When I became a mom at 23, I fell madly in love-with my son and with motherhood. It was so exhilarating to have work to do that I adored so much. I loved the snuggles, the dressing and diapering, the spit up cleaning. Not even getting up a million times a night phased me. I loved it all and thought “I had no idea that I was put on Earth for this!” I had never watched children before and had taken only a superficial interest in the nieces and nephews I saw infrequently, so the ease with which I adjusted to motherhood shocked me.
Then one day, I woke up and my baby was gone and in his place was a real live toddler. A tantrum throwing, smart-enough-to-know-better, potty training toddler. And I was clueless. My love hadn’t gone anywhere. I knew how to love, that part came so naturally, but I soon realized that I did not know how to discipline or set boundaries. And I also realized that those things become awfully important when you’re parenting a toddler!
Early on, I recognized that I wanted obedient and respectful kids and that I didn’t know how to do it. So I have studied. I have researched. I have watched moms who obviously know what they’re doing and asked questions. I have called my sister and my mom to ask advice. I’ve read books and yes, I’ve googled “how to get your child to obey”! Not my proudest moment.
But let me tell you this- I am trying every day to be the best mom I can be. We all are, aren’t we?
I have learned techniques that work for my family, put systems in place to deal with specific issues, and developed habits to keep me on track. And now that I’m onto my third toddler, discipline comes much more naturally. But the reality is that while some parts of motherhood come naturally to me, discipline is one thing that does not. It takes a lot of intentionality on my part to do this aspect of mothering well.
I used to feel embarrassed by this, like I wasn’t good enough of a mom. But here’s the truth: no mother is naturally wonderful in every area of motherhood. Let’s face it, mom’s do a lot! We are nurses and counselors, cooks, cleaners, encouragers, friends, teachers, coaches- how could one woman be good at it all? For some, the discipline does come easy, but the creativity is difficult. Or slowing down and just enjoying your child’s presence is hard. For others, the emotional toll of caring for children is overwhelming.
So let’s be gracious to other moms, knowing that we all have our own unique struggles and our own unique strengths, as women and as mothers. And if you are struggling to love or to discipline, to teach or enjoy, give yourself grace too. Keep loving those kids, keep studying to be better where you know you’re not great, give yourself a pat on the back for the parts of motherhood you excel at (yep, we all have those too). You alone are your kids’ mom and if you love them enough to torture yourself for each mistake you make, you are doing a great job, mama!