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Mar 10, 2015

...Without a Cape

There’s no shortage of advice for how to be a better mom. Books, magazines, and seminars are devoted to this topic as are whole social media platforms (Pinterest, anyone?). If we daily did everything “good mothers” are supposed to do—as much and as often as the experts say—we would do nothing else. And we’d live well into our early 400s getting it all done (with full knowledge that somebody else out there threw a better Frozen birthday party). 

This is not that list. This is a hastily assembled, somewhat-fact-checked collection of imperfect advice from imperfect moms like me who have cast off their capes, laid down their lassos, and turned in their tiaras. And in doing so, they have found a better balance in their approach to motherhood.

  • Put yourself in time out. Or better yet, let your kids put you in time out. If your children are old enough to take on some chores, they will feel proud to be given (and trusted with) responsibility. You can take better care of them when you take better care of yourself.
  • Drop the ball. Is it me, or is multitasking beginning to feel overrated? If you’re juggling a million balls in the air, ask yourself if you could get by with 999,999. Maybe you don’t let it go for good, but maybe for a season. Pick it back up when you’re ready. Letting go of one ball doesn’t mean the rest will fall.
  • Re-group in a group. Seasoned moms know that motherhood isn’t for wimps. Do you have a network of support? Connect with your community—book clubs, Bible studies, mom groups, girls night. There’s strength in numbers… there’s no need to go it alone.
  • Sing! Music has a way of pulling us out of our heads and into our hearts. Sometimes God gives us just the right song at just the right time—that’s one way He ministers to our spirit. Sometimes He puts a song on our children’s lips. Go ahead and sing along. In fact, do the motions. Get your car dance on, too. Depending on their ages, it will either make your children feel close to you or truly mortify them. You’ll benefit either way.
  • Find your OYO. What’s the thing that you do outside of your work and home that’s uniquely yours—your “only you outlet”? Find an opportunity to serve, share, or give using the blessings, life, gifts God has given only to you. Giving back and sharing our hearts can often be the most effective way to refuel, rejuvenate, and energize us.
  • Dishes will wait. Stop worrying about the dishes in your sink and who might come over to see them there. What will the neighbors think? They’ll think real people live in this real home. Nobody cares, really. Can we all stop pretending Better Homes and Gardens will be here shortly to photograph our kitchens?
  • Study your struggle. Select Bible studies that focus on areas where you’d like to grow. Share your struggle and your breakthroughs with trusted friends. Allow God to speak to you through Scripture—breathe in His Word when you feel suffocated.
  • Come Clean. An important way to build trust and protect your relationship with your kids is to admit when you’re wrong and ask for forgiveness. We all have moments—you know the ones—where we yell, accuse, make poor choices, or miss the salient detail. When we’re honest with our kids, we teach them how to own their imperfect behavior, make a sincere apology, and make the moment right.

Enough with “I’m not doing enough” or, worse yet, “I’m not enough.” Are you providing love (unconditional acceptance, support, biblical training/discipline), protection (rules, safety, boundaries), and provision (food, shelter, clothing, education)? Then that’s a job well done. Give yourself a promotion.

I feel like I can let you in on a secret: There is no “Mother of the Year” award. June Cleaver read from a script. Carol Brady had a maid. Wonder Woman doesn’t exist, so you can put away the red cape.* Heaven knows you don’t need more laundry.

*But keep the red wonder boots. Sometimes you need some really cute boots.

In all seriousness, Bethany loves all moms, especially imperfect moms. If you’re a mom who needs help, please visit us at bethany.org/other-services/family-counseling. If you want to support Bethany at your local branch, visit bethany.org/support-bethany/volunteer to learn more.

Contributed by Amylynn Warners