I’ve often judged myself (or rather misjudged) as whether or not I’m a “good” mother based on how my daughter behaved. And that was not fair to me. My expectations were unreal! They were so high even I couldn’t obtain them. Get straight A’s in school; make your bed every morning; clean up after yourself as you go, that way it will not pile up on you; do your chores after school – and if it’s not done right (my way), re-do them; and the list goes on and on. Did I mention that I was a single mother? So I often used the statement, “we are a team, it’s just you and me.” I expected a young, growing child to wash dishes like I (the adult) did, not considering I’ve had years of dishwashing experience. And because I was always disappointed because my expectations as a mother were hardly reached, I stayed on this emotional rollercoaster. Pretending to be happy. Pretending to have it all together. Pretending to be in control. All the while I was an emotional wreck inside. Sometimes it showed. Most of the time, no one knew what was really going through my mind. I felt no one would understand how much of a failure of a mother I thought I was – all because my daughter rebelled?? I knew my friends had their own opinions of me – I was too overbearing; too strict; more like a military commander than a mother. Of course, all of these were my own thoughts of how I felt they felt. You see, my mind had its own way of thinking, still does in some situations. When I say I was a mess, that’s an understatement.
The moral of the story is simply this: Some mothers have their own concepts of how good of a mother they are based on their own expectations. And those expectations are not always realistic. They are too high, too demanding, unrealistic, and just down right mean! And if we don’t live up to those expectations, we consider ourselves a bad mother, a bad person, and a menace to society. Which leads to depression and a hopelessness to live. Which then leads to us not being able to fulfill our role as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend to our fullest capacity. We don’t feel worthy to hold any of those titles. And it’s all because we have such high expectations of what we think qualifies as a good mother. It’s just an unnecessary emotional rollercoaster based on feelings… self-inflicted FEELINGS.
So here’s an idea: change our feelings. Change our expectations. My therapist as says to me, “Feelings are unreliable. Look at the facts and base your decisions and actions from those.” She also says, “Let’s readjust our expectations.” And I’ve been with her long enough to know when she says “let’s”, she really means “me, not her”. LOL …So let’s give this a shot. Here’s a practical example: “I feel like my child goes against everything I say!” The fact is that we say a LOT. We have an laundry list of rules and regulations we try to enforce on our child(ren) and yet we expect them to remember them all. Hell, WE don’t even remember them ALL! It’s so overwhelming and with children, you have to be repetitive. So calm down, and realize the fact that your child(ren) does not go against everything, just some things they have to be reminded. And it’s our job as their parent to learn their learning behavior and work within those parameters to guide him/her into a positive behavior. Now that sounds like a bunch of crap!! I don’t even talk like that. Basically, get out of your feelings and learn how to listen to your child! Listening more than with your ears, but with your heart. It would be much easier if they came with instructions, but that would only make our controlling nature worse :-). We have to learn to adapt to each situation differently.
Do not hold a bad report card from the last reporting period as a grudge against our child for the next three months! I’ve heard someone say before, “fit the punishment with the crime.” My daughter would get a “C” in Math and I would revoke her TV watching privileges for a month (sometimes longer)! One time, I forgot she was on that particular punishment for almost a year, LOL… that was so unfair to my daughter. I didn’t account that my daughter struggled in Math, and instead of getting her a Math tutor, I punished her for something she had no control over. That was my mistake and it consequently caused her to be insecure about her ability to learn. I didn’t fit the punishment, if you will, with the crime. I knew she studied hard; so the “C” wasn’t a crime after all. You get my point? We as mothers make mistakes in our discipline and parenting! But that does not make us bad mothers. It makes us human.
Children have feelings too and we often suppress them from expressing their feelings. We often send them to their rooms when they cry (so we don’t have to hear the whining) as a form of discipline. And that teaches them to hold in their anger or hurt when they become adults. Believe me, they can only hold it in for so long. Just think about the time you stomped your toe and then exploded and turned into a tornado destroying everything in sight because you held in your anger from unrelated events that happened earlier (perhaps even years ago). Now when you do not allow your child to express their feelings (as long as they stay within the boundaries of respect), they will eventually act out in a way that will get your attention. You then respond in anger, irritation, pissed off and kick ass mode. And your response can only damage the situation even further. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience. You are setting yourself and your child up for failure; and instead of looking at the fact that you may have made a choice that was not the best in that particular situation, you now judge (or misjudge) yourself as a mother. Not fair! Stop doing that! Re-group, re-learn, re-focus, adjust your expectations, adjust your rules, adjust the way you parent that child. And move on. Simple as that. Or is it?