I came to motherhood knowing nothing about the job. My mother’s example wasn’t an example at all, more of something to forget, and maybe even get therapy for. My own son was the first newborn I’d ever held. When I became a mom, I was 23 and clueless.
Because of my personality, I wanted to do everything right and parenthood was no exception. I read all the books on parenting I could. I talked to older moms and soaked up all the advice they gave me. Having no idea what I was doing made me look to outside sources to inform me on how to do everything. I wasn’t aiming for perfection, I just wanted to do it all right. Sleep schedule? Check. Homemade baby food? Check. Educational toddler activities? Check.
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Years went on and we added more children. We adopted one child. Then another. Then a surprise pregnancy. Then another adoption.
Six kids later, I was still trying to do everything right.
Of course, there were things I gave up on, like matching socks or the house being as clean as I’d like. But I was still working hard toward my parenting ideal. Healthy meals from scratch? Check. Homeschooling with the perfect curriculum? Check. Check. Check.
Sometime in the last year, I hit a wall. Something about the combination of pandemic life, parenting adopted kids with trauma backgrounds, parenting teens, special needs kids, and a toddler made me wake up to the reality that I simply can’t do all the things.
I realized that something (many things) had to drop or I was headed toward panic attack territory. As it is, I’ve been on anxiety medication for the past year (yes, it’s helped).
Slowly, I’ve been letting go of trying to control so much.
I’ve basically stopped homeschooling, which for a long time was my identity. The teen goes to a high school co-op. The preteen does his homeschool independently. I enrolled the 4-year-old in preschool. The toddler goes to a sitter twice a week. The two elementary-aged kids do a few workbook pages each day and that’s about it. They get more screen time than I’d like.
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The weird thing is, that everyone is doing just fine without me micromanaging every aspect of their lives. Meals aren’t organic or even that healthy. Sometimes everyone makes their own dinner. This past Christmas wasn’t super magical. We baked a few times because I felt like it. We didn’t do any crafts because I realized I really can’t stand them.
Learning about myself and truly accepting my limitations has changed my life.
I’ve given up my ideal. I’m working on being a “good enough” mom. I’m giving myself more grace. In the process, I’m giving my kids more grace. And I’m giving them a much happier mom.