Mistakes go with the territory of motherhood, right? We all start out with this ideal picture of what a “good mom” does, looks like, acts like, and feels like. She always has her act together.
Then reality sets in. We realize some days we don’t have ANYthing together. We look (and act) like we just walked off the set of The Walking Dead. We feel overwhelmed and spread too thin.
I used to beat myself up with mom guilt – I shouldn’t work so much, I should be doing more of this or that with my kids, making more cutesy crafts with them, taking them to sensory-overload play places more often.
Then I got over it.
I’m a good mom. Not a perfect mom by any means – far from it. I still struggle to find a balance between work and family. But being a good mom doesn’t mean I have to do it all or have a Pinteresty afternoon every day.
I’ve learned to give myself grace when I forget to sign up for the PTA chili supper or didn’t see the note that my kid was supposed to take a water bottle to school yesterday.
Some days I even have to explain to my kids why I can’t do something or take them somewhere, and ask them to cut me some slack. They’re quite forgiving little people.
My kids know they are loved, they know they have a safe place to come to, and they’re learning to be considerate human beings in spite of my mistakes. (I know I’ll mess up anyway, so I’m also saving up for counseling when they’re older.)
It took me awhile to get to the point of being okay with an imperfect balance. That balance changes as my kids grow, so I have to allow myself to be flexible.
Before I got to that point of acceptance though, I made several mistakes as a new work at home mom:
1. Thinking I was a “stay at home mom” who worked on the side.
Both a SAHM and WAHM are great, but there’s a big difference between the two. I needed to realize, admit, and own the “Work at Home Mom” role to myself and others. (Full credit goes to Mary Byers and her book Making Work at Home Work for this light bulb moment!)
2. Trying to do it all and fit it all in.
I was trying to fit too many pieces into one pie and it just wasn’t working. Being a WAHM adds responsibilities that have to be taken into account when figuring my priorities. Sometimes other things have to give. I need to make a conscious decision of what those things are rather than letting it happen by default or letting other moms and their agendas decide for me.
3. Not setting clear boundaries between home and work.
I should have learned sooner to set a cutoff time for work and clients instead of letting them intrude any time into family stuff. Now I have a couple of hard rules for myself:
1) I don’t acknowledge or reply to work calls, texts, or emails on Sundays. Period. Owning that mental break has been good for me.
2) I’m never on the phone when I drop off or pick up kids from school. I like to look them in the eye and hear about their day. I want them to feel like they’re important to me. We’ve had some of the best conversations during those moments.
4. Not realizing how important it is to take care of myself, and then doing it without feeling selfish.
I’m a much better mom and wife when I’ve taken a break to do something for myself, even if it’s just for a little bit.
5. Carrying around too much mom guilt.
For a long time I always had the feeling that I should be doing more for my kids, reading to them more (even though we already read for hours every day!), playing more, teaching them more, always more. But no matter how much more I did, it was never quite “enough.”
I finally accepted that I am one imperfect person who is doing the best I can at this mothering thing, and that has to be enough.
Mistakes are a part of life, but they don’t have to drag us down. It’s up to us if we want to use our mistakes to make ourselves better or to beat ourselves up. We’re so ingrained to avoid mistakes, but in reality that’s how we learn and grow best.
So fellow moms, I challenge you (and myself), instead of being afraid to make mistakes, why not be brave enough to make them and let them push us to something better?
“Mistakes have the power to turn you into something better than you were before.” -Unknown
What mistakes have you made in your WAH journey? Where do you need to give yourself some grace? Share in the comments below.
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