Saturday, November 10, 2012

How do I know if I am a good mom?

First, I have decided to start blogging more. I hope this dream comes true. I want to write more and I want to capture more of our life on here... so, my goal is once a week or more. I have been inspired to share some stories...

I am so grateful for a group of ladies I get together with in a group called the Mommies' Club. We meet every other week and read the gospel for the upcoming Sunday and then we have a book we discuss. Right now we are reading Style, Sex and Substance (stories written by Catholic women bloggers) and it is AMAZING!! We also spend quite a bit of time telling silly stories about our kids (and doing impressions of them), talking about the terrible mistakes and shortcomings we have had in our vocation, and best of all, we support each other and encourage one another not to be too hard on ourselves when it comes to the all too thankless job of mothering.

I realized once again at the last Three to Get Married retreat that the world does not see the vocation and profession as full time mother as something worthwhile or something that women could ever consider themselves successful doing in the eyes of the world. I personally think women can be successful in many professions... and I include motherhood as one of those.

Because, yes, we are professionals. We have an alarm clock that goes off early, deadlines to meet, people to lead, money to budgeted, dinners to plan, clothes to organize, a house to be cleaned, and the list goes on. But, as every professional asks, how do I know I am successful? How do I know I am good at this job?

Well, first, since the good Lord hired me... I check in with Him. He's the boss. I am not sure whether the interview mentioned having three boys, but I did sign on the dotted line, so... I check in with Him every day in prayer. I offer the day to Him and then at the end of the day, I ask Him how I've done. In the silence He can tell me where I lacked in patience, where I didn't think of the other first, where I didn't pay enough attention, or where I got lazy. He reminds me to prioritize my sleep, my health, and most of all, my sacramental life. They are with me more than anyone else... my life of virtue will directly affect them... there is no way around it. I have to do my best and when I don't, I need to acknowledge it. I apologize to my kids often. In prayer, He also allows me to see the areas where I am doing well and that is always helpful too.

Secondly, I make sure not to hold myself to the standard the world has of mothers and to not compare myself to the other moms who I think are better, but to allow them to encourage me instead. I am not going to look like a swimsuit model after having three babies. I have to decide to be happy in this body. My husband helps me with this anytime I point to my belly, which has a little extra love on it, and  complain about it. His response is always the same... he tells me to take a moment and go look in the eyes of our children. And it's so true... they were so worth it. I also have to remember that the Pottery Barn homes are made for magazines, not my home. If it's kinda messy or really messy, it's OK. It doesn't make me worth less... it just means I am blessed enough to have a place that is lived in! I also have to remember that I am not the Super Nanny. She shows up, tries to fix things and then leaves. I am here all the time. I am here when things fall apart again and again... and that is OK. Everything is a work in progress. Progress is key here. Always look for the progress. Thank you, Jenny, for always reminding me that.

Third, like any other job, I believe that one of the main elements of being successful or "good" at what I do in my profession is the amount of time I put in. How often am I really "with" my kids? Am I checking out, looking at e-mail, making lists, getting ready for the next event of the day. Of course, sometimes these things are necessary, but I have to remember that it is key for our children to have us not only present, but to be really there with them... whether it be speaking with them, playing with them, dancing with them, praying with them, reading to them, surprising them with something fun, cooking, baking, being a super hero, or hiding the discomfort while getting dirty with them. More than anything else, they just want us with them, so be there as often as you can.

Fourth, we need to train them well. To love the Lord. To live kindness. To forgive. To share. To give to others who have less. I love that I still remember the things my mom taught me when I was so little. Even just the little things, like how to greet someone on the phone. This is where laziness can set in for us. Children need consistent efforts. They will test to make sure you follow through every time, so you have to. And they will learn from it. And so will you.

Lastly, I have learned that the most important thing to being the World's Greatest Mom is to love the World's Greatest Dad, their dad! More than anything else, they must see that Patrick and I are getting along and if we aren't, that we are working on it. They need to see us hold hands, hug, speak kindly to one another and about one another, and to do things to make the other happy. When arrived home last night, all the boys were cleaning up the toys. Gabriel came running to me and said, "Mom, Dad said we are doing this to put a smile on your happy face!" You could tell, that he thought that was great. This will teach them how to love one another. And one day how to love their vocation.

More than anything, I want young moms to know that they are good moms. I want them to know that they don't have to live up to the very high expectations that they have set for themselves, but to just love simply and place their profession in the hands of the Loving Father, who when they meet Him in prayer will guide them to be the best through His amazing grace. He will use us tiny instruments to make His beautiful music, so those souls entrusted to us will learn to love Him.

Tonight I pray for all mommies. I pray that God will guide us to be better. I pray that He will give us the grace we need to get through these tough days with small children, knowing that this is His will for us (otherwise, he wouldn't have given them to us!) and that our days with our little ones aren't here forever, so we will try to find the extraordinary awesomeness is our very ordinary days.

And I will end with this. Today I kept hearing my second child yell to me, "MILE AHHH ME, MILE AHH ME!!" What in the world was he saying?? What buddy? I walked to the living room to find him with my very expensive camera around his neck and in front of his little face. Oh, yes, I see now. He was telling me, "SMILE AT ME!" So today I found joy in the fact that I am one of those moms who loves taking pictures of her kids. And loves it even more when they smile at me.

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