Sunday, March 17, 2013

No more perfect moms

Image taken from

I attended the Hearts at Home conference at Illinois State University this past Friday. Any day that begins before 5 AM makes me automatically grumpy, but driving over the prairie to Normal, IL while watching the sun come up made it a bit easier. And it didn't hurt that I was in a car full of fun ladies from my MOPS group.

This was my first time at the conference, so I had few expectations. Just getting away for the day was enough for me. But the keynote and breakout session speakers were outstanding. My mom cup was filled back up. I received words of encouragement that I am doing many things well and received practical suggestions to improve my weak areas.

The focus of this year's conference was No More Perfect Moms. This also happens to be a recent book title by Jill Savage, the founder of this event. She and the other speakers shared short anecdotes about embarrassing and funny things that have happened to them--the kinds of stories we only tell our closest girlfriends for fear of judgment. Stories about forgetting to pick up a child from practice, or absent-mindedly wearing a child's macaroni necklace out of the house, or getting dressed to run errands only to be asked by your kids, "why do you look so fancy?"

We all have those "funny" stories about how we were "one of those moms". And that's the point. What if we stopped judging ourselves and others about their worthiness as moms, wives, and women? What if we cut each other a little slack and instead gave grace? Motherhood is lonely enough without fearing judgment from our friends.

It's true that we're all just doing the best we can. But sometimes it's hard to admit it to ourselves and extend the same understanding to other moms. But we don't work for others. We don't work for our spouse, either. The only person we need to please is God.  As Jesus challenged the establishment, he also challenges us: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV)

If we can do as Jesus says, the rest will take care of itself.

So the next time your child lands in the ER for sticking a quarter up his nose, or your daughter walks out of the bathroom with a pantiliner on her forehead because she "needed a bigger Band-Aid", remember this: there are no perfect moms.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Just say yes

I read this blog entry this week. And it got me thinking.

So I began to count the number of times that I say no on an average day.  My friends, I give you an infographic:

Wednesday's no grand total: 23.

Let me break those 23 nos down.

3 were for reasons of general safety/avoidance of great bodily harm, as in "No, you may not climb on top of the dishwasher to reach the top shelf of the pantry", or, "No, the dog is not a small horse", or my personal favorite, "No thank you, I can put the sharp kitchen knives away myself."

3 were related to acts that were destined to make a mess, such as pulling out the glitter glue, a 50 piece puzzle, or "helping" mommy roll out pastry dough.

2 were for instructional purposes, such as "No, it's not polite to pick one's nose in public"' or "No, we should not comment on a stranger's appearance, even if it does look like he/she got struck by lightening".

One was just because I'm the mom, that's why.

14 were because I was busy and couldn't be bothered with one. more. demand. right. this. minute.

Can you guess which category bothers me most?

Sometimes I say no because I'm texting/reading/blogging/emailing and need a few minutes to focus.  I know, it's important for kids to learn to wait until a parent is finished with a task before asking for something, but when I really look at the numbers, I see a bigger problem.  Telling my kids 14 times a day that I don't have time for them is not OK.

And really, what's the worst thing that can happen with glitter glue?

I was reminded about my earlier post about French parenting.  French parents rarely say no.  That's because they set up some general guidelines but give their kids autonomy within those guidelines.  French children don't get to do anything they want, but they get to do things provided they can do it independently, as in getting the materials, completing the activity, and cleaning up after themselves.

It's my goal to raise smart, independent, lifelong learners.  But how can I do that if I don't let them get a little dirty every now and again?  How will they learn to pick up after themselves if I don't teach them?  How will they learn how fun it is to make homemade pop tarts if I don't let them help roll out the dough and get covered in flour?  I want to girls to learn natural consequences now, when the stakes are low, so that we can avoid bigger problems as they mature.

I want to say yes more.  I want to enjoy time with my kids.  I need to stop taking myself so seriously.

Are you a no, or a yes?