how to be a good mother

My house is rarely clean.

Even if you were to ignore the piles of clutter that have been sitting for inordinate lengths of time (in some places, years!) around my house, my house would still be rarely clean.  Certain jobs I do regularly because the health of my family depends on it, such as washing dishes, laundry, and taking out garbage.  But jobs like folding laundry, sweeping, mopping and vacuuming, and decluttering — well, those often get put off, or ignored altogether (as in the case with de-cluttering).  Dust bunnies pile up in corners of floors.  Cobwebs get longer.  Windows get dirty.  Dust accumulates on furniture.

My house cannot be considered “clean” by any stretch of the imagination.  But, you know what?

I don’t care.

Should I care more than I do?  Perhaps.  But for better or for worse, I don’t.

I clean up more when company comes, but if it’s a choice between staying up late to clean and being awake to enjoy my guests the next day, I choose being awake.  I clean up when things get really dirty, and spilled messes get cleaned up right away because I don’t want the mess to get tracked all over the house and get bigger, but I’m just not overly worried about a clean house.

My house does not define me.

Now, I’m not saying everyone should live as I do, but I do think that many women in the world today use the state of their house as a definition of their success as a mother.  I don’t think that’s a good standard against which to judge one’s mothering abilities.

Mothering is so much more than just putting food on the table, doing the laundry, and keeping the house clean.  It’s nurturing and shaping little minds and hearts.  By definition, being a mother means you have a child under your care.  That child (or those children) only have once chance to be a child, and YOU are the right mother for YOUR children.  Do you really want to spend your mothering time overly worrying about the state of your house?

Okay, so mothering is about our kids.  With that in mind, should we base our success as mothers on how our children turn out?  What about children who don’t regularly demonstrate the behaviors that you want them to?  How many times have you reminded your kid(s) again and again, and how often does they do the same wrong thing again?  Or what about mothers whose kids grow up to be the kind of people their mothers really hoped they would NOT turn out to be — Are those mothers failures?  I don’t think so.

The behavior of her children should not be used as a definition for a woman’s success as a mother.

In fact, I don’t think we should hold ourselves up to “good mother, bad mother” standards at all.  All of us mothers are in unique situations with unique children, and we’re all doing the best we can.  Are we all doing the most best that we could at every possible moment?  Of course not!  That’s impossible!  We still live in a sinful world, and nothing is going to be perfect this side of heaven.  Futhermore, while perfection is a nice goal, an all-out pursuit of perfection will only frustrate everyone involved.

But God gave each mother the right children for them, and he gave them to each mother at the right time.  When we trust that God knows what he’s doing, that frees us to then focus more on raising our children rather than keeping a clean house.

And what’s our most important job to do in raising our children? (Of course, hopefully we’re raising our children with the help of the our children’s fathers.)

Our most important job is to do all we can to train up our children as Christians and teach them about the salvation won for them by Christ.

If we show them their Savior, as well as why they need that Savior, we will have done well as mothers.  Other lessons naturally go with the teachings of Christianity, such as honesty, kindness, self-control, and the like.  But those character traits can be taught without Christianity, too.  So, the most important thing we can do for our children is to teach them the truths about God.

So clean when you can, but train your child in the Christian faith even more diligently than you clean your house.  Don’t be afraid to say “no” to outside committments that drain your energy for mothering.  And don’t berate yourself for taking time for yourself, too.  Take naps. (Because honestly, how many of us mothers really get good sleep every night?  [crickets chirping]  I thought so.)  Do something just for yourself.  Call a friend.  Remember to smile.  Be good to your hubby.  And worry about a clean house when your kids aren’t living in it anymore.  🙂

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mom’s sick day

I’m currently sick.  I’ve felt this cold creeping on ever since two mornings ago (Tuesday), and today it’s really hitting me.  Curious J also woke up visibly ill this morning with a very drippy nose, although it didn’t seem to affect her mood at all.  She was still as perky and cheerful as ever.  It takes a lot to bring that girl down; even when she would be in the throes of a bronchiolitis attack during her babyhood, her pediatrician proclaimed her the happiest wheezing having-serious-difficulty-breathing baby that she had ever seen.

