Today I realized something about myself. I have become “That Mom.” You know, the mom that you quietly whisper about at social functions. The one you secretly try to figure out what is going on in “HER” house because her life isn’t so Instagram worthy these days. The one that has to be doing something terribly wrong because her kids did ___________ (fill in the blank). You know, the one who acts like everything is fine, but sometimes you see the sadness in her eyes and you wonder…. just wonder… where she went wrong.
“That Mom” – the mom who worries constantly about her kids, but can’t show it because then everyone “would know” they aren’t perfect. The mom who is struggling to figure out how to raise kids in a world that is becoming increasingly self-centered and still fit in with society. “That Mom” who is trying desperately to hold it together, but realizing that enough is, well, enough.
Yeah, I am “That Mom.” We are “That Family.” We are the ones that our social group is now looking at saying, “Where did they go wrong?” And, it’s because we are learning that sometimes “tough love” is tougher for us than for our kids. We aren’t fitting into the little bubble society has created that makes us feel safe because we are all alike and our kids are checking off all the boxes on the “checklist for success.” I am “That Mom” who feels like a hypocrite some days, but is struggling with each parenting decision. Will she make the right decision? Will she say the wrong thing? Will her kids turn out ok?
Why am I telling you this? Well, because sometimes you can do everything right and it turns out wrong. And, sometimes you can do some things right and it turns out wrong. Because it’s important to realize that you are more than your children. Oh, wow, did I step on some toes there? Well, here I’ll say it again.
You. Are. More. Than. Your. Children.
You were once a woman. A woman who had dreams and desires and ambitions. You were once a woman who wanted to conquer the world or at least have joy and fulfillment in it. You were going to have this great life. And, for the most part, you did. You had kids and they are the joy of your life. You dote on them. You love them. You shower them with attention. You are proud of their accomplishments. You cheer for them. You praise them. And, sometimes you yell at them. Sometimes you aren’t the best parent and you are ashamed of your actions. But, you get up the next day promising yourself and your kids that you will be a better mom than you were yesterday.
Then one day, your kids develop their own personalities. They are similar to you and also different. Hormones make their way into your sweet family and all of a sudden smart mouths and irritability become a staple in your home. Some days your kids open up and share their thoughts and dreams. Other days they slam their bedroom door if you ask them how their day was. Each day becomes a new learning experience in parenting. What battles do I fight? How do I make sure they know I love them while also trying to raise them to be responsible people?
There’s a fine line there. You ask any parenting support group, expert, counselor, you name it, and you are going to get different answers on what defines a good parent and when do we cross the line and cause our kids to be on Dr. Phil one day. I’m here to tell you that there is no such thing as a definition of a good parent. A good parent to one kid is a horrible parent to the next.
I have three different kids with three different personalities. What I say to one goes in one ear and out the other while another obsesses about everything I say. Trying to navigate the parenting waters while also trying to keep from drowning is sometimes more than I can take. (It’s why I eat so much chocolate.)
So, how did I become “That Mom?” Well, because I drew a line in the sand. I finally decided enough was enough. I can love my kids and they can hate me. It’s not how I want it, but sometimes it is what it is. Everything I’ve done as a parent has been because I love my kids and want the very best for them. That’s why we discipline our kids. They can’t go out in life thinking it’s ok to be inconsiderate, rude and selfish. There have to be limits. There have to be consequences.
And, I am more than my children.
If our kids are selfish, it doesn’t mean we’re selfish. If our kids are jerks, it doesn’t mean we were jerks to them their whole lives. Because kids are people. They have their own personalities. Their own quirks. And, most definitely, their own attitudes.
It doesn’t make us bad moms. Honestly, it doesn’t mean we’re good moms either. Sometimes, kids are who they are. We are not responsible for every behavior they have. Not the good, and certainly not the bad.
But, here’s the problem. If we embed ourselves into their lives and take on their accomplishments as our accomplishments, then it stands to reason that we’re going to take on their failures as our failures. We can be proud of our kids. They worked hard for the goals they achieve. We need to let them have those successes without appropriating them to ourselves, because when they fail our worlds fall apart. When they don’t act like the responsible, kind, and considerate people we raised them to be, then we are now to blame. We are too wrapped up in being everything to our children. And, that’s just wrong.
We are more than our children.
I work and love and dream and teach and aspire to be more than I am. I do great things and make huge mistakes. I appreciate and I undervalue. I am a great parent and sometimes I really suck at it. I am “That Mom” – a mom who loves her children deeply even when they vow they do not love her back. A mom who smiles even when her heart is breaking. I am “That Mom” who cries at night worrying about her kids and praying they will be the people God wants them to be.
We are “That Mom” and we’re struggling to keep it together some days. We are “That Mom” and we didn’t do anything horrible to our kids – we don’t deserve to feel shame. We are just “That Mom” trying to get through today because tomorrow is going to be better.
So, the next time you see “That Mom,” remember that she is all of us. She’s a mom who loves and hurts and just wants what is best for her kids.