For a better life, Inspiration, parenthood

How to be a good mom

Today I’m going to speak to all the mamas out there.

You are doing a tough job. I know, I’ve been there. If it’s been a while since someone told you, you are doing great. Your shifts are long and physically and emotionally demanding. If you have a “difficult” child, that is a heavy burden to bare. And if you aren’t the mom of a “difficult” child, don’t feel guilty about it. Your time will come.

You shouldn’t need anyone to tell you good job in order to feel good about yourself. You should tell yourself! Remembering to do that can be difficult too. But it can be life changing if you let it.

Giving yourself positive feedback requires you to know what it means to do a good job. Stop reading and grab a piece of paper and whatever writing utensil you can find.

Now write down everything you think it takes to be a “good” mom.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

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Parenting is an uphill climb.

Now look at your list and cross out anything that is not 100% within your control. Things like “my kids are obedient” or “my kids do their chores” or “my kids eat their dinner,” are all out. These things are not 100% within your control (and these are just a few examples!), therefore they cannot define what it means to be a good mom for you.

Think about it: you could be the absolute best mom in the world by anyone’s standard, but your kids might still choose things that make you sad or angry. You could be the best mom in the world by everyone else’s standard and your kids, husband, etc, could turn out fabulous. But what they do is not dependent on YOU; it’s depends on THEM.

So in order to define what a “good mom” is, you have to think about how YOU want to show up in the world, regardless of how others show up. Do you want to be happy? Do you want to offer a nutritious dinner? Do you want to enforce a strict bedtime routine? Do you want to feed your own soul? Do you want to sew all the family’s clothes? Do you want to chauffeur everyone safely to 15 activities a week? And be on time to each one? Do you want to offer your love to your children? Do you want to do everything possible to keep everyone alive? Do you want to provide for the family? These are things that are within your control. If you do them, it is your own recipe to “good momhood.”

I’m guessing there was very little left on your list after you crossed things out. If not, great job! If so, add a few things to your list (that are within your control) and then do them every day. If you fall short, learn from your mistakes and carry on. And when you do them, tell yourself Great Job!

There is either succeed or learn. There is no fail.

 

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Baby-making years, Inspiration

Beware of the victim in your story

Were you successful at defining success for yourself?

Did you keep thinking about reasons why you can’t be successful?

Not enough time? Too tired? People in your life holding you back?

Beware of making yourself into a victim. What story are you telling yourself about your life? There is always another version you can tell.

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I lived for years being unhappy and unsuccessful. At least I didn’t feel happy or successful. I had these kids around me who needed me and wanted my attention. And you know what? That was my dream. All I ever wanted was to be a mom.

Until I got there.

Then I wanted something else. I wanted kids who cleaned up after themselves. I wanted appreciation. I wanted recognition for all the hard work I was doing. I wanted someone else to make dinner and wash the dishes. I wanted a night out. I wanted to just be able to sit down and read a novel!

The grass is always greener….

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“I’ll never be a good mom because I don’t like to play with my kids.” “I am not as good as So-and-so because I am just not patient. I can’t be patient when I have kids that act like this.” “My kids will need years of therapy because I am ruining them already. Why can’t I stop yelling at them?”

Poor me. When you are the result of your circumstance, then you are like a victim. Powerless to defend yourself.

Change your story.

“I don’t like to play with my kids, but that’s ok because I teach them how to get creative when they are bored.” “I am learning how to be patient and having kids is the perfect way to learn that quality!” “I inherited the bad habit of yelling from my parents, and I am trying to not pass it down to my kids. But sometimes we have fun being loud when we turn the music up and dance in the kitchen.”

As I have said before, the story you tell yourself is powerful. Use kind words. Look for the positive. And never forget that you still have the power to change your story, even in mid-sentence.

College years, Inspiration, Refection

Tragedy and treasure

When I went to college in the fall of 1998, I was not looking for love. In fact, I was engaged to my high school sweetheart whom I had been dating for over three years. I was at college to work hard, study long and get my degree.

But then I met someone. My first impressions of him weren’t that great, but as I got to know him I liked him more and more. At one point I called my dad and he talked to this guy (who I wasn’t even dating yet) and my dad told me, “You’re gonna marry that guy.” I thought he was crazy.

I ended up breaking up with my fiancé, because my feelings were just so confusing. I started dating this other guy and really, the rest is history. We both lived in the dorms (that’s how we met) and when it came time to move out for summer, we moved in together. He was going to go visit his high school friends for the summer, but then I said “How about we move in together?” And he agreed.

Things were great. We both worked hard to pay the rent and all the bills. We spent all our non-working time together. He met my parents and my sisters, making the five hour drive over the Cascade mountains with me.