Me, I’m not so perky when I’m sick, especially when there’s really no one to take care of me.  I remember fondly childhood days when I stayed home from school because I was sick.  My mother would look out for me all day long, and it made me feel so safe and cared for.  We’d watch “Anne of Green Gables” together, and she would bring me things to eat and drink as I lay on the couch.  That was so lovely.  However, that doesn’t happen anymore once you’re an adult.  Solicitous as my husband is for my well-being, he’s got his own work things to take care of, and even if he could spend the day taking care of me, it still wouldn’t have quite that Mother’s Touch.  There’s something special about how a mother takes care of her sick child.

But, regardless of whether someone was available to take care of me or not, I proclaimed today a personal “Sick Day.”  I took a shower, but didn’t do my hair or put in my contacts, and I wore super-comfortable clothes.  I read more stories than usual to Curious J, and played more on the floor with her.  I spent more time on YouTube watching Jane Eyre video clips.  I ignored my big Thursday task, namely the laundry, and instead rested and relaxed as best as I could.  Thankfully, due to presentiment over my forthcoming illness, yesterday I had the wisdom to cook up one of my bags of frozen Thanksgiving turkey bones and turn it into a delicious and nourishing soup, the leftovers of which we ate today for supper (and there are still more leftovers for tomorrow! :))  There were different leftovers for lunch as well, so I didn’t need to cook a thing today, something I thought was appropriate for a Mom’s Sick Day.

This afternoon, I thought it best to take a nap while Curious J was napping, so I made myself comfortable and tucked myself into bed, expecting to rest but not really expecting to sleep.  Much to my surprise, I fell asleep quickly and soundly, and was awoken only by my toddler cheerfully calling out to me from the next room, “Momma??  Where ARE you??”

I’ve been drinking multiple glasses of warmed water all day (20-30 seconds in the microwave – I hate drinking cold water), often washing down capsules of Echinacea or Olive Leaf or Ester-C with it.  I don’t know if it’s helping, but I’m hoping today is the worst of this cold.  I expect to be more drippy and congested tomorrow, however, even though I also hope to be feeling better.  However, this cold has been behaving very different than colds usually do for me.  I suspect it’s the homeopathic constitutional remedy I took three months ago that is still working its magic.  In fact, I am amazed that it took me this long to actually catch a cold!  I made it through all of October, November and December with nothing than a one-day funny feeling, which I immediately dosed with lots of Echinacea and Ester-C with the result of feeling perfectly fine the next morning.  Despite all the stress of everything, plus despite the Swine Flu Hysteria, I never got sick!  I’m not sure why I got sick now, but I sure was overdue for a winter cold.  And, as I said, hopefully it won’t get any worse than it did today.

So, now it’s 8:45, and I’m off to bed.  With J being sick, too, I’m sort of expecting that she will need some TLC from me in the middle of the night tonight, but that goes with the territory.  Hopefully she won’t need much of anything, and perhaps she’ll even sleep through the night just fine – which would mean I would get a solid night’s sleep.  Here’s hoping!

totally and thoroughly two

Curious J is now 2.25 years old, and by definition as well as action, she is squarely in the throes of two-hood.  This is my first time experiencing a true two year old.  My older daughter never went through “terrible two’s” or “terrible three’s” or anything like that.  When Lyd was  young, she was, in many ways, a model child.  She was so easy to handle that I figured I was a superb mother, and I secretly looked down on other people whose children were less behaved than my child.  Of course, God has a sense of humor, and my second child has knocked me off my self-appointed pedestal and put me on a level playing field with all other mothers.  (And, Lyd has begun to demonstrate some odd quirks of her own that leave me mightily perplexed, so apparently she’s just a normal kid, too.)

