I was watching an episode of House (you know…jerky vicodin addicted diagnostician?) and Lisa Cuddy (head of the hospital) had just finished her home visit to approve her for being a foster parent. Wilson comes over to offer his congratulations for getting approved and Cuddy is upset. Why? Because the sitter had called in sick and the house was a mess, the baby was fussy, and she stuffed a diaper into her expensive briefcase as a last minute panicked effort to clean up when the social worker showed up.
Wilson asked why she was upset. Her response, “Because I may have passed, but I only passed by their meager standards.” Wilson’s response is, “Why do women always do that?” She’d been approved as a good parent and approved as a foster parent, but she wasn’t satisfied because she’d met the state’s standards, but not her own.
So why do women do that? Don’t lie, you know we all do it. Gosh, I have days where I just sit and wallow about how terrible of a mom I am — it’s ridiculous. I can have three different people tell me how great of a mom I am, but if I make one mistake I feel like the worst parent ever. I’ve posted about this before I’m sure, but it’s something so real in our daily lives that it deserves to be posted about again.
So here are a few things that have caused me to feel like a failed mom in the past few weeks:
- Josiah has been complaining about not liking his new teacher (me, since we homeschool) and says he wants to go back to his old school.
- I didn’t play a game or watch a movie with Josiah every day.
- Josiah and Samuel both got sunburned at the lake because I messed up when I made our homemade sunscreen. Jimmi and I got scorched — as in I’ve got blisters on my arms and Jimmi has blisters on his face.
- While camping, we left one of the tent windows open and it rained so all of my stuff got wet. As a result of the wet stuff and my excruciating sunburn, Jimmi and I came home for the night and left Josiah camping with his grandparents. Jimmi went back this morning, but I stayed home instead.
- There have been days, when despite the fact that Josiah will be finishing Kindergarten when his peers start Kindergarten in the fall, that I push Josiah too hard.
- My patience has been thin and I’ve lost my temper with Josiah (and my husband) a few times. I’ve even lost my patience with Samuel.
Wow. I’m a terrible mom right? (Insert sarcastic voice). So here’s the explanation behind the stupidity of my self-loathing acts listed above. The reason Josiah complained about not liking his new teacher (me) and wanting to go back to school is because he misses being social. Before we start on the “homeschooling is bad because of lack of socialization” bandwagon hear me out. It is summer time. Soccer is done until late-summer early fall, Trail Life USA (Baptist version of boyscouts) doesn’t start until fall, basketball doesn’t start until fall, since I don’t have a car and Jimmi is working 2nd shift I can’t take Josiah to church on Wednesday nights so most of his “socialization” is on hold until fall. He does get together with kids at church on Sunday, we do go to the library functions with other kids, and he will be going to VBS. He just doesn’t understand the concept of things being on hold during the summer. He actually had a revelation the other day when he realized that you can make friends without going to school. He made a few friends at the lake and excitedly explained to me how awesome it was that he made friends at the lake and that he really did like homeschooling because he knows now that he can make friends outside of school (awesome moment).
Next explanation. For some reason, I feel like as a stay-at-home mom if I don’t play a game or sit down and watch a movie with Josiah every day that I’m neglecting him. I tend to ignore the fact that we spend time together doing school work every morning, we eat at least one meal together every day (sometimes I let Josiah eat and watch TV…don’t judge me), and we read together most days. We also go to the library together once a week and take walks together at least once a week. We also have conversations with each other (his conversation skills are slightly advanced for a 5-year-old). The biggest thing about me staying at home is that I’m available to Josiah whenever he needs me or wants me 24/7. Most of the time when I ask if he wants to sit and watch a movie or read a book or play a game he tells me no that he wants to do his own thing. I have always wanted him to be able to entertain himself and yet play well with others. He’s fantastic at both. He can entertain himself for hours without me ever hearing from him, but he flourishes when he’s got someone to play with. Josiah knows I love him and love spending time with him. Most of the time when he asks me to read to him or play a game with him or asks to sleep in my room I say yes.
