Thursday, September 19, 2013

That moment you realize it's all about you...

I've been complaining a lot lately. I mean, there are lots of things that are legitimately wrong. My kids talk back. They rarely do exactly what I tell them to do, exactly how I instruct them to do it the moment I tell them to do it. They never clean up after themselves and neither does my husband for that matter. I don't get any respect. No one cares that I cook for them, make their favorite foods, clean up their messes and plan fun activities for them. I mean does anyone know how much I do for all of them? Not to mention, I'm trying to run a business here, people! I have clients and people depending on me and all you can say is, "Hey Mommy, Mommy!"

And I'm sick of the kids fighting. Nothing's fair. It's not fair that this one has to share a room with that one and everyone should get equal amounts of privacy and if they're not being nice to each other you can bet I'm going to let them have it. And it's really not fair that I have to hear about all of it. We need more rules and I'm going to make sure everyone follows every one to make sure everything's fair and I get the respect I deserve.

And I'll be as mean as I have to to ensure that happens because I'm the boss. I'm the mom afterall...right?

A lot has been wrong lately, and you could tell by taking one look at me and the horrified and looks on my kids faces when I lost it on them because everything was wrong and nothing was right.

Then came the moment, the moment I realized it was all about me. I lamented to my best friend, "I'm such a mean person. I've become a mean mom. I mean, I'm really mean. I feel like no one ever does what they're supposed to do. Everyone's always talking back and never doing what they're supposed to do and every morning there's a mess in the kitchen because no one cleaned it up the night before. It's like no one cares about me and yet I feel horrible because I'm yelling all the time and I lose it on the kids immediately because I'm so frustrated all the time!" I could hear the words coming out of my mouth and I felt so selfish, like I was making it all about me, and I felt even more remorseful.

First she asked, "Why do you need all that from them? Why does their room have to be perfect when the leave for school in the morning and why do they have to hop to the moment you give them instructions?"

I replied, "Because I don't want to be 'that mom' who doesn't have it all together and whose kids look disheveled and whose kids don't obey. When I was a single mom I was criticized so much and I refuse to be the mom with the bad kids."

She said, "But your kids aren't bad kids, Missy. You have amazing kids. You know what? It sounds to me like you're not taking care of yourself. You're not a mean person. You're actually a really easy-going person, but not when you're on the edge because you've stretched yourself too thin. When you're on the edge you're unhappy and you're going to let everyone know it."

Boom. It dawned on me. It really was all about me. Something I learned as a single mom when I launched my blogging career at One for me, two for you, was that I became a better mom when I stopped trying the BE the "perfect mom" and just decided to be myself. I also discovered there was a reason why flight attendants began telling people to put their oxygen masks on themselves before they put them on their children: you can't take care of your kids if you're dead. 

Somewhere along the way I became wounded by others' criticism of my parenting and lost sight of the fact that I get to parent the way I want to parent and no one knows my kids better than I do. Maybe it was being in the spotlight more because of my blogging; maybe I began to fear that people would recognize me in public and see that Honeybee Mama doesn't have control of her own kids. But also along the way I forgot how to say no and took on too many responsibilities and did too many things for other people, including my kids.

I read somewhere recently that the surefire way to make yourself miserable is by trying to make other people happy all the time. I will never be able to teach my kids enough or clean them up enough or cook enough foods from scratch or vacuum my house enough to convince others I'm the perfect mom. And I will never be able to do enough for my kids for them to be perma-happy. I will never be able to give enough to them that on Mother's Day they shower me with profuse thanks and make me feel like the Queen Mother I am because I make their bread from scratch and feed them each their favorite breakfast before they go to school and never forget the little love note in their lunchbox. Let's get real, that movie-ready Mother's Day will never happen anyway.

I took a step back and realized several things. First, I'm not perfect and neither are my kids. I don't hop to every time they say, "Hey Mommy," (which is like, a million times an hour), and they probably won't hop to the moment I tell them to brush their teeth. They probably also won't hop to if I tell them to brush their teeth and then bark five more instructions at them while they're on their way to the bathroom and then start yelling at them five minutes later for not obeying.

When I took that step back, I realized that not only isn't everything perfect, it's OKAY that it's not perfect. If I crawl up my kids' butts for every speck of dust that isn't in place when the leave for school in the morning, I'm only setting them up for intense fear of failure and perfectionism and the knowledge of my perma-disappointment in them for their perma-imperfection. Not exactly the message I want to send.

Lastly, I HAVE to take care of myself. If I'm getting the time to myself I need and not taking on too much, I'm actually a pretty happy person. And when I'm taking care of myself I realize my kids aren't actually jerks. I was the jerk.

I've got to give my husband some props here too. He does actually clean up after himself and he's incredibly supportive of me and my business. When I talked to him about the things on my heart, he said, "You know, I never tell you no on anything you want to do. You can do whatever you want and I'll support long as you can handle it. But if you can't handle it, then something needs to change, because we can't keep doing things this way." My sweet husband, God bless him, has been taking all the heat lately because I'm the one's that's stressed. It turns out I'm not the only one who's been cleaning up other people's messes.

So, warning: I'm doing life and work differently these days. I'm not going to be as busy thinking that will earn me extra jewels in heaven or extra cards on Mother's Day. I'm going to see my kids for the treasures that they are and give them the grace I need to give myself as well. I'm going to get back to enjoying the wonderful life I have and all its imperfections instead of trying to make it perfect. From now on I'll remember it's all about know, in the good way, not the selfish way.

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