So, I have this daughter who is thoroughly two, and my goodness, can she be exasperating!  I’m amazed at how quickly her mood can change from fair to foul, how unexpectedly she will start to hit a fellow creature whom she deems to have wronged her in some way (even if it’s just another two year old standing next to her in music class – yikes!)  She can be loud (so loud!) for no apparent reason and at inappropriate times, such as church.  (Sigh.)  A perceived wrong can cause her to fling herself to the floor in despair, or (if she’s sitting in a chair) throw her head back and howl, reminiscent of Charlie Brown on the comic strip “Peanuts.”

But, at two, she has an incredible capacity to learn, and I am amazed practically every day at what she remembers.  For example, we’ve been working on the “No screaming” thing recently, and as I’m typing this, J is sitting next to me “reading” a book.  As part of her “reading,” she screamed softly, and then said, “no screaming” before I even realized what was happening.  She’s obviously working this out in her mind, and she’s learning.

Also, this morning she noticed the two decorative snowmen figurines that grace the windowsill of our kitchen table area.  She promptly said, “snowman,” and despite having not heard the song for over a month, she began singing “Frosty the Snowman.”  Another singing development is that yesterday afternoon, I noticed her singing a new song that I introduced in music class that day.  We only sang through it 2 or 3 times in class, and yet she was repeating it back four hours later, unprompted by anything!  I started to actually sing the song with her, it’s in a “call and response” format, and J instantly started singing the response part — and even on the correct note!  I’m not surprised that her musical development is so strong, but still, it’s interesting for me to observe it.

Curious J imitates everyone, but especially her big sister.  Whatever Lyd does, that’s what she wants to do, too.  She’s good enough at sharing now that when Lyd has something J wants, I have to facilitate it so that both girls get equal turns.  For bette or for worse, when J was younger and wanted something her big sister had, we told Lyd to just let her have it, knowing that her attention span was short and she’d soon forget about it.  Well, those days have come to an end, because J can sit and read a book or do an activity for extended periods of time now.  So last night, as the girls fought over the new “Thomas the Tank Engine” book that J got for Christmas, I monitored turns in three-minute increments.  J threw a complete fit while waiting for her turn, which made me wonder if I should give her some sort of consequence for fussing so strongly.  However, to my utter surprise, once it was J’s turn with the book, she walked over to Lyd with the book in her hand, opened her arms to her sister and said, “I sorry.”  !!!!!  Yes, we’ve been working on saying “sorry” lately, but this unprompted but aptly applied apology just knocked my socks off.  Lyd graciously accepted the apology, as well as the hugs and kisses that J insisted accompany it.  Pretty soon the girls were each ensconced on two arm chairs in the living room, quietly and calmly taking turns with the two Thomas books.

So, while we still see plenty of totally two year old behavior, I cautiously say that I think we’re on the road to improvement.  I don’t think there’s quite as many tantrums as their used to be.  She’s not flipping out over “ickies!” as much as she used to, although she still wants the icky removed right away.  She’s learning more words for her feelings; besides labeling “sad” she now can also label “happy” and “surprise.”  I’ve been trying to be conscious of helping her label emotions, and it seems to be working.  She is wonderful at entertaining herself, as her sister is, a trait which I’ve attributed to my aspect of parenting I label “benign neglect.”   The only problem is sometimes the girls are too good at playing alone, especially Lyd, and I have to actively facilitate when they play together to help set up boundaries and navigate friction.  But, it’s getting better, and the girls do like to actively play together.  We brought our small outside slide indoors for the winter, and the girls both love to play on it, taking turns going down the slide as fast as they can and laughing together.

J also has quite a memory.  Now as I type, she’s reciting the entire book “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” and I do mean the entire book.  She is completely in love with all things “Thomas the Tank Engine,” and has all the names of the engines memorized; she got a stuffed “Thomas” for Christmas, and he now shares her bed every night, as well as most of her days.  She has also taken to singing our nighttime prayers at random times during the day, and she will always stop and fold her hands while she prays.

