Almost ten years ago when I became a mother, I was full of joy, and hope, and gratefulness, and yes insecurity.
Like many times in our lives when we feel insecure, we often feel a false sense of assuredness by the concept of “power in numbers.” The thought that “if lots of others also do it, believe it, sign up…it must be a good choice.”
It’s no wonder we feel this way. It is what we are subliminally taught. Hurry! Choose! Join!
The United States has 72 million registered Democrats, 55 million Republicans, and 42 million independents.
50 million Americans love the Pittsburgh Steelers (lots of smart people).
273,968 people want Justin Bieber deported.
All the cool kids are doing it. Numbers are used to persuade us.
This belief comes up throughout our life in an attempt to make us feel better.
Whether it is our elementary school self persuading others to play what we want to play or our high school self desperately trying to find confidence in all the wrong ways through the peer pressured choices we make, it happens. My New Mom Self was no exception. I’m sure many of the decisions I made (or didn’t make), I self evaluated by what my peers were doing and measured by choices by someone else’s ruler at times…. (side note: that never really works does it?)
I find that often times mothers fall into this same trap. When you think about it, we have infinite parenting decisions to make and big, huge, uncountable responsibilities, particularly when you think broadly of the overall “job” of raising a human or humans! (YIKES).
I’ve thought a lot this year about not only how my kids have matured (still a long way to go), but also have I have matured (again – still a long way to go) as a mother. In my LETTER TO MY NEW MOM SELF I shared what I wish I knew then. But in honor of Mother’s Day this year, I’d like to share what I know for sure right now. WHY?
Here’s the thing. We all have beliefs. And boy can we get passionate about them. Whole food, raw food, meatless, meat only, dairy, almond, soy, or coconut milk. Public or private school. Homeschool. Unschool. Bottle or breast or both. Attachment, Authoritarian, or Permissive parenting. How to celebrate (or not celebrate) holidays. How to discipline. How to potty train. How to put to bed. The list goes on and on…and on and on. To be honest, sometimes I find it difficult to hear my own voice because there are so many venues for everyone to shout their voices from (By the way – I realize this blog could be one of them – but just wait!).
We, as Mother’s, could:
1) Choose to judge each other for our choices and we could choose to boost our own confidence by trying to persuade others to “join our team.” We could fall back into that playground setting and give in to that little voice that gets us at times (no matter what age we are). We could doubt ourselves and judge others and self criticize in that doubt.
2) We could respect each others choices (choose away and as long as your kids are safe – fine with me because they in fact, are YOUR kids) and spend our time and energy following our own MOMMY CREED. Why a creed? A creed is a set of beliefs or aims that guide someone’s actions. Sometimes parents need a creed. A written or spoken reminder of why we are doing what we are doing. Because in all honesty, sometimes it’s so crazy around here that I can’t remember why I came into the room, so when looking at my “whole wide vision for Motherhood,” a magnifying glass could be helpful.
A MOMMY CREED to me, means that SOMEONE whose actions will be guided is me and the creed I follow in between the walls of this house needs no one approval or endorsement except the 4 of us. I don’t say that to sound harsh. In contrast, I’m a person that relies on my family and friends to keep me honest and true to my core beliefs, so I certainly welcome their voices, but I’ve matured to know that if the 4 of us are following our creed, it works. We work. I need other’s support for my decisions, but not 273,968 people saying “breast is best” or “Yes, you were too hard on her.”
I tend to pay more attention, when I write things down (a benefit of this blog!). So I decided as an exercise for Mother’s Day, I’d write my Mommy Creed to my children. Will you join me and write yours? I promise it is not as scary as it sounds!
Here goes nothing (or everything depending on how you view it!)
I believe being your Mom is the greatest blessing of my life but it is hard none the less. I believe that I get through it with God, My Mommy Posse, and my actually family (blood related and others) as well as our church family. I believe we always belong to each other and that my belonging to those wonderful people, make me a better Mom. I believe it takes a village to raise you and those people are our village, and I am thankful for their extra eyes (to watch you), ears (to hear you), mouths (to give you sound advice from someone other than your mother), and hearts (to love you – because you can never have too many people that love you). These people being in “our business” is good for business as far as I’m concerned.
I believe working part time (or at least telling myself it is part time since I have a few flexible jobs) is the best option for me. Notice I don’t say perfect. I said best. I am thankful for the opportunities I have to fulfill myself and serve others through work and to still be there for you (albeit scattered) for things that matter to you. I am, however, realistic that I never really feel like I can do anything 100%. Some days this feeling is acceptable. Others it is not. Best is always pleasing because perfect isn’t real when it comes to this for me. I pray this effort (futile as it may look some days) provides you with an example to be anything you want one day – no matter what that looks like for you.
