How to be a perfect mom – (and why you are able to be one )
After talking with moms from different backgrounds, cultures and levels of society I realized we all have things in common. An important one of them is the heart of a mother that longs to be a perfect mom for her children. Often, mothers don’t tell it like this. More often, we talk about how we aren’t perfect, and how we realize our daily shortcomings and mistakes by reflecting ourselves. We talk about how we feel inadequate and guilty by looking at these flaws.
But today I want to share with you, why I believe we can become this perfect mom… with all our shortcomings.
I know that feeling of shortcoming very well.
I am not a perfect mom in that sense.
However, I believe that even by living in a real world, dealing with real stuff and having our real struggles in life we all can be amazing moms.
It is important to realize that no one of us will ever reach the kind of perfection to always do the right thing and say the right thing, in the right attitude. None of us will understand everything while it still matters. Sometimes we simply don’t know better. Or we believe some teachings about child rearing that harm our little ones.
We all are learning to deal with our lives. None of us has arrived. For some of us, these struggles lie in the past and we are trying to cope with them today. For some, the present situation is a real challenge, sometimes painful and sometimes it even seems to be unbearable.
But let me tell you, I believe that, in our individual reality, we can be that “perfect mom” for our kids.
When I was a child, both of my parents were dealing with their past and struggling with their present. However, none of us five children were allowed to enter into their lives. We were all held at a distance from their true self. We were educated, we were fed, we went to school, but we never had a real relationship with either of them. We had no idea about their real thoughts, struggles and wishes. I remember my mother talking on the phone with her friend every Tuesday evening, sharing with her what she experienced during the week with her children and other stuff. I always tried to stay awake and ultimately sneak near the office from where she was talking. I tried to listen to that call – only to know a little bit more about this woman that was my mom.
Today, there is no way I can talk to my parents about their shortcomings. Even though I’m in a position where I don’t feel any bitterness of pain towards them, where I hold nothing against my mom or my dad, because I know that God has restored my life in a great way – they are not able to admit any shortcomings.
As a mom, I’ve come to realize that all children long for one thing:
“A deep belonging, a bonding with their parents. The feeling to be known and to know their parents.
And in the end, our children will not become who they are by what we do, but much more by who we are, how we teach them life.”
Seeing that as fact, I see many practical ways to be that perfect mom.
Are we going through difficult times? Be real with with your children.
Of course we need to be wise about how to share our reality with our kids. They should not become our counselor, our confident and the person we depend on to be happy. That’s not what I am talking about!
What I am talking about is a vulnerability to be real.
When I drive all the way down to France, I finally have 800 kilometers, about 8 hours driving time, and a total of 10 hours traveling time, including breaks, behind me. When we arrive, I am simply done. My kids as well, they are tired, yet excited to be here. Some are close to being overwhelmed by the many impressions and the fatigue.
Because I just can’t any more, instead of yelling at them I tell them: Kids, you have to behave, I am so tired, I feel like there is not much patience left inside of me. Please, you have to help me build up this tent and then we can go swimming. Are you ready to help me? My toddler is too small for such rational thinking… but the others are more than willing to help me and we usually spend a very calm and peaceful time together – despite our common tiredness and little capacity of dealing with frustration.
But the same goes for big challenges.
I would have loved my parents to have told me about their struggles with stuff that happened in their past.
Again, there is wisdom required of what we tell them. We don’t need (and many times it is not constructive) to share details of abuse or other happenings.
Often, an overall explanation is enough: Simply, that we are having a hard time to deal with experiences of our past, telling them what we are doing about it.
Like, for example:
- “You see, when I was a child, there were things happening that were really difficult for me.”
- “My father died” or
- “dificult things were going on in our home” or
- “I never felt loved”
or anything like that. Then explain to them: “Therefore today, I am dealing with that. I am talking about it with a counselor, I am taking time with God to pour out my heart to him”, etc.
- “On my Job, I have a hard time. I am learning to not depend on the approval of my boss but to trust in God for our future”. Or
- “you know, I lost my Job, I am very weary to not be able to provide for your needs. Let’s pray together for God’s provision” Or even more basic:
- “You know, I am such a perfectionist, I want things to be perfect. If they aren’t I feel bad. I am dealing with that right now. You know, the truth is, God is proud of me even if I fail to do it perfectly, simply by who I am.“
Just be yourself.
In that situation, I was looking at her with compassion and told her: Oh please, my beloved girl, don’t do it like I did it so many times when I was a child: I know exactly how this feels! Rather take the example of your daddy. He would simply do it, then move on, relaxed and happy. She looked at me, puzzled. I repeated and explained to her, once again, what I had just said. I saw a smile in her eyes and then she continued her emotional way of dealing with it. I was smiling, telling her: I am sorry you have to go through that, I know it is really difficult at that moment”.
During that conversation, she heard about another way of how to deal with it, and the bond between us was strengthened. And instead of being upset with her way of dealing, I just felt compassion and understanding for her.
Therefore, let’s be real. Let’s have the courage to be vulnerable and to give our children the biggest gift there is: The gift of ourselves! This is one reason I go camping with my children. It is something I love to do, I feel comfortable doing, and we get to know each other in another way.
By being real,
- You give the child the privilege to really know you, who you are. To have a relationship with you. Like in a marriage. My husband suffers if I withhold myself from him. He hates it if I pull back from him because of my personal things, because of the feeling of inadequacy or anything like that. Simply because it hinders true intimacy. It hinders connection and the feeling of belonging.
- You have the privilege to teach your children how to deal with difficult things in life. You can be assured, your child will experience such things. So instead of “teaching your child life by being hard and consequent”, teach him or her how you are dealing with stuff. This will motivate you to do it even better, because you understand that you have a position of example in life.
I believe that succesful parenting has nothing to do with us knowing all things, doing all things perfectly, at the right time, the right way.