Episode #131 How do you know you are doing enough as a mom?
I am overall very satisfied and fulfilled with my life but I wish I could be more patient and kind. I’ve had a lot of family time this summer, much of it wonderful, but I find myself getting snappy and irritable with the kids.
I want to be grateful for what I have but instead I get obsessive about getting the kids to act the way I want: use nice words, clean up after themselves, play outside instead of screens, eat healthy foods. I just want to know that I’m doing the right things for my kids.
It feels like I can’t rest until all my work is done. How do you know if you are doing enough as a mom when there is still work to be done?
Parent Educator Answer: How do you know if you are doing enough as a mom?
- Are you taking responsibility for your own mental, emotional, physical, and financial health? Think about someone you know with a mom who doesn’t take good care of themselves. Notice what a burden it is on that child. The best thing you can do as a mom is to take excellent care of yourself so your child can be a child and not have to carry this additional burden of becoming an adult at a young age.
When kids take on adult responsibilities at a young age, they get rewarded by our culture. We see how capable they are and admire their successes. The problem is they develop a fear of relaxing and it is difficult to trust others to take care of them. Focusing on our own health allows your kid to be a kid.
- Are you still around? If you haven’t walked out the door never to return, then you are doing enough. Staying in the game, figuring things out, taking breaks and coming back shows your kids that you love and care for them. Never underestimate the power of BEING THERE. Ask anyone who was abandoned by their mom. Just you being there and doing an imperfect, lackluster job of mothering can show your children a realistic view of the role and help them decide who they want to be as a parent someday.
Julie’s mom abandoned her and her 2 siblings at a train station. Her mental health was teetering on the edge so she walked away and never came back. This creates a huge void in a child’s life with a lot of unanswered questions. It also made her determined to never do the same to her kids so when life got hard, she thought there were only 2 options: leave or stay. If she admitted she was tired and needed a break, it felt like abandonment. Her thinking was black and white, love or abandonment. Together we developed her ability to admit life was hard and it was ok to take breaks from the 24/7 demands of parenting.
- Are you trying your best? There’s a saying in Parent Education that those who take parenting classes and work with parent coaches, aren’t the ones who need to. Just by you TRYING: learning, growing, and seeking out additional resources demonstrates EFFORT. This is what we call a growth mindset and it is a wonderful thing to model for your children.
I remember teaching my girl scout troop to jump rope, not individually, but the big one where you run in, jump, turn around, and run out, while one person stands on each end turning the rope. Reece was cued up, ready for her turn to run into the ropes. She was watching the rhythm, gearing up her body to sync with the timing, she looked nervous and it was taking her a long time to go for it. Her mom was there watching her daughter’s hesitation and thought she would help by running into the ropes and showing her how to do it. “Look, Reece, it’s easy, just do it like this.” Reece’s mom did a seamless job of running in, jumping a few times and running out saying, “Now it’s your turn”. After watching this demonstration, Reece walked away and sat down, refusing to try for the rest of the day.
Perfect parenting is not the goal. When we do everything easily and beautifully, our kids develop a fixed mindset. “Mom’s good, I’m not.” “I’ll never be good at it so why try.”
Just by you staying in the game, trying your best, and taking care of YOURSELF as well as your kids, you are modeling imperfect, super adequate, good enough parenting.
Life Coaching Answer: What gets in our way from believing we are doing enough as a mom?
Here in the U.S. we live in a “blame the mom” culture.
Kid throwing a tantrum? Blame the mom.
Kid not doing his homework? Blame mom.
Overweight kid? Blame mom
Middle schooler with anxiety? Blame mom.
It is overwhelming and it seems like the only way to be a “good enough” mom is to have kids who act perfectly.
So we focus on getting them to act the way we want so we can feel confident in our parenting.
If they eat their vegetables and clear their plate, we feel calm and reassured that we are doing the right things.
When they play nicely with their siblings, we praise ourselves for raising such great kids.
Instead of focusing on our thoughts inside our heads, we focus on improving their behavior, believing that’s the only way to think nice thoughts about the job we are doing.
This is taking our ego and putting it into the hands of our children. Since children are still LEARNING, they are bound to make many mistakes. Putting our ability to feel like a good mom into the hands of our children is a surefire way to feel inadequate and powerless.
It’s time we stop looking at our children’s behavior to determine whether we are good parents.
Can you think of someone who turned out to be a functioning member of society, accomplished and kind, but whose parents were a hot mess? I can think of MANY people who did an amazing job of overcoming their upbringing to create a brilliant life for themselves.
Can you think of someone who you look at and think, “She is a really good mom, but their kid is kind of a hot mess?” It could be someone you know, someone you read about, or someone famous. It is absolutely possible to admire the way someone parents their kid, while also seeing a struggling child having a difficult time with life.
I remember one time I was
sitting at the dinner table waiting for my 14 year old son to join me for dinner. I had picked up prime rib from our favorite steakhouse since it was just the two of us. The rest of the family doesn’t eat red meat so it’s a treat.I’m waiting for my teenage dining companion to finish up his video game and join me.
and I’m waiting….
and I’m waiting….
