First, two quotes that had a tremendous impact on me in my motherhood journey:
“I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the home. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a mother, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.” -Dr. Ginnott
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” -John Steinbeck
We have had some rough days around our home over the last few weeks. Lots of stress and many unfinished things are contributing factors, as are big changes (starting school, for instance) for some beautiful kids who have a hard time with big changes (which is not unusual for children who have been in foster care).
I have realized something, though, and continue to realize it at different intervals in mothering after I inevitably forget it for a while: I am the decisive element. Bad days escalate because I allow them to. Moods don’t improve because I let my own become affected by the slightest upset.
Before our kids came home, I thought I would be just the most perfect mother. I should be embarrassed to admit that, but there it is. Being a mother was all I had wanted for so long, so of course it would always come easily! Of course my children would always listen to me because why wouldn’t they? I’m great at this! Of course my home would always be tidy and well decorated and reflect the perfect little family housed within!
Guess what I found out?
My kids will not be perfect. My house will not be perfect. I will certainly never be perfect.
Even more difficult to swallow, my grumpiness over said imperfection doesn’t make me feel any better. Weird.
Yes, I found out that motherhood is hard, even when your kids are hard fought and sought after and oh, so desperately wished for. It’s still hard, and it’s beautiful, and it’s messy sometimes, and it’s never perfect.
I’ve also found out that trying to be perfect is a surefire way to turn a blue-skies day in our home into a storm.
But embracing that lack of perfection, rather than letting it distract me from all the beauty that is my life is what makes for beautiful moments in motherhood.
Flying a kite and getting it stuck in a tree, where we can watch the streamers dance in the wind from season to season. Or making sculptures with packing peanuts that fall apart and get spread all around the house almost instantly. Being fully, truly in the moment with my kids while they are young enough to really want me there, no matter what the day may bring.
Biology told me I couldn’t be a mother, and yet through miracle after miracle, here I am. I have been given the chance to be their mom and to help them through those big changes and watch the kite in the tree.
My kids don’t need a perfect mom. They certainly don’t need a mom so caught up in the quest for perfection that she forgets to remember what is really important.
They need a good mom. A mom who expects (and teaches) them to be good–not perfect.
I am trying to be that mom.