You might be the worst mom ever.
How could you let him play Minecraft that long?
Did you even think about what vegetable to serve for dinner tonight?
He can’t have that much sugar. Why did you say yes to the candy bar? You’re choosing easy over what is right, again.
Why didn’t you sign him up for the social skills class sooner? How is he going to get along in the world?
You let him play outside without finishing phonics. He is never going to learn to read if you can’t be more disciplined.
They weren’t physical enough today. They need more exercise. You know the research about exercise and brain function. Why didn’t you do more?
These children are failing, and it’s your fault.
This. Yesterday. From 3:00 – 5:00 PM.
Two full hours of berating myself.
I caught myself thinking, “You might be the worst mom ever,” at about 4:30.
I actually stopped what I was doing (laundry, because of course) and I decided to write down all the things I had thought about myself and my mothering for the two-hour period between school and dinner.
I learned I am seriously taking myself out, every single day.
Worse yet, the more I think these things, the more anxious I become. The more anxious I become, the more I start to believe all the lies bouncing around in my head. The more I believe them, the more I start to take this fretful, negative spirit and project it onto the people I love the most.
I have written before about the lies that creep up, and that I tend to believe about being a “special needs” momma. And those still rear their ugly heads too.
But this is different. This is everyday, just getting through the day as a mom stuff.
After writing them all down, I was a little taken aback…
I am really, really mean to myself.
It’s like there is a wicked boss in my head that is never, ever satisfied and never retires.
When I was in fifth grade, we had a really difficult vocabulary test, and I didn’t study for it. I got a “D” on the test, and that meant my mom had to sign it, and return it to the teacher the next day.
I still remember the dread. I was beside myself, walking home from the bus stop that day.
I was sure that my failure would require punishment.
I was sure my failure would be held against me.
I was sure my failure would define me, both at school and at home.
When I gave her the paper, my mom looked at me and said,”Well, I know you don’t want to get this grade again. Are you going to study next time?” When I said yes, she signed it, handed it back to me and said, “OK. That’s good.”
And that was that.
I still remember it because I was stunned. I stood there and thought, “That’s it?”
I was relieved and grateful and committed to a better grade next time around – and I got an A on every vocabulary test for the rest of the year.
The moral of the story?
Grace motivates. It doesn’t exhaust. It doesn’t defeat. It doesn’t add weight. It inspires.
I know I strive to have grace for my husband, my boys, my friends and my family.
Why am I so afraid to have grace for myself?
I want to rewrite the script in my head. I want to believe things about myself that others accept as truth. I want to give myself a break. Not only for my exhausted and overextended heart, but for my children and my husband. I want them to have the best part of me. Not the downtrodden, self defeated, anxiety-ridden woman they too often see.
I find it far easier to be mean to myself than to give myself grace. And I have read enough of your comments to know many of you do too.
And I am writing this letter to the momma you are today, right this minute.
Because grace motivates, it heals, and it inspires.
Giving Ourselves Grace
You have had a rough couple of weeks.
Girl, the truth is, you have had a rough couple of years. And you are still here. You are still getting up every single day, looking for ways to care for these kiddos and love on your husband and hopefully do a little good in the world. You make meals and clean up messes and engage in endless conversations about reptiles and gardening and compost bins and Minecraft and microgreens and fermented foods. Most of the time, you even do these things with a smile.
You will mess up. Of course you will. You are not perfect. That’s how it works. And you know what? Your children will not be the sum of all your failures. YOU are not the sum of all your failures.
You have friends who are so good to you, a family who laughs with you, a husband who cares for you, and two little boys who clearly adore you. You are blessed. You are beyond blessed. You are loved.
The days when you are the meanest to yourself, are the days when you lose sight of this. When you get focused on what isn’t working, or what may not go well in the future, you lose sight of all the good that is happening right in front of you – right now. Right this second.
So go. Go snuggle that little one, and play Snap Circuits with the big one. Make dinner for the man that makes it all possible, and stop breaking your own heart.
P.S. While I am at it, may I just say you look great with your hair in an unwashed bun. And those loose, black yoga pants are straight awesome.