Despite my perspective I fell prey to feeling the pressures to do everything "right". I was always second guessing my choices. Should my toddler be in dance? Should I make sure to teach her how to read by 3? What if he isn't talking as well as the other kids? (and other ridiculous things)What am I doing wrong became the overwhelming question instead of What am I doing right? We are our own worst critic!
I was also feeling the pressure to be a woman, who if not working outside the home, must do all things perfect at home. After all I was home ALL DAY my house should look like a show room, right? On days when the laundry was overflowing and all I could do was keep up the diaper changes between feedings,this made me feel less than successful.
All the messages sent to moms, especially mom's of young children to do everything perfect can influence even the most independent thinkers among us. At one point in my mothering I was taking college classes, selling home decor (which meant doing home parties), volunteering in church plays and choirs, caring for our soon to be two year old, all while growing our second child in my body! I think I had lost my mind! I was twenty-something and could do it all! Maybe that's where you find yourself...trying to do it all and feeling like you are falling short of it all. Here are some tips from this not so old, but semi-retired mommy (my baby just graduated-but I'm only 40).
Mothers, may I offer a few tips? There are thousands, but I offer just a handful for mommies with children under five.
Don't believe the lies! The devil started the lie in the garden with the woman and still perpetuates lies on unsuspecting women everywhere. These lies are seemingly innocent but they can plant seeds of doubt and disgruntled living in the heart of your home. Lies like: I'm not good enough, I'm not perfect, I'm not-fill in the blank. Face it, you aren't perfect! You can't be all things to all people but you can be the best person God made you to be. If you are loving at full capacity and running your home with all your heart, mind and strength. Rest in that. Be thankful for all the crazy you may have humming around your home. It is only a season.
Your children are not a perfect reflection of you. You are responsible for making sure they are cared for and you should discipline them but all your efforts will not stop their sinful hearts from being, well, sinful. When your little one falls to the ground screaming like they are the town maniac don't get angry or embarrassed at yourself. Calmly take your child to a secure location and deal with the crazy threat in a calm way. You don't have to feel like your child has just shattered your reputation. Your child is an individual-not a part of your body.
Teach them to love others by serving others as soon as possible. I felt so much pressure to teach them to write their names, count, say their ABC's. The list of what you "need" to teach your children changes with the times and with the opinions of the people who are in your life. I was always wondering if I was doing enough. Honestly, if I could go back and teach them more things when they were little I would use that time to teach them to love others well through more service. I'm not talking about church activities but about going to your neighbors or family members who need extra help. Teach your children to be Jesus to others. Just the presence of a small child can give life to an aging grandparent. We often get so busy in doing activities that are seen, let's teach our littles that activities that are unseen are rewarded in heaven and are much more heart changing.
Don't feel like you will never be you again. I remember a friend asking me after the birth of her first baby, when she would ever read a book again. Now she is teaching again and is a successful writer. Another friend had told me that soon after she had decided to leave her firm (where she was going to make partner) to stay home with her baby, she found herself contemplating her life over Mr. Clean and the toilet bowl. Who are you? Well, you are the creative spirit who can do a million things well, but sometimes not all at the same time. Give yourself a break! You can work on all those goals, but they may not come into full swing until your babies are in school. So don't beat yourself up! Share your unique interest and talents with your toddlers. I love to write, when the kids were really small I would make up creative stories for them. Whatever your gift, find a way to grow it, not stress over it because it will feed your soul and you will be a better mommy.
Enjoy the moments. Remember how I said I was a young mom with an old soul? Despite the pressure of trying to be perfect, my heart always rejoiced at the fact that I had children! I had survived cancer and had friends still fighting cancer so the small events in life were so precious-are so precious to me. Playing light bright, reading, pretending, taking time to play and not be busy with all the stuff that could wait til tomorrow is something I will never regret. I think sometimes people may have wondered how a girl who'd done so well in school and had been assumed to go on to medical school or another exciting career, could find satisfaction in "just" being at home. To me it has never been "just", it was a privilege. Life is priceless and you will never regret investing in those little people who have eternal value.
Finally, after you have wiped bottoms, table tops, walls, stopped your toddlers from causing themselves bodily harm multiple times a day, remember: "In whatever you do, do all things to the glory of God." Jesus said that if you give a glass of water in His name, you have given it to Him. Just the small acts on earth, done with a loving heart, are eternity changing. I am not sure how that all plays out in the economy of heaven, but I know that God sees all you are doing. Hang in there mommies! You are doing great things! By the way, those babies really do grow up-you will sleep again!