“One day you will have one just like you.”
This truth crossed my mom’s lips about a million times when I was growing up. Of course, I would roll my eyes and walk away, mumbling yeah right under my breath, but she was right.
I’m parenting a miniature version of myself, and it’s one of the most humbling things I have ever done. Swallowing my pride on a daily basis is not easy, but it is necessary.
My oldest son is one of the best parts of my life with his crazy imagination and endless supply of energy. But, man, do we have those days! He’s as strong-willed, impatient, and emotional as I am and challenges my parenting skills on the regular. There are days I call my mom and apologize.
For several weeks, it was a battle of the wills — every day, all day. We didn’t go out much because I was scared other moms would judge me. He spent hours in his room while I was crying in the bathroom. I had to be missing some magical parenting technique that would make everything better. Not only was I struggling with the pressure to be a perfect mom, but I felt like I dove off a cliff and didn’t know how to swim. I finally hit a wall and broke down to my husband one night, sobbing uncontrollably into my pillow.
“I don’t think I can be the mother that he needs.”
This marked the beginning of a journey for me. I knew I could do it, but I didn’t know how. I prayed that God would make me more aware of what my son needed and then to show me how to walk in the awareness.
At my baby shower for Baby #2 a month or so later, beautiful friends spoke encouragement over me, not only beginning the process of mending my broken heart but also helping to change my perspective on my ability to be a mom of two.
Recognize the gifts that you give your children. This might be difficult to see when you’re right in the middle of an emotional breakdown, so reach out to your spouse or partner or a close mom friend and ask them to share the gifts that they see in you. Sometimes you just need a little reminder.
Recognize the gifts your children give you. Think about all the random hugs when you are having a bad day or the truth bombs reminding you to take a deep breath and just be nice. These are little glimpses into the little person you are working so hard to raise.
Don’t suffer alone. Ask for help! Find someone (your husband, a good friend, a neighbor) you can trust to give you a break, so you can breathe.
Embrace the lonely moments. So much of mothering takes place when no one is around. Those moments are full of sleep-deprivation, anxiety, fear, and maybe even anger. Take a deep breath and know that you are not alone.
Find the joy in the journey. Laugh at yourself, at situations, and with your children! They tell me that we won’t always be scooping poop out of the bathtub.
In the midst of this encouragement, there also came a challenge that shook me to my core: Practice Patience. Patience with myself and with him.
I did mention that I was pretty impatient, right?
He needs someone to love him and be patient as he learns about himself. We aren’t on opposite sides of the battlefield- we are on the same team! The only way that I can teach patience is to be patient with myself- accepting and working through my own flaws and teaching him to do the same.
This is not a done deal. It’s still a work in progress and probably will be until the day he leaves to be on his own. We still bicker and have those days, but I don’t feel defeated like I did a few months ago. I’m learning to give myself grace on a daily basis, which is making me a much better mama. The mama that he needs.