Friday, September 9, 2011
Playing to Our Strengths
**She was way more ready for this day than I was.**
I'm sitting at my computer and it's very quiet. I took Tiny to preschool for the very.first.time today (sniffle) and Drummer is taking his morning nap. Weird.
So while I listen to the steady drip, drip, drip outside, I'm letting the swirl of thoughts I've had this week settle.
Today I'm thinking about how easy it is to feel inadequate as a parent when I look outside of my family. For example, I was reading this article by a mom yesterday who was giving a list of several (admittedly great) tips for raising kids and activities to do with them. She seemed so on top of her game.
**Tiny claims she's helping Drummer stay on top of his climbing game, but she somehow just ends up on top of him.**
When I read the article, I thought, "Gosh, she's such a good mom! Full of lists and plans and energy to execute it all.' And there was this instant where I panicked--where I thought of all the ways I must be falling short because I wasn't mothering like she was.
**I often worry he'll fall short when he scales our play structure.**
As I continued down this path of thinking, I suddenly pulled myself up short. I have faith in myself as a mother, imperfect as I am, and it didn't feel healthy to berate myself for not being 'enough' when compared to somebody else. Just because I recognize and can learn from what she does well, doesn't mean I have to mother like she does to be a success.
**Pretty much always a success.**
I decided this: I'm only ever going to succeed at--or be happy being--the kind of mom that's authentic for me. Which means I have to let go of trying to be one of the other kinds of amazing moms I see on blogs and in magazines. I'm not saying that I'll never borrow some of their ideas, but I need not worry about comparing my sum total experience to theirs. There are lots of ways to raise healthy, happy children.
**"Why would you ever doubt?"**
I'm never going to be the mom with the quilted family mission statement, elaborate job charts, amazing craft afternoons, alphabetized summer activity days or gourmet meals on the table.
And that's okay. People do what they enjoy and what works for their families. My friends who do more of those things do it because it satisfies them and helps them reach their goals. It's who they are.
My mom wasn't a super-PTA kind of mom. Her strengths weren't in a lot of the domestic parts of mothering, though she valiantly did what needed to be done. She was really good at being present, at teaching and talking to us, and helping us to think. I have such lovely memories of that: of sitting down after school, eating a run-of-the-mill snack, and just talking to her about all kinds of interesting things. Or of her staying up late with me while I was working on a school project, reviewing the events of the day. It always felt like enough because I was with her and it was the fruits of who she was. And mostly, it was enough because I knew I was loved.
**Drummer's feeling pretty loved right about now.**
But what a gift! Through being true to herself, she gave her kids many wonderful things:a desire to learn, a love of communication, the urge to gather information and think critically about things, the seeds of faith.
I'm glad she didn't spend her energy trying to be somebody else.
She knew her strengths were in her mind--her teaching ability, the way she thirsted for knowledge--and she used those to shape our family life. That is not to say she never pushed herself in pursuit of meeting our needs, though, and I have a hand sewn Scarlett O'hara costume to prove it!
When she first had kids she says she ran around trying to figure out how to quilt and can fruit because she thought that's what made a good mother. Then she realized she just needed to amplify her own God-given talents in behalf of her children, and trust that we'd get our fill of other motherly skills like quilting or baking from other moms (thanks Teresa and Karen!).
Me? I have a good bit of my mother in me. There's also a lot of inherited characteristics from my dad in there, and things that are just my own.
**I see a lot of those parts of myself in this little gal.**
And I think as I focus on amplifying those things in a positive way, and as I keep in mind my overarching goals for our family, things will fall into place.
I love to read and write. To talk. I have strong faith in God. I love the arts and travel. I like music and dancing. Spontaneity and adventure. A little baking and some simple crafts. Being silly. For things to feel relaxed and flexible. That whole doctor thing. :)
And as the home maker around these parts, these are the influences that will shape our day to day. These are my strengths and my interests. This is the context wherein I'll find the best mom for my family.
**My love for these little people gives shape and color to our day to day.**
And the things I don't do? Well, I'll be grateful that I'm surrounded by women who fill in the gaps.
So next time I read about a mom who excels in ways that I don't, I'm just going to be glad that she's out there, and hope that my kids will benefit from someone like her. I'll learn what I can from her example, and still feel secure in the fact that I'm successfully rocking this motherhood thing in my very own way.