And her talking!  Oh, her vocabulary!  For a girl who only really started talking in August (five months ago), she has an amazing ability to speak.  She chatters all day long, whether she’s playing with me or playing alone.  I guesstimate that we can understand about 90% of what she says, too.  It’s just amazing to me.

I can see why parenting experts and experienced parents say that the “terrible two’s” are such a challenging time.  They certainly have their moments!  But, there is SO incredibly much growth to see, and I feel priviledged to be able to be with her day in and day out.  Despite her burgeoning independence, she still is very much a “Momma’s girl.”  We love to go places together, and she’s very easy to take places.  I really enjoy this beautiful daughter of mine (have I mentioned that she’s gorgeous?  We used to call her “Little Miss Big Eyes” when she was a baby, and we could still justifiably call her that if we chose.)

My daughter has a sunny temperament, an enthusiastic personality, a ready smile, and a large capacity to love.  She is a gift and a blessing, and I so enjoy the priviledge of mothering her.

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One more thing: You may know that we are big Green Bay Packers fans at our house.  (Well, I’m probably better labeled as “Packer sympathetic” rather than a Packer fan, although I was as upset as anyone else over the missed facemask call on the final play of the Green Bay-Arizona game last Sunday.)  My husband is an avid Packer fan, and he loves to get our daughters on board as Packer fans, too.  He taught J the Packer chant: “Do-do-doo, duh do-do-doo – Go Pack Go!” and she often goes around the house chanting that.  ANY football game she sees on the TV is immediately a Packer game, in her mind, and she yells at the screen, “Go Packers!  Touchdown!  Oh, yeah!”  It’s hysterically funny; even my husband had no idea how enthusiastic of a fan J would become.  And anytime she sees anything with a Packers “G” on it, she immediately starts saying the Packers chant.

This caused a problem two Sundays ago when we were in Wisconsin and attending Sunday morning worship at a church in Green Bay where a friend of my husband’s is pastor.  My husband and I were standing in line at the front of church, waiting to be ushered forward for communtion.  J was in my arms, and while we were standing in line, she noticed a member of the congregation wearing a Green Bay Packers jacket.  So, what does she do, while standing in line up in the front of church?  She says, quite clearly but not too loudly (although certainly  not whispering), “Do-do-doo, duh do-do-doo – Go Pack Go!”  Poor JJ and I were probably not in the appropriate frame of mind to receive the Lord’s Body and Blood after that, but it was pretty funny!

a good momma-daughter memory

I am always re-evaluating my mothering.  Am I doing enough for my children?  Am I providing a good example for them?  Am I cooking healthy food?  Am I adaquately stimulating their minds?  Am I letting them watch too much TV?

These kinds of questions occur on a regular basis, and, of course, there’s always room for improvement in my mothering.  But I recently read something in a magazine that got me to think about my mothering in a new way.  Rather than focusing on what I don’t want to be as a mother, perhaps it would be better to focus on what I do want to be as a mother.  In other words, focus on positive goals, not negative outcomes.

I was proud of myself for putting that adjusted perspective into practice earlier this week.  With Lyd’s birthday coming up, she needed some kind of birthday treat to take to school.  In trying to come up with a special treat idea, I suggested making cut-out cookies.  Lyd was instantly excited and enthusiastic about this idea, even as I quickly calculated the amount of work this idea would involve.  But, then also I realized that this would provide some good momma-daughter bonding time in the kitchen, and really, isn’t it a classic epitome of motherhood – to bake and decorate cookies with your child?

