5 Ways to Be a Really Great Mom (When You Feel Like a Bad One)

Now that I’ve been a parent for 23 years, I realize that all my good intentions about what kind of parent I was going to be before I actually had children was a lot more intention and less reality.

The truth is, it seems so simple (and in some senses it is) to be a great mom until you’re in the thick of it and suddenly, “What. on. earth??!!”

To begin with, no two children are alike. Ever. (I kept having them to see, and you can trust me on this one.) There is nothing like diversity to throw your one-size-fits-all parenting askew.

Also, when you’re anticipating parenting, before you actually are one, there is so much less life to live, so much less stress somehow, less distractions, and more of you.

So then, you wake up one day to find yourself in survival mode, trying to keep the children alive, and somehow, this is not how you envisioned motherhood would be.

So when it comes down to it, what does it take to be a really great mom anyway?

What is the best thing you can do for your kids? Today? How can you leave the kind of legacy where people (especially our children) remember the important things about you?

  1. Love your kids deeply and don’t fret about your imperfections. God made kids extraordinarily forgiving (He probably knew, don’t you think?) and they really do remember more of the good than the bad. So when you blow it, ask forgiveness sincerely, but don’t beat yourself up about it. That will rob you of the energy you need to be a great mom going forward. If you love them deeply, they know that. They will look over your weaknesses probably more than you.
  2. Don’t get so bogged down with trivial things in life that you forget to laugh. Laughing speaks volumes to your children. It tells them you’re OK (and that is sooooo important to children). It tells them you enjoy them and that you like being where you are. It tells them you are grateful. Is there a greater gift we could give them than modeling gratitude? And laughing is good for you too, so try to do it more.
  3. Let them into your life. Do you know what I mean by that? So we’re busy and there are lots of things going on and it’s so tempting to want to push them aside while we do our things or to trivialize what’s important to them because it isn’t important to us. Do you understand the difference it will make, in your child’s eyes, if you care about their frog stories? Or their colored picture? Or if they’re older, maybe even things you wish they didn’t care so much about? When you stop and listen and tell them with your face that they are important to you, you will become important to them.
  4. Take a lesson from Horton the Elephant: Mean what you say and say what you mean. It will make yours and their lives so much more peaceful. We spend half our time in frustration because we announce our expectations, our children test us/don’t take us seriously/goof around/whatever and then we don’t follow through with consequences–not real ones. We DO yell and fuss and fume and pout. But those aren’t the reactions that make us great moms OR change the situation. (Dear Lord, pleeeeeaaase help me remember this one!) If you tell them to clean up the kitchen and they don’t, just calmly announce that they have lost x privilege because they didn’t take you seriously and “now go clean up the kitchen.” Or your consequence of choice. They will respect you for it and you can parent with more calmness instead of chaos.
  5. Pray for them and pray with them and pray around them. Give them the gift of a praying mom. I promise you, when the going gets rough (and it likely will), you’ll be the first one they come to.

Now we can do those things, right? We won’t do them perfectly, but we can commit to doing them more and more until they become habits and we are rocking the Mom Life.

 

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15 Responses to “5 Ways to Be a Really Great Mom (When You Feel Like a Bad One)”

  1. Kim M says:

    Such a great post, Kelly!

  2. Rebecca says:

    I found this so helpful. Thanks!!

  3. Magriet says:

    “I kept having them to see, and you can trust me on this one.” LOVE your sense of humour! 😀

  4. Karly Chittenden says:

    Thank you for the encouragement 🙂
    Yours is a blog I actually hop over to READ! I get many in my inbox from other mom sites, but would rather get a few meaty/helpful post like yours, than a whole lot of “blah” all day long from others! Because we don’t have time for a bunch of “blah,” now do we? 😉
    Thank you for not wasting your words or my time! I appreciate your meaningful exhortations!

    • Kari Collins says:

      I agree wholeheartedly! Thank you for the posts that always seem to be worth reading.

    • Ah Karly, that was super encouraging to me! My time is so limited now, you probably notice you *don’t* get a whole lot from me in your inbox. It is because of that–I only want to say something that is meaningful, for all our time’s sake, otherwise, I just stay quiet. 😉 I worry about not posting enough, so this was very helpful to me.

  5. Natalie says:

    Very encouraging, thanks Kelly!

  6. Natalie says:

    Thank you Kelly, so good! I had one child for 10 years, and I was able to fulfill many of those intentions. But now, 20 years and 4 young children later, I am often grieved at my lack of ability to be the kind of parent I desire to be. Obviously, knowing I couldn’t do anything of spiritual value apart from God’s grace…I talking about the the practical things like reading aloud for more than 2 minutes without interruption!! I have to cling to the truth of God’s sovereignty. We can rest in Him. He knows our struggles, He knows our limitations, He knows we are but dust.

  7. Mrs L says:

    Thank you Kelly. God bless you as you imperfectly mother your children for His glory!! (That sounds tongue in cheek, but it isn’t meant to be!)
    I needed this post very much today.
    I sometimes joke that I have more than the average amount of children so as to spread the effect of my imperfections around a bit- wouldn’t want all that imperfection focussed on just one or two children!
    But truly, the weight of my imperfections can weigh very heavily on my spirit sometimes. I have been meditating on the fact that the woman in Proverbs 31 laughs at the days to come- so thank you also for the reminder to laugh!

  8. Diana says:

    Thanks so much for this post, Kelly! It was perfect timing for me – I have been falling flat on my face in practically every of these areas, something that happens every time that I fall prey to the efficiency “get-it-DONE-NOW” mode. I have to remind myself constantly to slow down and actually enjoy my children, instead of being a super-stressed mess of a mom. Your reminders are very timely.

    Blog on!

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