I believe in the concept that we are a team. We all work. We all play. We all win. We need you for us to succeed – so get on board!
I believe that you must know that there is a big world out there other than you. I believe in serving together as a way to not only help others but to help you (and me) to grow and become more aware of that world. I believe traveling does this too (plus it is one of my favorite things to do – so that helps). I believe that if you don’t like something in this world – change it. Don’t complain. The world has enough complainers but not enough changers. Stand out and do good things.
I believe you must have manners, respect for other but especially adults, kindness, and empathy, and that you might be born with more or less of some of that than others, but we can all gain more through hard work and relationships with others. I believe if you leave our house without that – I will have failed you.
I believe that I am responsible for teaching you much about this crazy life, but at the same time I will be grateful for the rest of my life, for the hardworking teachers who influence, inspire, and challenge you to be your best self. I believe their dedication will help you go much farther than my limitted patience at homework time ever will. I believe we both need to thank them frequently.
I believe that your best will ALWAYS BE good enough for me. Your learning from being challenged, is more important than any grade or test score. I believe one of my biggest jobs is to recognize signs of you being over stressed. Understand me that this is different than challenged or pushed outside of your comfort zone (because I believe that is GOOD), but I believe it’s my job to know when you are pushed too far and that if so, I believe I can remedy the situation with sending you outside to climb a tree, hugging you until you stay stop (and then waiting 3 more minutes), or taking a nap with you. I believe that being overtired or over hungry sometimes makes small worries grow.
I believed we all fail and that admitting my many mistakes in front of you (and asking YOU to forgive ME when necessary) is an important example of grace in action. I believe in hearing your side, but that sometimes “because I said so and I’m the Mom and know what is best for you,” really is the answer you will get and need to accept. I believe one day you’ll “get” that.
I believe that 1-3 sit down family meals a week is better than none and tremendously important to your physical and social growth. I believe you should eat what I cook, but if you don’t like it, I believe you can make what you want as long as you hit all the foods groups and clean up your own mess – I’m cool with that.
I believe in a balance of eating well, sleeping enough, playing, working, and resting and that when we do too much of one or more, our whole team gets out of whack. I believe in trying again tomorrow and that the sun will always come out (eventually).
I believe that my decisions regarding your safety, future, learning, and affection all matter, but I also believe that my overanalyzing them or over criticizing them will cause you (and me) more harm than any one of them could.
I believe that you somehow need to see the ocean and a live musical performance once a year because both make souls smile.
I believe playing with blocks will make you smarter than I was at math so you should do that. I believe that you should play with “baby toys” and in “baby games” like making up shows, playing with dolls, and teaching school to your stuffed animals longer than your friends will tell you it is cool. I believe staying “little” as long as you want is just fine with me. I believe that it is acceptable to carry you into your bed or rock you to sleep whenever you ask me to, no matter your age.
I believe I can tell you you are smart, beautiful, loved, worthy, and capable of all you dream and you can gain confidence in many ways through hard work and through successes but even more from failures, yet no one can help you understand your right to be respected more than your Daddy can.
I believe it is an honor to be the mother to two beautiful, smart, and above all caring daughters. You are not perfect children and you came from an imperfect mother. But together, with Daddy, we are what we are meant to be together, and that gives me intense joy…a joy I pray you will one day be blessed to experience.
I believe that you need to know that even as I scream for you to PICK THAT WET TOWEL OFF MY BED every single solitary night, I prayed for years for your existence, and that despite my screaming or loss of patience, I am acutely aware that getting to be your mom is a privilege. So feel loved and appreciated. And then go pick up your towel. Now.
There it is. My creed. Just like the ones we recite in church, it is a set of beliefs I ASPIRE to. It doesn’t mean, I succeed every time – even daily, but I do know that putting it out there helps me focus on what matters. Maybe I need to recite it out loud! Mothers may not agree on all our decisions, but I know we can all agree that focusing on what is important to us and our people matters. Let’s spend this Mother’s Day doing that – and living confidently in the decisions we make for our families. One of the ultimate Momas said it best herself. And I think the intent is to include ourselves as well.
So go for it. Spend some time this week writing your creed. Gift yourself and your family with the joy of taking the focus off what social media tells you being a Mom needs to look like, and turn that focus into what it actually looks like (or aspires to look like) between your own walls.
To those of you waking up every day and trying again at the most challenging job around – our hats off to you! Our solidarity and love to you! Our prayers you get a nap or a massage this week are with you! (If you need a list to “accidentally” post or leave with some gift ideas – here you go!) Honor yourself this week. Write your creed and live it! And remember there is not ALWAYS strength (or smart choices) in numbers. Just think of of how many people used to tease their bangs.
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