So, I found a good cut-out sugar cookie recipe (thank you, Betty Crocker’s Christmas Cookbook!), and on Monday night we made cookies.  Both of my girls helped me mix up the cookie dough.  I even silenced my objections and told Lyd, “Yes, you can measure the flour out all by yourself.”  (And I forced myself not to mention the flour that ended on the counter and on the floor and on my brown shoes.)  Lyd measured the flour, and Curious J happily dumped it in.  (We’re working on taking turns right now; this provided a good opportunity to practice this necessary skill.)  They alternated adding the other ingredients in, and after mixing it all together (during which time Lyd taught Curious J to cover her ears when I was using the electric hand mixer – thanks, kid), I gave each kid a beater to lick off.  A classic mother-daughter(s) moment in the kitchen – helping Mom mix up a batch of cookies and then licking off the beaters afterwards.

(I should note that the mixing of the dough occured whilst the soundtrack to the movie “The Sound of Music” was blaring in the living room.  About a month ago, I introduced that movie to Lyd, and she has completely fallen in love with it.  She’s already knows “Do-Re-Mi” by heart – all five minutes of it.  Like grandmother, like mother, like daughter.)

Later on, after the dough had cooled a bit in the fridge and Curious J had been put to bed, Lyd and I cleaned off the counter, brought out the rolling pin and more flour, and proceeded to roll and cut out cookies.  It was actually kind of fun to work with Lyd, to teach her how to position the cookies as close together as possible so as to roll out the dough as few times as possible.  It created quite a good memory, and Lyd was delighted to have some one-on-one time with her momma rolling out and cutting out cookies.

The next night, we put a tired and cranky Curious J to bed early again, and Lyd and I iced and decorated the cookies we had made the previous night.  All we had for non-Christmas sprinkles were pink, yellow, and some kind of small pastel-colored flowers, and we made liberal use of them all.  When her Kindergarten teacher saw the cookies the next day, she said, “Those are very Lydia-ish cookies.”  And they were!  We had so much fun decorating them, spending time together, and enjoying being together.

(Of course, Lyd especially didn’t mind when, for her bedtime story that night, I told her the story of her birth.  She absolutely loved hearing it, and she was still talking about it the next day.  I sense the beginning of a tradition…)

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It was not my first choice to make such labor-intensive cookies with my daughter for her birthday.  It would have been easier to just whip up some basic chocolate chip cookies, and frankly, she probably would have been content with those.  But, I’m glad that I suggested doing something special.  I’m glad I put forth the effort to be the mom I would like to be, rather than taking the simpler route.  Because the fact is, I do take the simpler route frequently, and most of the time I’m completely content and pleased with myself for doing that.  (ie. I rarely make our beds, I use boxed mac & cheese, I use store-bought bread (although I buy quality bread), I don’t clean my floors as often as they could stand to be cleaned).  However, this time was special.  This wasn’t just a hum-drum ordinary task, one that if I cut corners on, no one would even notice.  This was my daughter’s birthday, and I feel certain that she will remember these cookies, and definitely remember this experience.  Plus, I’ve created a template in her mind for what Making Cookies With Momma should be like.  That’s a good thing, and worth taking time for.

She was so happy to pass out her cookies to her schoolmates on her birthday!  I know, because I was there.  And they were delicious cookies, too.  (Thank you, Betty Crocker!)  I’m glad I put forth the extra effort to make the experience memorable for Lyd.

Her delight over the experience made it truly worthwhile.

good ol’ fashioned mothering days

I’ve been quieter here lately.  My blog stats certainly demonstrate that.  My emphasis on getting to bed earlier, trying to make good little choices with my time, and the general busy-ness of this fall, has made my presence on this blog a little less than it had been over the summer.  Thought-full posts take time, and when I’m choosing where to spend my time, I’m not always chooing my blog anymore.  I still think the deep thoughts, and I think, “This would make a good blog post,” but the thoughts just don’t make it out of my head as much as they used to.

