full-time job I still struggled in many ways. But when you’re home all day with small kids alone — it’s like running a marathon with no mile markers.

Yesterday, my day started off pretty great. My toddler didn’t wake up until 8:30am. My 2 month old even slept in which allowed me to get a little more sleep. I got up and made a healthy breakfast, read some to Aurora and didn’t watch TV. The rest of the day slowly got harder. My baby boy was cluster feeding all day while being really fussy. I even had to let him cry for 10 minutes while I gave my 3-year-old a quick shower. (He hates being put down. He is always demanding to be held).

My daughter and I prepared a special tea and chocolate chip cookie party for her Great Aunt who came over. Aurora was doing great — until around 5pm. After her Great-Aunt left she became a totally different kid. I was already exhausted from breastfeeding my baby boy all day. It took me a good 45 minutes to get my daughter to calm down. She went from crying, to screaming “no” at me and even hit me in the face.

On top of all of this — I was trying to get dinner cooked and on the table for my family. Then — the dinner I made had to be thrown out because I used expired ingredients. Thankfully my husband went to the store to grab a pizza. So all my best efforts and hard work felt void by the time I crawled my tired body into bed. As I do often — I felt defeated at the core. I felt like I used to when I was running a marathon. You know, when the runner’s high wears off and you are fighting with every cell in your body to just keep going. Despite my tired and weary state — I found myself laying my struggles out to God. I was so tired. All I could do was ask for help. In that moment I decided I didn’t want to be a “good” or “perfect” mom. I wanted to be a better mom.

The next morning I woke up and decided before I even got out of bed that it was going to be a good day. I was going to check my frustrations, perfectionist ideology and unrealistic standards at the door before I started my day. I focussed on being a better mom and it worked. I got up, washed my face, put on lipstick and tackled each moment at a time. The best part is — I stopped trying to meet so many quotas and enjoyed the day.

I read to my daughter at breakfast which turned into 1.5 HOURS of reading. That’s 2 chapters in “Little House on the Prairie” and 3 other small chapter books. My 3-year-old even begged me to keep reading but my voice and jaw needed a break. When my daughter wanted to help, I gave her a rag to wipe down the table and chairs. She spent 30 minutes doing that. I even spoke to her in more of a playful voice throughout the day.

The reason for my story is that I did not seek to be a “perfect” mom, but a better mom. I cannot live up to the standards of this world. If I tried to do it all perfect in one day I would go crazy — and still fail. Perfect moms/parents do not exist. I chose to give myself grace so I could enjoy my children. Guys, I don’t want to be a “good” mom. It talks about in Isaiah 64:6 that, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” I can be a “good” mom everyday and still never do enough.

It’s through the deep faith and God’s grace that allows me to push myself to be a better mom. A mom that feels like quitting — but continues to push on. It allows me to humble myself to where I am in life. To appreciate it more even when it’s hard.

In many ways it’s like the way my daughter prays. At nap time and bed time — I start the prayer and my 3-year-old finishes it. When she prays she will go through her entire day thanking God. She will thank him for her jelly biscuit, shower, reading time and even will thank him for her time outs. What a beautiful example of how we should look at each day. Thanking God for even the rough moments because you survived it. Even those moments where your kid decides to throw the biggest tantrum of the century.

Moms, strive to be better each day. Apologize to your kids when you lose your temper. Invest in their lives more than you do Instagram and Facebook. (That comment is mostly for me). It goes back to the grace. If today was terrible and you royally screwed it up — then there is always tomorrow. Refocus and start over again. We all have bad days. Let go of the terrible day you had and be determined to start the next day better.

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My Journey with Prenatal Anxiety and Depression

To Foster Parents Who Take it Personal

“Don’t take it personal.” It’s a phrase I’ve heard more than a dozen times in the last few months. I hear it when I call my agency for advice. I hear it when I cry about the recent attitude my foster kiddo got with me. It’s a phrase I grew to hate. How could I NOT take it personal?

To me, fostering and raising kids is one of the most personal things I will ever do. I pour my heart into these kids daily. I wake up and immediately hit the ground running. I go to bed after everyone else. I make the meals, clean the home, haul kids where they need to go. I sacrifice my own wants and needs for others. How could I NOT take it personal?

Foster parents, this job is personal. Loving these kids is personal. But there is a difference between taking the attitudes to heart and the job to heart. This is something that has taken me several months to realize. The actions of these kids have nothing to do with us. They’re just being kids. But it doesn’t mean it won’t hurt along the way.

I finally see that the outbursts and yelling has nothing to do with me. Like any family or close friend, foster kids will let out their frustrations towards you.  Why? Because we are the closest people to them. It also means that they are comfortable enough to be vulnerable. They may not scream their actual struggles but they are telling you in their own way that they are hurting.  Consider it an honor that these kids feel like they can say what they feel.

Now I’m not saying yelling and cussing is tolerated. You do need to let them know they need to be respectful. But remember it has nothing to do with you. I wish I had understood that sooner.

In those tough moments I want you to remember that you are probably one of the few people fighting for them. Even if they feel like you’re against them. Remember, on top of all of that trauma — they’re just kids. It’s normal to get eye rolls and whining. I know I did it when I was young.

Most importantly, be kind to yourselves. If your foster kid calls you names or says you suck as a parent — know that it doesn’t mean you’re doing a bad job. The fact that you opened your home to love someone else’s child is reason enough to know that’s not true.

Don’t take the behavior issues personally. Instead, take the job personally. Keeping loving them. Show them you’re not giving up.

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Looking Beyond the Mess

What Foster Training Taught Me About My Own Trauma