Growing a Rocky Garden- The Freedom of Imperfection

garden

 

I am a classic perfectionist. Born of a family of “it’s the other guy’s fault” and “you’re the best one out there” I grew up expecting more of myself than I should have and did not experience failure well. I still don’t. I’m pouting tonight. I’m finally not too proud to admit that. I submitted a short writing piece- not my best work but still good- to a motherhood journal to be one of this quarter’s authors. I did not get selected. So much of me wants to sink into the words that my dad would say if I were to call him tonight and tell him. “It was rigged. You’re just as good as the ten people chosen. They must have been intimidated by you…” But the truth is, I read the pieces written by the women who were selected, and they are simply much better writers. The prose, the voice, the lyricism in each of their pieces was exquisite. What I had to offer wasn’t up to par, plain and simple. And that’s OK! Can I get better? Absolutely. Do I want to become a better writer? Yes. Does this relate to motherhood? It does. 😉

I want to be the perfect mom. It’s my “job”. I’ve been good at every job I’ve done. But all of those jobs came with training, with clear expectations and regular affirmation of work quality. Nothing prepares us adequately for the thrill, shock, and rollercoaster ride that is mothering a child. And yet we hold ourselves to a standard that suggests otherwise.  This morning my daughter screamed and got mad at something (a daily occurrence) but for some reason the way she yelled stunned and terrified my 5 month old son to the point of hiccuping sobs. His hiccuping sobs made my daughter feel so bad that she started bawling and I was left to rock, shush and calm both of them thinking to myself “who could have told me that I would be here, trying to calm both of my hysterical children all because of one angry little scream?” I had to laugh. They were both crying simply because the other was crying! I wanted to scream at the lunacy of it! The whole situation was ludicrous. And there are many many ludicrous scenarios that we will endure in our parenting journeys. Nothing prepared me for the night that my daughter would throw herself out of her crib in a desperate attempt to get to us. Nobody prepared me for my son being wheeled on a cart into the NICU just minutes after he was separated from my body and for the first time in 41 weeks not being able to wrap my arms around him. And most days I certainly don’t know what to do with my too smart, so fiery, always questioning little girl. I snap. I yell. I make mistakes and I hate it. I’m not perfect at being her mother. But do you know what my Heavenly Father reminds me in those moments of intense remorse when I have to hang my head at the way I fall short or am left powerless? My kids don’t need a perfect mother. Neither do yours. Because they are going to fail. They are going to make mistakes and fall down hard and come up short. And they don’t need a parent who tells them to place blame elsewhere. They don’t need a mother or father to make excuses for them or to tell them they need to be perfect at everything. Our children do need someone to show them their strengths and weaknesses and to see both with grace-filled clarity. They need someone to hold them when they fail and to explore both the ways in which they can do better and the ways in which they simply can’t. Sometimes even our best will not make the grade. That’s OK too. It can be shocking to have those first experiences of wingless leaps. We are not always going to take off and soar. Oh we want to. So badly we want to. Especially when we work so hard. Tally the bruises. Safeguard the scars. They make you human and ensure that your babes will be raised with the fearlessness that comes with pure love and acceptance. My garden is filled with rocks but it is yielding some beautiful growth. If that’s not a metaphor for motherhood then I don’t know one.

Grace to you, sweet hearts. There is freedom in grace

Letting Dad “Dad”

A quick thought from my heart in honor of Father’s Day. 🙂

There are a few things that have softened my heart since becoming a mother of two, but this one doesn’t have anything to do with my son or his birth. This is just a piece of wisdom that I picked up right after he was born from a fellow mother’s Instagram post…and it hit me hard in the best way possible. I am learning to let my husband “Dad” while I “Mom”.

Practically speaking, this means that I have stopped expecting the house to be picked up if I come home from my husband being alone with the kids. They will both be happy, cared for and nourished but the house in the process will have probably gotten torn apart. This used to drive me crazy and simply put, it doesn’t anymore. This also means that dressed means dressed, not necessarily “outfitted” when it comes most specifically to our 4-year old daughter. Pajamas with a skirt might be completely acceptable. 😉 And on weekends if he has any say so, we will not be cramming our day full of errands or gatherings in order to please someone outside of our immediate family or check off something on the to-do list. Period. Our kiddos needs come first in my husband’s eyes, and he values their needs for space and down time very highly.

Emotionally speaking, what this creates in our family is balance. Ahhh, that word just makes me breathe more easily. And if you know me, you know that I am a people-pleasing perfectionist in recovery. When my husband gets home from work I expect the house to be relatively clean because that is a standard I set for myself. I expect that when we leave the house that our daughter will be in clothes that “kinda” match with her hair brushed because that’s a standard that I’ve set for myself. (Are you noticing a trend?) My husband doesn’t “father” the way I “mother”. When he’s solo with our kids he focuses his attention more directly on them instead of multitasking. And he would rather not try to cram too much into a weekend and overstimulate our already sensitive daughter where as I might be more prone to let that boundary slide.

Simply put, our kids need us both to parent through our instincts and gifts in order to receive a greater kind of love and in order to learn more about life than they would if one of us made all of the parenting rules. If we always had lazy weekends then they might not learn the lesson of sacrificing personal time for others. And if they grew up in a house that always had to be clean then they might not learn to give themselves grace.

What would it look like to let Dad “Dad” a little more in your house? Personally, it has given me more grace for my husband and much healthier expectations. It has also given me eyes to see his strengths more clearly than I did before.

I hope your Father’s Day was light, joyous, and meaningful. 🙂