For example, I know I had some good posts knocking around in my brain lately, but tonight I’m too tired to let any of them out.  I’m really tired.  Curious J’s lingering cold finally gave up the fight and slipped into bronchiolitis on Friday.  So, both she and I had a wretched night of sleep on Friday.  She coughed and coughed; on average, she coughed every 3-4 minutes all night long.  I should have started breathing treatments with her that night (it frustrates me that my brain is so fuzzy in the middle of the night – the solutions that seem so obvious the next morning never occur to me at 2am.), but I didn’t bring out the nebulizer and Xopanex until the next morning.  I was going to try to take her the doctor the next morning, but because it was Saturday, I couldn’t get her in.  Thankfully, when I checked my stash of old prescription medications, I still had a bit of oral steroids left over from her last bronchiolitis attack in spring, which I rationed out over the weekend (in much smaller doses than she should have been getting, but I had to make the best use of the little I had).  I already had plenty of Xopanex (and 2 refills available), so once I started her on the bronchiolitis protocol, she started breathing better and coughing less.

Last night (Saturday) she still coughed, but it was a lot better.  In fact, she slept straight through from midnight to 8am (which meant I slept, too!  Yay!).  Despite the sleep, I’m still pretty tired and groggy.  Curious J is better as far as her persistent coughing goes, but she’s still got a lot of chest congestion and wheezing, plus she got the last of the steroids tonight.  So, tomorrow (Monday), I plan to take her to the pediatrician and make sure we’re on the right track towards getting rid of the bronchiolitis.

I’m disappointed that she got bronchiolitis again, but I’m trying to look on the bright side; at least her body fought the bug for over two weeks before giving in.  In the past, once she’s gotten a cold, it’s turned to bronchiolitis in less than 48 hours.  I know the homeopathy helps, and I need to be more focused on giving her daily doses of the lung-strengthening remedy when she’s fighting a cold (which I didn’t regularly do.)  I don’t know if her bronchiolitis is all my fault, but I know I could have done a little better.  Sigh.

Amazingly, despite the entire school plus every member of my family getting sick, I still haven’t gotten sick (knocking frantically on wood).  This is unheard-of for me, but I’m very grateful.  My throat feels a tiny bit funny tonight, so hopefully more Vitamin C and lots of sleep will help with that.

A few Facebook friends of mine are dealing with swine flu.  It got me thinking about formulating a plan, just in case we all get it at our house.  Mainly, it means having some chicken broth prepared and stored up in the freezer.  I used up the last of my frozen broth two weeks ago when JJ came home sick from WI.  I think I’ll start buying a whole chicken this week just so that I can make a batch of my yummy homemade broth again.  I also want to make sure we have Pedialyte, crackers, and other easy-on-the-tummy foods stocked in the pantry at all times.  But, I usually try to keep at least a bottle or two of Pedialyte on hand anyway; I’ve learned that when you need it, you don’t have time to go out and get it.

Despite the difficult, tiring weekend, I am so thankful for my lovely daughters.  Even when Curious J is sick, she continues to be her (mostly) cheerful self.  Lyd has helped out a little more recently, too, which I’ve appreciated.  There’s a lot of sacrifice involved in mothering, and it’s makes it a little easier when you’ve got two cuddly little girls giving you hugs and kisses.  I made it a point to make hugs and kisses a daily part of our routine when they were babies, and I’ve enjoyed seeing first Lyd and now Curious J begin to reciprocate those behaviors as part of their perception of “normal.”  It makes me feel that, despite how I daily fail as a mother, that I’m doing at least one thing right.  I do love my girls.

happy homemaker?

Last Thursday, while waiting in the lobby at Lyd’s dance class, I picked up the local Bay Area Parent magazine and read their cover article.  Since Mother’s Day is around the corner, the article was about how today’s mothers parent compared to their mothers.  It was mildly interesting, although it didn’t scratch the surface too much on any one aspect of mothering.  But one comment by a grandmother struck me, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.  She said, “All I ever wanted to be was a mother and a homemaker.  I wanted to cook and clean, and I put my energy into making a beautiful, peaceful home for my husband and children.”

