3 Things I’m Letting Go of to Become a Better Mom

by | Apr 25, 2018 | MOM LIFE

Today, as I was leaving a place full of crowded people, my two-year old threw a tantrum.  (As two-year olds are prone to do from time to time.)  I emptied my stuff-filled arms.  It seems that my hands are always full these days, especially in the middle of the crazy.  I had to put down what I was holding onto so that I could pick up my distressed daughter and hold her.  I whispered calmly into her ear, and we walked out together.

Now–it doesn’t always happen this way.  To be honest, I totally had an internal meltdown while dealing with my daughter’s very public meltdown.  Thoughts like these were among the hurricane of words in my mind:

Why now? 

Everyone is staring at me. 

What in the world do I do? 

Why do I have so much stuff? 

What does she need right now? 

This is so very embarrassing. 

WHY NOW???

Let me tell you, nothing shatters your pride like motherhood.  Especially when you are tasked to handle a tantrum in the middle of a crowd of people.  If you are type who cares nothing of what others think, by all means teach me your ways and I will take notes.  I admit that I care very much, probably a bit too much about what others think at times.  I worry about being judged, as if any of the witnesses knows anything about me or my kids and has the power to validate me as a parent.  Seems I have quite a bit of pride that needs shattering.

When I say pride, I’m not talking about a healthy sense of self-esteem.  I’m talking about the feeling that makes you put up walls for fear of humiliation and rejection.  I mean the feeling that puts up those walls to keep out shame, but actually obstructs connection and intimacy with others.  The truth is, what other people think of me is none of my business.  There is no possible way to know what they are thinking, and even if I could–that knowledge would in no way improve my quality of life or parenting.

The whole tantrum situation made me realize there are a few heavy things I’ve been carrying for a while that need to be let go, so that I can grasp what matters most.

 

The need for perfection.

I am a perfectionist by nature.  Some people are hard-driven toward perfectionism during childhood, and some are just hard-wired that way.  I am the latter.  I was the straight-A student who needed to be the best at everything she attempted.  There is nothing wrong with achievement, as long as we remember that we are more than what we do.  By the time I became a mother, I realized that perfectionism wasn’t serving me, but it took years for me to be ready to let it go. To be honest, I am still a work in progress.  When you hold yourself to super-high standards, it is difficult not to impose those standards on all of your relationships.  If there is no grace within a relationship, there can be no intimacy.  If you are disappointed when things are not perfect, who would feel safe enough to share the less-than-perfect tidbits?  Healthy relationships are built on trust and connection thrives on the ability to be vulnerable.  Some of the most amazing moments happen at the least opportune times.  Sometimes they even inspire a blog post.  See what I did there?

 

The need for validation.

Who doesn’t want to hear “you look great” or “you’re such a good mom”?  Especially after dealing with tantrums and sickness and diaper blowouts, as well as the other not-so-glamorous moments. When I quit my job to become a stay at home mother, I struggled with the fact that there were no parameters to determine whether I was actually good at this full-time mom gig.  When your self-worth is wrapped up in achievement, it is tempting to find validation in your child’s good behavior and success. There are so many times when I feel like the work I am doing does not matter because most of it is unseen.

 

Children are not raised by accident.  Parenting takes a lot of intentionality and consistency, especially in the most eye roll-inducing, mundane daily moments.  To be honest, it can be pretty freaking exhausting.  Someone once said (about childhood) that “the days are long but the years are short.”  This is so true.  I have four children.  They are generally well-behaved, but at any given moment, at least one of them could have me out in the streets looking stupid.  Especially when I have to scrape the screaming two-year old off of the ground and people are asking if everything is okay.  Or the child with social anxiety runs through the mall screaming because he spent too much time around tons of people that day.  I almost didn’t type that part, but look at me—being vulnerable and practicing what I preach here. Can I get a high five?

 

The need for control.

When I think of someone who needs control, I see a stern, austere, dictator type.  And that is not me.  But when I take a deeper look, my schedule tells another story.  My reaction to change and embarrassment tells another story.  The secret addiction I’m holding onto tells another story.  Even the slightest effort to manage others’ perceptions of us is a telltale sign that we fear losing control.  We keep calm and carry on so that we don’t look like a basket case. We take on more than we can handle so that we can prove we are capable.  We make sure our kids behave in public and brag about their achievements so that we will be seen as good parents.  We hide our flaws behind concealer, filters, and closed doors so that no one will judge us.

If no one can judge me, does that mean no one can see me either?  If no one can see me, how do I reach the connection that we’re all craving, deep down?

If you’re a bookworm like me, here is a list of books that have been extremely helpful on my journey to freedom from perfectionism.  Let me know if you’ve read these before.  I would love to chat about them with you! 

What things might you be holding onto during this season of life?  Feel free to share in the comments!

Squash your mom-guilt for good with 30 daily affirmations for when you need a little encouragement!

40 Comments

  1. Margaret Westhoff

    As a SAHM of 2 toddlers, I can so relate to you. There are times when I have to leave public places with 2 tantruming toddlers, and it’s hard not to feel embarrassed or judged. I also struggle with the need for perfection, validation, and control. I’ve been trying to let go and accept that some days will be easier than others, and that I’m still a good mom even if my kids don’t always act perfect.

