My son bites his nails. His cuticles, to be exact. His nail beds are always red and full of hangnails. I’ve tried to educate him, threaten him, and incentivize him -- it doesn’t matter. He keeps nibbling and chewing. It bothers me. I’m getting anxious just writing about it.
I have three kids, by the way. Three little people made of my body and soul running around the world, breaking things, making noise and figuring things out. If I had one wish as a mother, I would ask for the ability to protect them from any and all pain. And yet, I’m realizing that's not my job. My job is to love them and teach them to love themselves, so they are strong enough to endure this unpredictable world.
The goal is not to be a perfect mom raising perfect kids. If it were, we’d all have to claim defeat from day one. Kids need to explore and get dirty, so that they can build up the immunities they need for physical and emotional survival. I know this, you know this, but still, many of us beat ourselves up when our kids make mistakes
I would look at my son’s nails and wonder what people thought. When my girls’ hair didn’t look freshly done, I would feel self-conscious. If my toddler wasn’t reading by a certain age, I felt like a slacker. Surely, I was ruining her life! And anytime they would have a problem of any kind, I perceived it to be a direct reflection of something I was not doing right at home.
We can become so caught up in how we think their lives reflect on ours that we forget they are little humans who need to live and learn just like we do. There’s no need to feel inadequate in any way as we observe the ups and downs they go through. We are here to guide and comfort them and to share the wisdom that we have so painstakingly learned.
Don’t pay any mind to the naysayers and the critics. You are doing the best you can. Anyone who judges you is doing so to make themselves feel better about something in their own lives.
As I grow to understand myself more, I’m learning to let go of this ‘perfect mom’ ideal. Instead, I want to be a present mom. An honest mom. A show-up-and-do-your-best mom. I don't try to be faultless or superhuman in front of my kids. I openly admit my mistakes to them, so they know that it's okay for them to make mistakes too. We celebrate accountability more than accuracy. Effort more than results.
In celebration of Mother’s Day, let go of all the worries you have about your kids and focus on the joy. Make sure you see them, I mean really see them for who they are, not who you or anyone else wants them to be. Take lessons from them. They will teach you to not take yourself too seriously and to appreciate the simple things that we adults often forget along the way. Enjoy their personalities and allow them to know you as not just a mom, but as a human being with dimensions and feelings.
Do this mom thing with the same courage that you do everything else. Throw your heart into it and expect nothing more than to experience all that it has to offer. It’s a beautiful thing when we let it be.
GG Renee Hill is a writer, blogger and soulful living coach based in the Washington DC area. She writes to help women embrace their complexity and live authentic, creative lives. You can find her sprinkling love dust daily on her blog, All the Many Layers. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @ggreneewrites.