Really?  [Emily is amazed.]  Wow.

I’m just not that kind of mother, I guess.  As a child, I don’t remember playing house at all, although I suppose I must have at some point.  I always assumed I would marry and have children when I grow up, but I never imagined it out.  (I also assumed I would have sons, because that’s what a good wife does — has sons for her husband.  I’m not sure exactly where I picked up that patriarchal attitude, but I married a man who does NOT feel that way, and who would be perfectly happy if we only have daughters.  God has a sense of humor!)  I never looked at pictures in magazines to dream about my perfect house.  I never even particularly wanted to learn how to cook when I was growing up.  In fact, I remember that when I got married, I was more than a little nervous at the idea that I would have to cook! every night! for my husband!

To tell the truth, I feel … stifled if I spend the whole day in the house, doing nothing but house-wifely things, like cooking and cleaning and making the home “beautiful.”  Doing the housewife thing is … boring.  It’s just not me.  I will never be content to “just” be a housewife.  I guess I always knew that there were women out there for whom home is enough, but reading this unknown woman’s statement in this article made a strong impression on me.  I haven’t been able to get the idea of “being completely content at home” out of my head.

It’s probably made more of an impression because I’m really trying to catch up on some homemaking chores.  I’m trying to de-clutter and organize, plan meals better, get to bed earlier, spend less time on the computer — and all of it is boring to me.  It’s very frustrating, because I feel like I’m failing somehow as a mother, precisely because I DO find it boring.  What’s wrong with me?  Why am I not more content to just be at home, playing House Beautiful and cooking health, fresh fare for my family?

Thankfully, JJ says I have to be who I am.  He says he didn’t marry Martha Stewart or any of the women that we know who seem very content to be housewives at home.  He says that he married me, and that he has never been sorry.  Whew!  I am grateful for him.

I am also incredibly grateful for my wonderful part-time job, my job that surrounds me with mothers who are in the same boat I am, raising children who are the same age as mine.  I am so grateful that God dropped this job in my lap 6 years ago.  It has been a gift to me and to our family in so many, many ways.

But when I hear about what other mothers are doing, mothers I know personally and mommy blogs I read on the internet, I inevitably start comparing my life to theirs.  (Always a bad idea, of course.)  I see all the things I could be doing, changes I could make, and I think, “If I do ____, then I would be a better mother, a more perfect homemaker.”  And, truthfully, they’re all good ideas.  But what I don’t know the answer to is: When is it enough?  When have I done enough?  I struggle with the “mommy guilt.”  I’m not making EVERYTHING we eat from scratch – should I be?  My house is not organized all that well – should I beat myself up about it?  If I put my mind to it, if I just tried to focus a little harder, if I just stopped always being distracted for TEN MINUTES then I could [do some other good thing that would benefit everyone].  There’s always something to feel that I could be doing better.  I don’t know where the line is between things I should truly be feeling guilty about, and things that I should just let go.

I told JJ about this, and he said, “Show me where it says in the Bible that you have to do [all these things].”  He’s right.  The most important thing I can do is to train my children up to know and love and trust in God as their Savior.  The rest of it will always be imperfect, will always be tainted by sin, no matter how hard I try.  JJ reminded me that when God made me, he made me just the way I needed to be and said “It is good.”  And, JJ reminded me of something a psychologist said to me years ago; I have to learn to “love the disease.”  I need to love myself for who I am, flaws and all.  There’s only so much I will ever be able to change about myself, and in order to be the best wife/mother/homemaker/music teacher that I can, I need to be authentically me.

It’s a struggle, to be sure.  There’s plenty of room for improvement.  But, I’m trying to hold on to the fact that if I can teach and provide my children with a good example of trusting in Jesus and loving themselves as children of God, I think I will be doing okay as a mother.  The rest of it?  Well, I’ll still keep trying to be better, but I’ll try not to beat myself up so much about the things that don’t happen, despite my good intentions.