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Hi Margaret, parenting is a journey much like the rest of life. You never really “arrive.” You are a good mom! Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  2. Amy @ Orison Orchards

    How true that nothing shatters your pride like being a mom! You are a great example, though, in the way you dealt with that tantrum!

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Thank you, Amy! I have so much to learn and it has been hard work. I definitely don’t always get it right, but taking it day by day is the only way.

      Reply
  3. Courtney

    I could work on all three of these areas! My son is only 8 months old, and I can already see a rising desire for my validation to come from other people, instead of the Lord. This post really spoke to me, thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Courtney, I have to really preach to myself to stay reminded of who He says I am. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Hi Laura, I can definitely relate. I dealt with a lot of rejection growing up, but healing is totally possible and worth the effort. Thank you for reading, and take care.

      Reply
  4. Hillary

    Great post! Control is the hardest thing for me to let go.

    Reply
  5. Keri @ Awaken Happiness Within

    Perfectionism is something I am working on too! As far as having a child throwing a tantrum, I like to think many people witnessing it are thinking back to when their child did the same thing!

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Good point, Keri! I’m sure I will have similar flashbacks in the next 5 years or so.

      Reply
  6. Emily @ Pizza & Pull-Ups

    I will have to check out that book, I know having to let go of my desire to plan and schedule every little thing was a tough one for me. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Thanks for reading, Emily. Brene wrote another book called Daring Greatly that is on my wish list.

      Reply
  7. corey

    I can relate big time being a mom is so hard and your right you have to pick your battles.

    Reply
  8. Jordan

    “Nothing shatters your pride like motherhood” – amen, amen, and amen! Every single one of these hit home for me. Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

    Reply
  9. Brittany

    This really hit home for me. Occasionally I hear the “You’re a good mom!” But so many things I deal with on a daily basis are unseen. Validation is a huge one for me as a momma. This is such a wonderful post and very relatable. Subscribing to read more of your stuff 🙂

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Hi Brittany, I’m so glad you can relate. These are some of the things I wish people talked more about. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Melissa, it is something I have definitely had to take day by day. Sometimes, moment by moment if I’m honest. Thank you for reading.

      Reply
  10. Michelle Ford

    Nailed it! And a big thanks for showing your authentic self. It’s important that moms can be open and honest with each other, both online and in real life. The more we do this, the more we see we’re actually more alike than we think. Then we can feel more connected and less judged. We’re all human, full of thoughts and feelings, trying to be the best moms we can be. Cheers to savoring the good moments and surviving the tougher ones. And I’ll gladly admit, I have many of those. So keep on keepin’ it real!

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Well said, Michelle! It takes a village, right? Thank you so much for reading!

      Reply
  11. candy

    Control is something I see parents struggle. To much control, to little control where is the balance. Each child is different which is a whole new topic. Never let other people control how you feel.

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Good point, Candy. Every child is different.

      Reply
  12. Andrea

    I’d never thought of it like this, but you’re right. I often struggle with my need for perfection and validation. My home is messy, not perfect. Kids rarely show verbal appreciation to validate what you do as a mom. It’s good to know I’m not the only one with these struggles!

    Reply
  13. Meagan

    SO well said. I love this. And have totally been there when motherhood shattered my pride, which probably totally needed to be done. Thank you so much for this great read.

    Reply
  14. Julie

    Thank you for sharing your heart. I can completely relate. (It’s almost as if I wrote this, although mine wouldn’ t be written this well). I find it so helpful to know that we aren’t alone in this parenthood thing and that we all struggle.

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Julie, you are so not alone. Thank you for reading!

      Reply
  15. Samantha

    The need for control is definitely true! And you can’t have everything perfect. It’s setting yourself up for failure already!

    Reply
  16. Katie

    This is such an honest and real post, thank you for sharing! I can totally relate to what you said on validation… it’s hard to feel unnoticed sometimes. But I’m so much happier when I let go of those feelings.

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Katie, every thing you do, down to the most mundane little task, is important. Thank you for reading!

      Reply
  17. Chelsea

    Thank you for sharing- as someone who hates to be the center of attention in a room full of people, it’s sometimes hard when my step daughter has a meltdown in public. I can relate completely because I too have had to let go of embarrassment to be a better parental figure. Great post 🙂

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Thanks Chelsea. I can relate to disliking that kind of attention.

      Reply
  18. Siedah | I Am Love

    The need to be a perfect anything was something I had to let go very fast. I came to understand it was my ego self that seeks perfection. Which is completely unrealistic.

    The need to control is holding on out of fear. I believe our children have us to help guide them so they can navigate this world. We don’t own them. They are their own person, with a soul and path they have to walk alone. It is our job to guide, support, and love them.

    I like the article Kat. 🙂

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Right on, Siedah. My goal as a parent is to guide them into their destiny. Letting go is a journey, but I’ve actually learned from my children in the process. Thank you for reading!

      Reply
  19. Nicole

    Wonderful article! Perfection, validation and control don’t often mark the parenting journey. But what really matters is that we do what’s right for our kids. We will make mistakes. Not everyone will agree with our parenting choices. We will many times find ourselves in situations beyond our control. And that’s okay! Our kids and our relationship with them is what matters most. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Kat Charles

      Nicole, I appreciate your insight! You are right–our relationships with our kids are indeed what matters most. Thank you for reading!

      Reply

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