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For my New Year resolution in 2000 (new year, new millennium!) I wanted to start going to church. I had stopped attending church regularly about five years before then, but I had always felt guilty about it. He decided to go with me. I thought this was really strange, since guys didn’t like church, or so it seemed to me. He actually went first. I have always struggled with getting up early, so he went without me one week. He came home an hour later talking about how neat it was. After that, we went together and the missionaries started teaching him.

We were getting integrated into the church family when tragedy struck. We were actually on a road trip to see his family in California before school started back up again in the fall of 2000, when I received a call that my mother was in critical condition after a car accident. My sister and I would be the executors of the estate, so we needed to get there as soon as possible.

In the middle of the night, with the help of his aunt and uncle, we left our truck in California and flew to Spokane via Seattle. There are snippets of memory left about this time, but I remember so little. My world had been hit with the first real earthquake it would know. I do remember as we were driving into Spokane from the airport that it was all sunny except for one rain cloud over Spokane. I thought the heavens were weeping for my mom.

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Me, my Mom, my sister. Circa 1984

My mom did pass away after my sister and I, in conference with our family, decided to take her off life support. It was a lot for a barely- 20 year old to handle. Funeral decisions, going through her possessions, closing bank accounts and other personal things. All while my family was hurting and feuding amongst each other.

This guy, who would become my husband a year later, was there. He didn’t shy away. He didn’t hang back. He was my rock and my soft place. When my head was full of tears, his was thinking straight.

After three weeks away from Seattle, I needed to return to start my next quarter of school. And honestly it was a relief. Just school and work and regular life was a better alternative to the grief I was trying to process. I do remember not being myself and crying so easily.

This experience easily could have driven us apart. We weren’t even married. This ugly, vulnerable side of me could have scared him off. But it didn’t. What is it they say? What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This was so true for us back then and it remains so to this day.

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Celebrating our 15th anniversary in 2016

Some of our family asked why get married so young? Why not wait? But we had already been together for 2.5 years and we knew it was right for us. We got home from our honeymoon to Oahu, Hawaii late on September 10th, 2001. We woke to a phone call asking if we were ok. “Why wouldn’t we be?” “Turn on the TV.”

While thousands of personal tragedies were underway as the world watched, we had just begun our marriage together. We had already dealt with personal tragedy, and we did it together, coming out stronger on the other side. We still choose to allow the disappointments and hurt in our lives to bind us closer instead of splitting us apart. That is the best part of my marriage: it is built on a sure foundation of trust and love.

 

So on this September 11th, I remember how tragedy can turn to treasure if you let it.

Background

Happy Birthday Mama

I thought I would be morose today. It’s my mom’s birthday. She would have been 54 years old. And she has been gone for almost seventeen years.

My mother-in-law is also gone as of nine years ago. And her birthday was three days ago. And yesterday was Mother’s Day.

Yeah, mid-May has been a tough time time of year for me.

But today I woke up and felt… good. For the first time in a long time. I am considering it a birthday gift from my Mama. Even though it’s her birthday, she is sending me a gift.

Background, Middle and High School, The Early Years

Football.

I am watching This is Us. We are on the episode when the Pittsburg Steelers win the Super Bowl. The conversation about their Dads watching football reminds me of my own Dad. He was a die-hard San Diego Chargers fan.

Professional football provided the background sound of my childhood. Sometimes it got annoying, having to make sure we weren’t blocking my Dad’s line of sight to the TV or being too loud. Actually, I don’t think he ever minded our noise. I don’t know that he even  paid attention to the commentators, because he sure was in his own world when watching football.

I remember one time he told us kids that his parents didn’t let him play sports when he was in school. He really wanted to, but they couldn’t afford it and didn’t think it was an appropriate use of time when there were chores to be done. My dad was the youngest of seven children.

When I was fifteen years old, I had had enough with football. This thing that dominated every weekend between August and February every year, I was done with it. So I asked my dad to explain the game. Naturally. Even though I had fifteen years of football watching experience behind me, I did not get it. (My conservative estimates put that at roughly 500 hours of football!) He explained the basics of the game, and it made my TV viewing experiences much more enjoyable. And then my senior year of high school I was a football cheerleader (don’t read into that too much). For a while there I really loved football.

These days I am the wife of a former player and mom of a future football player, and I completely understand why parents would not allow their son to play football. The fear of motherhood is not to be messed with.

I am at a point in my story that I am not sure how to explain football and my love-hate relationship with the sport. Do I embrace its influence in my life, or do I delve into creating some sort of symbolism with it? When we tell the stories of our lives, how much do we emphasize the positive and minimize the negative? Isn’t it funny that in the current moment, the opposite is true? We tend to emphasize the negative and ignore the positive. So I guess I will just leave it at that. Football: a neutral force in my life, both positive and negative, a balancing and evocative trigger of memories.