Are you ever too hard on yourself? as a wife? as a mom? Too hard on yourself in general? When asking myself this question I have to answer with, “yes”. I’m hard on myself and I know it, but I don’t really intend to cut myself some slack. I guess I figure I need to catch my mom/wife/human- abilities up to my exceedingly high and unrealistic expectations of the person I should be. Let’s focus just on the motherhood aspect of having zero grace for yourself because this is where it came to a head for me.
After my first was born (that’s my FIRST… the one I’m learning everything with, therefore, the situation in which I should have EXTRA grace for myself) I found I would come down hard on myself when I forgot to put a swaddle blanket in the diaper bag or when I apparently misread his cry. Small things that are just a part of life… I would beat myself up over these things! No mercy. No grace. There was no excuse that was good enough for myself.
Not only did I mistreat myself in my head but I would frequently say, “bad mom,” out loud. I said it often enough that my husband couldn’t take it anymore and gave me a talking-to that I needed. I was not only mentally hurting myself, but watching me abuse myself over not big things was hurting him as well. He reminded me that I’m human just like everyone else— I can’t remember to pack everything and anything that may possibly be needed every. single. time. I’m not going to respond to every situation flawlessly. This is life and we are people. And people are never going to reach perfection.
I needed to change my expectations of myself and set my goals to something much more realistic. For example, I would get really mad at myself for getting angry with my child over something that should have been merely a teaching moment. I would get upset about being angry because it stemmed from selfishness and I don’t want to be a selfish person. But guess what— I am a selfish person. So rather than believing that I can always keep from getting angry with my kids in silly situations, I need to know that I’m going to fail and I’m going to get angry; but rather than chalking it up to, “bad mom,” I need to turn that thinking around and apologize to my children and ask them for forgiveness. We need to focus less on the fact that we failed and more on what we do with the fail. When I do exactly that, I don’t feel like a bad mom anymore, I feel like that situation has been redeemed. And it’s such a beautiful thing.
Not only does it restore my heart but it leads my children by example, because my children will fail too. They’re going to fail when they’re not home for me to take them by the hand and tell them to apologize to the offended. Their automatic reaction in failures will be to do what they see and know in their home. So lead by example! Do you want your child to wallow in everything they’re not or do you want them to make right their mess-ups? When you blow it, apologize. When you forget to bring something that is needed, get creative and teach your kids problem solving on the fly! When you forget to pack a snack, your child is learning about delayed gratification.
After my discussion with my husband I committed to stop saying, “bad mom,” out loud, and when I quit saying it out loud saying it in my mind faded too (that one was a little harder to kick, but I did it). I still struggle with unrealistic expectations for myself, but I’m aware of it now and I’m working on giving myself achievable goals and more grace because I know that I am doing my best. Some days ‘my best’ scores a better performance than it does on other days, but I am choosing to embrace self-love and lead by a messy, beautiful example.