OK, so the camping fiasco. The first day in the water at the lake I used my new Young Living Essential Oils natural sunscreen that I made. I’d used this a few times and it had worked great. After an afternoon in the sun, Josiah was slightly sunburned, Samuel had a slight burn on his face and arms, and Jimmi and I were scorched. I felt terrible because Josiah and Samuel got burned. I feel miserable because I’m blistered and in a lot of pain (unless I’m sitting perfectly still and as long as I’m not wearing anything except a very large, light t-shirt). I couldn’t believe I let the kids get burned. I was so miserable that I was ready to come home. I didn’t sleep well Wednesday night because Samuel was having a rough time with the heat and different atmosphere of camping (and he’s teething). Thursday night I didn’t sleep well because I was miserable due to the sunburn and even more miserable because my muscles felt like they were on fire from having to carry Samuel around most of the day.
Friday afternoon it rained in our tent, getting my stuff wet. So Jimmi and I decided to leave Josiah at the campsite with the grandparents and come home for the night and planned to return today. The problem being that I didn’t want to go back today. Last night I cried because I felt like a failed mom because I wanted to come home from Josiah’s birthday camping trip because I was miserable and Samuel was miserable. I felt even more miserable because I didn’t want to go back and felt like I was abandoning Josiah on his special weekend. Here’s the thing: I could not have prevented the kids (or us) from getting sunburned. In an effort to avoid poisoning their bodies with commercial sunscreen I made a mistake in the homemade sunscreen process and didn’t make it waterproof. I had no way of knowing that ahead of time. I made a mistake. Also, Josiah wasn’t concerned at all that we were coming home last night because he got to spend the night in the camper with his grandparents. Jimmi text me earlier and said Josiah didn’t even ask about why I wasn’t there today (not sure if I’m supposed to be offended or not?). Jimmi and Josiah got to spend some quality father/son time together on the fishing boat today — I didn’t have to be there and it may have been better that I wasn’t. I don’t have to be in Josiah’s presence every second for Josiah to know I love him. He knows it. I tell him often and I show him more often than that.
Back to homeschooling. Josiah will be starting 1st grade sometime this fall — he’s an entire year ahead of his “class” because he’s homeschooled. Since he is homeschooled and I spend 24 hours a day with him, I know his potential and sometimes I push too hard. Typically I catch myself and when I do I try and make sure to apologize to him. I feel terrible because my child is a year ahead, yet I get frustrated when he goofs off during school time and all the sudden “forgets” everything that I know he knows. I’ve been A LOT better about this over the past few weeks, but I still feel bad about the past despite the fact that I’ve been forgiven and it’s done.
My biggest challenge over the past few months has been my attitude and my lack of patience with everything. Since Samuel has been born, aside from the obvious hormonal issues and the life changes of quitting my job, having a baby, and homeschooling, we’ve had financial issues due to Jimmi’s job instability (which is in the process of being worked out by God and we’re seeing the progress). All of these changes, especially the hormonal changes (pregnancy hormones leaving, still hormonal because I’m breastfeeding and being on birth control again) and lack of sleep, has resulted in my patience level going down and my frustration level going up. I’ve started to see this and I’ve been praying my way through this, but I’ve got to be very careful because I don’t want to be short with my family.
Joyce Meyer teaches that feelings lie. And they do. I “feel” like I’m a terrible mom, but the truth is I’m not. Josiah may or may not remember that I let him get sunburned, that I left his birthday camping trip early, or that I lost my cool with him a few times over the years, but he knows I love him and would do anything for him. He will look back and know that because Jimmi and I love him we made the decision for me to stay home with him and homeschool him. He won’t remember that I didn’t play games or watch movies with him EVERY DAY — he will remember that I spent time with him.
I am not a bad mom — most people would say that I’m an excellent mom (at least that’s what they’ve told me). I just have to remember that the devil lies and wants me to be down on myself. I have to look in the mirror and remind myself that my feelings are connected to my emotions and emotions cannot be trusted because they’re based on the moment not the big picture. I’m not a perfect mom, but I am a good mom and I am the mom that God chose for Josiah and Samuel.
You are not a perfect mom, but you are a good mom because you’re doing the best you know how with the situation you have. God chose you to be the mom to the children you have. Just remember that for the “rainy days” of mommyhood.