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The house is totally quiet.
My husband and 3-year old daughter are taking afternoon naps and a light rain has started to fall against the windows. As I scoot my chair up to the kitchen table and cradle a warm cup of hot tea, a lump forms in my throat and I have to wipe away a few tears from the corner of my eyes. There is nothing extraordinary about this moment, except that it is quiet. The morning was nice and relaxing and uneventful. My daughter and I snuggled in bed and then got up to make eggs for breakfast. My husband played a few games with her after breakfast and then we spent the rest of the morning doing crafts, building Lego towers, and giggling.
At some point, I snapped a photo and posted it to Instagram and Facebook. Then, about 10 minutes later a well-meaning friend commented, ‘You are such a great Mom!’
I don’t feel like a great Mom. I don’t even feel like a good Mom.
I feel like a fraud.
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As a Mom, I worry about all the ways I am screwing it up.
- I always forget to clip her fingernails.
- We hardly ever eat dinner at the table anymore.
- We read too much Everybody Poops and not enough stories from the children’s Bible.
- She saw me and my husband argue. As an only child, she sees most of our arguments. That makes me cringe.
I could go on, but you get the point. Maybe you have your own list. If you are a Mom, you probably do.
How we perceive ourselves
The thing is, there is a huge disconnect between how we are perceived by others and how we perceive ourselves. That disconnect is where feelings of inadequacy creep in and threaten to destroy our joy. That disconnect is what had me crying in my tea at the kitchen table.
On the outside, the world sees snapshots of lovely moments. Smile for the camera! Show me what you made! Tell me how great your life is!
But every Mom knows that the moment the flash goes off, the face relaxes and we are reminded of reality. We are reminded of the pile of dishes in the sink, the hole in the toe of the tennis shoe, the birthday card we forgot to mail. We recognize the mundane moments of ordinary triumph and ordinary failure. We know we are doing some things right, but every Mom worries about all the things we could be doing better.
A community of encouragement
So, how about this? Amidst criticism that social media is merely an acrid echo chamber, why don’t we use it to build a community of encouragement? Why not choose to build each other up? We don’t need any reminders of our failures. But wow, what if we caught regular glimpses of the way others view us? What if we shut down the negative inner monologue that shouts our inadequacies and instead were reminded of all the ways we do get it right every day.
Because no Mom is ‘good.’ No Mom is ‘perfect.’ But every Mom is ‘good enough’ and every Mom is perfect for the children they were blessed with. Let’s make you a deal. Please don’t stop telling me I’m a good Mom, and I won’t stop telling you you’re a good Mom either.
A fresh perspective
Eventually, the quiet of the afternoon rain was interrupted by the pitter patter of little feet and requests for a snack and another craft. I realized in that moment that my worries don’t tell the entire story.
- We don’t eat dinner at the table because it is usually covered in art projects that are drying.
- Our daughter may see us argue, but she also sees us fighting fairly and making up afterwards.
- And seriously, Everybody Poops is a classic.
I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself either.
You are not a fraud. You’re a Mom, and you are human.
That being said, I need to find those nail clippers!
Thanks for reading,