So, if you want the gist of this post in one sentence, here it is: Mamas, get in the habit of counting your victories, big or small, instead of always focusing on your failures.
Ok, technically you can stop reading because that’s what this whole post is about. But, you may want to read about how after months and months of asking I finally let my daughter get 9 inches of her hair cut off last week. I thought so. Read on.
There are two things, well actually there are several, that no one tells you when you have a baby and become a parent.
One is that letting those once little, helpless, needy people start to grow up and do things independently is hard.
Hard. Nerve wracking. And full of second guessing. It starts off with little things (Which is where I’m at right now.) like spending time at a friend’s house without you being there, driving in someone else’s car, and the first sleep over. Before you know it, they are operating dangerous vehicles (driving) and kissing boys on the mouth (Not until she gets married I hope.)!
Second is that everyone tells you what a great mom you’ll be. Yet, you spend so much time feeling like MOM FAIL should be permanently stamped across your forehead.
I get it. I’m in the trenches of parenting right now. Half the time I have no clue what I’m doing. I ask God for wisdom. I pray and seek the advice of wiser women than me. I do A and B and then my kid does Z, not C. He (or she) does not fit the mold. I feel like I fall short, so short.
I’m here to tell you and really myself: Failing is part of the deal. Though, you are probably not doing as bad you think you are doing. (Moms, we can be the hardest on ourselves.) But failure is going to happen, so you have to take and celebrate those parenting victories when they come.
Parenting is all about getting to the heart of your child. And thankfully, I don’t have to wonder if that is a good parenting strategy or not. (“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). ) Every child is different and the journey to get to their hearts is going to be different. God is faithful and when I’ve done what I know to be right as a parent and it doesn’t work, He picks me up and we try again. And when I haven’t done right by my kids and have not done what is best, He picks me up and we try again.
So when those parenting victories do come, celebrate them! And here’s my little victory.
Lulu has been asking, no begging, me to let her cut her hair short. Kit short. (American Girl doll reference.) This has been going on for more than 6 months.
At first it was an adamant, “No. Your long, beautiful, blonde hair? I don’t think so.”
After awhile it became, “When you’re older.”
Then eight came along and it seemed as if older had just parked itself in my driveway and was laying on the horn.
There is so much my daughter cannot do on her own. She’s eight! There are many decisions she is not ready to make without our parental help. But where does the independence start? I can’t let all 5 fingers of my grip on her relax when she turns 18, all at once.
It was once described to me (by parents older and wiser) that it starts with a finger. Just one. We let part of our grip go. Finger by finger, over the years, we slowly ease our hold until we let go completely and they fly on their own.
This hair cut was my pinky relaxing.
I chided myself a bit. “Jen, it’s hair. It’s just hair!”
The haircut wasn’t a bad idea; it just wasn’t my preference.
As Lil sat in the chair at Christi’s that day, I’ve never seen her so excited. My heart skipped a beat (for real) with the first chop. “This is really happening!” She gushed.
Christi cut off 9 inches of beautiful, blonde locks and is donating it to Locks of Love.
It made Lulu so happy that she was bubbling over and she looked adorable. I immediately said, “Oh, we should have done this months ago.” I can admit when I’m wrong.
I relayed this story to another mom in my church whose kids are grown. She has such wisdom and I do look up to her. She said to me, “Good job, Jen. That’s a notch in your mommy belt.”
She might as well have given me an A+ at the top of my paper with a shiny sticker. Her simple words of encouragement made me feel so good. It was a victory and someone else had noticed. I hadn’t thought of it in that way until she said those words.
So let me be that mom for you. Think about something you’ve done well as a mama this past week. Now, put a little notch in your mommy belt and let me tell you, “Good Job!”
You can do this. And do you know why? God knew that no one could be a better mom to your kids than you. We are not perfect; but we are the perfect mamas for our kids.
“The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out” (Proverbs 20:5).
“The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double- edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)