Never judge your motherhood by just one day

Nobody can be harder on a mama than herself.  We have all these things we tell ourselves about how we’re awful at motherhood, how we keep messing up, how we’re not doing it right, how we are doing the very things we swore we wouldn’t ever do and on and on it goes.  And we are great at putting guilt trips on ourselves.  If we do something solely for us that takes us away from our kids, we are sure that the world is going to come crashing down.  We are sure the kids will be scarred for life and someday sit in a therapist’s chair telling about how their life was going well until that one day  their mom decided to go to her room for an hour and read in silence or spend an hour a week for 10 weeks taking a class of interest to her or whatever.  We are good at laying it on thick on ourselves.  Heck, we may be great at not judging other parents and their styles, but we are the first to harshly criticize our own.

I have worked on this.  I have blogged about this.  I have reminded myself that I am doing the best I can.  I am still working and still reminding myself that I’m doing my best.  And I still have bad days.

Earlier this week I literally only had my kids for about two hours after dinner before bedtime.  They had spent the day with my parents while I went to doctors’ appointments and run some errands for my son’s upcoming 2nd birthday party.  Those two hours included baths for them both (we don’t do baths every night in our house).  And I knew after they went to bed, I’d have to hop in the shower myself.  I much prefer doing that in the mornings, but my husband had an extra early day the next day and he’d need to be in the bathroom getting ready during my usual shower time.  I didn’t feel like setting the clock even earlier than usual.  Add all of this in to the fact that I’d had a pretty busy day cramming in tasks I can’t do as easily with the kids around and that they were hyper and excited after having just spent time with their grandparents and it was a recipe for stress.

It was one of those evenings that make you question your sanity and why you ever decided to have children in the first place.  The evening had come after a rough day previously as well.  My son is a typical toddler who is very into exploring and checking things out.  Every so often he has a day or two that he just goes crazy and wreaks havoc around here. My patience was thin with both of them.

By the time both were tucked snugly in their beds, I was worn out.  And it had only been two hours with them.  What kind of mother gets so irritated in just two hours?  What kind of person was that I had no patience for their shenanigans that evening?  I started laying it on myself thick.  It hung over my head and my heart.  I prayed about it in the shower.  I prayed about it the next morning during my quiet time.  God has given me these children and all I do is get grumpy and irritated with them, I said to myself.  That wasn’t my plan and it surely wasn’t His either.

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I was judging myself and my mothering skills based on one bad day.  The next day dawned with my kids behaving as usual.  I found myself laughing with them and enjoying them.  I still got some tasks accomplished on my to-do list (which always makes me feel better) and I also did things like snuggle under a blanket on the couch with them singing songs during a pretend camp-out.  In fact, when I tucked them into bed, my heart felt happy and content.  I felt good about the day and good about myself as a mother.

But just as I shouldn’t judge myself and all of my parenting skills based on one bad day, I also shouldn’t based on one good day.  One good day doesn’t make me a saint.  It doesn’t make me a perfect mother.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t have room to improve and things I need to work on.  I still do.  I always do and always will.  That’s part of being human.  What that DOES mean, though, is that I need to continue reminding myself not to beat myself up too hard on the rough days because there are always good days to follow.  Not every single day is crazy stressful and not every single day is blissfully happy. Most days are somewhere in between with mixes of both. That neither means I’m a good mother nor a bad one.  It just means I’m a mother in the fray of raising small children.

No matter how today goes — whether great, awful or mediocre — I will still be who I am at the end of it.  I will still be a mother who is trying her best and who loves her kids even when they make her want to scream because they are frustrating or weep because they are so sweet.  One day’s experiences don’t define my motherhood ability.  They just define that day. And that’s what I need to remember.

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