We have an agreement with the video games. He plays with his friends online and it messes up their scores if he doesn’t complete the game.
I could care less about this, but I understand he doesn’t want to upset his friends. We’ve agreed that if I let him finish his games, he will come down before starting any new ones, check in with me, and hand in all technology by 9:00pm. This agreement evolved after lots of frustration and a few blow-ups on my part. Tonight, as I sit by myself watching this beautiful prime rib dinner get cold, my doubts creep in like a familiar shadow whispering, “You're not doing a good enough job as a Mom.”
As much self-coaching as I have done, this “not doing enough” voice has been a tough one to shake. The old me would have exploded in a rage-filled fit so that my son would feel as awful as I do. You see, I like to be right, so if I think I’m not a good enough Mom, I act like it.
For some funny reason, he has asked me to find a different way of coping with my frustrations and I have obliged. So instead, I sit there thinking, “How do I know if I’m a good mom?”
I think it is disrespectful to keep someone waiting and let the food get cold. It feels like my son is putting video games before his mother, who is just trying to feed him. These thoughts make me feel resentful, righteous, powerless. I don’t like feeling like a victim, so I explore other thoughts to interpret this situation.
If his food is cold, he’s the only one who suffers, letting him suffer natural consequences sounds like good parenting. It’s not like I’m missing out on inspiring dinner conversation, he’s a mumbling teenage boy who talks with his mouth full and wolfs dinner down in 5 minutes. This feels better, but it’s still not getting to the core issue.
What’s really bothering me is that I don’t know what a good mom would do. I can’t think of anything I want more in my life than to be a good mom, so it drives me crazy when I don’t have an answer. The reason I can’t find a good answer is because “How do I know if I’m good enough?” is not a good question.
There is no final parenting destination, no parenting report card, no judgmental “mother in the sky.” The good parenting/bad parenting dichotomy doesn’t exist. It’s a construct of a perfectionistic mind (probably implanted by advertising companies that tap into our insecurities so we’ll buy their products to feel like good enough moms).
So as I sit there, enjoying my delicious dinner, by myself, I choose to find something else to focus on. Instead of asking, “Am I good enough” I focus on Love.
I love that I have a great relationship with my teenage son.
I love that we can resolve conflicts with compromise and peace.
I love that I feed my son delicious food.
I love that I care so much about being a good Mom.
I love that he can connect with his friends without me having to drive him anywhere.
I love that he has people who share his love of games.
I love that I can enjoy this dinner with or without him.
I finished my dinner and left his full and beautiful plate on the table, letting it be his problem if it gets cold.
Ten minutes later I threw a screaming, crying fit. Not because my son never came down to eat. Not because I’m not a good enough Mom. But because my tiny 10 lb. dog climbed on top of the table and ate his entire 12oz prime rib.
I felt so much better after crying, screaming, and getting mad at the dog. Maybe it’s easier to let in the love after we’ve gotten rid of the yuck.
I love that I’m not the only one who gets exhausted trying to do everything right and good. I love that my son got to experience natural consequences without experiencing my inner turmoil. I love that other Moms get it and have my back. I love that life coaching helps me choose how I want to think, feel and act.
I love that I’m giving my dog the silent treatment and she doesn’t even know it.
Supermom Kryptonite - Asking a high quality question
I know this is what the whole blog is about but I couldn’t end without reiterating how toxic this question is, even though every person I’ve ever met has asked it. It could be triggered by many things: the number on the scale, the amount of money in the bank, the amount of vegetables our kids eat, what college our son attends, you name it, and we will use it as evidence to prove we are inadequate and unworthy of love and belonging.
Instead of asking yourself this toxic question, ask yourself something that feels good. Was I adequate today? Am I trying to learn and grow? What is my impatience trying to teach me? How can I be more relaxed while at home with my kids?
Heidi says she wants to be more patient and kind. The fact that she has this desire indicates that her nature is to be patient and kind. How about asking “What is blocking me from being patient and kind that needs my attention?” or “What can I do to let the yuck out so that I can access my gratitude?”
Everyone wakes up with a question in their mind. Make sure you are asking yourself a question that leads to a good answer.
Supermom Power Boost - How I feel is the most important thing.
Being a caring, sensitive, people-pleaser this statement felt sacrilegious. When I discovered this thought, I felt naughty and selfish, like I was breaking some sort of cultural rule. But the more I thought it through, the more accurate it seemed to be.
When I feel calm, I parent in a way I admire. When I feel content, everyone around me feels content, too. Emotions are contagious. Instead of trying to make my kids happy (which never lasted long), I could focus on my own happiness, something I actually had control over. Then my kids could enjoy the gift of a happy, fulfilled mom, while also enjoying a home filled with joy.
It’s not like I’m trying to be happy all the time. Sometimes I want to feel mad (like when my dog ate my son’s prime rib dinner). Sometimes I want to feel disappointed (like when I got COVID right before a trip).
But deciding that how I feel is the most important thing puts my focus on something I have control over that benefits everyone around me.
Quote of The Day:
“The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you're enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect." Brene Brown