February 28, 2014

mom guilt and love

Someone recently was teasing me about my blog by saying that I think I have all the answers when it comes to parenting. That is certainly not true and I know that more than anyone. I just love to write down my thoughts and impressions as they come to me about ways that I've seen I can improve and lessons I've learned. So, here's another post about that! :) I hope you will be gentle with me as I express these feelings. I've edited this post at least a dozen times because I'm so worried that someone will misinterpret my expression of what I'm trying to say. Please know that the place I am coming from is filled with good intentions and wanting to spark an awareness within myself of ways I can improve because, while I know I'll never be perfect, I want to always work toward being the best mother I can be.

I recently started taking parenting classes that I found at my local library. It was really insightful and wonderful to be in a classroom again - without grades, tests or homework! I loved the discussions about parenting techniques. In one of the classes a couple of weeks ago, the instructor was teaching us about brain development in children from birth - 5 years. She explained about "critical windows" of your child's development and how if we miss those moments, they are gone forever. She talked about babies crying, nurturing discipline and learning through play. It was all really interesting and I started to take a personal inventory of how many minutes a day I was spending on each thing. I started to feel like my 3 books at bedtime weren't enough. That my carefully selected toys weren't educational enough. Maybe I had let my baby cry too often when he was 6 months old? Maybe I should be making more sensory bins for my toddler and maybe, just maybe, my entire mothering technique was wrong!?
I started to feel really low as I sat in front of my curriculum explaining all the things I should and should not be doing. For the most part, I've felt like I'm a pretty good mom but, in that moment, I was starting to doubt it. Just as my pregnancy hormones started to kick in, and my eyes started to well with tears, I felt warmth all over my body and this clarity that God was telling me that I am giving my children the most important thing: love.

Please don't misunderstand me by thinking that I am saying that by using sensory bins or reading a dozen books in an afternoon to your child, you don't love your children. I'm saying quite the opposite. Of course we love our children by teaching them and guiding them to find knowledge and self-confidence! My job as a mother is to teach, but not just to teach counting and proper grammar. My responsibility as a mother is to teach my children how to be responsible, kind, selfless, loving, smart, curious and faithful. I think the best way to do that is by encouraging my children to learn and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. By teaching them and by showing them love, I will do just that. I can teach a thousand lessons of modeling colors and shapes, sequencing blocks and sorting fuzzy balls into muffin tins (and those things are good!) but the "best part" is teaching my child how to love. I've said it once and I'll say it again: life is about relationships. I believe so strongly that the example of Jesus' life on the earth taught us that.

“Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life. The mother's image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child's mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security; her kiss, the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the world.” - David O. McKay

You better believe that I will keep trying to help with algebra homework I don't understand, read another story when I feel like I don't have time, and be a "mean mom" when it comes to choices and consequences, but I am already doing the most important things. I may not do them perfectly but that is my focus. I think that instead of spending so much time trying to think of interesting lesson plans and stressing about developmental activities for my kids (which I have done in the past), I should be implementing lessons of patience and kindness through the way I am their mother (and yes, you can do both - which, for me, is the ultimate goal). I want to feel less guilt about not doing all the creative activities that I've pinned and feel satisfied by the things that I am doing right.

I guess I'm writing this for myself, since I like to read through my blog books from time to time, but I'm also writing this for my daughters and daughters-in-law. For my friends too and probably also for my future self when my kids are grown and I've forgotten how hard it is to be a mother of young children. I know that we all have mom guilt. We all shame ourselves for snapping at our whining child who asked one too many times for a cookie while we make dinner. We shame ourselves for taking a little too long in the shower to shave our legs and shouting when we see Sharpie on the furniture. We shame ourselves for being a little too brisk in our bedtime routine or being less patient with our screaming toddler than we swore we ever would be before we became a mother ourselves. We sometimes go to bed at night and just cry because we feel like we're failing. I know I do and I know I'm not alone, which gives me a small sense of comfort. What I want for every mother who is trying so hard to be the kind of mother she always dreamed about, is to just keep trying your hardest. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail, but the most important thing is just to love.

Also, this talk... I have a testimony of it.


  1. I totally agree with everything you wrote! Amen! Great post!

  2. Dear Lizzy, there are no experts when it comes to raising children. You do the best you can with what you have and VOILA they grow up despite any mistakes you make along the way. All you can do is exactly what you are doing. Start each day seeking to be the parent Christ wants you to be...God, in his infinite wisdom, has given us all the tools we need. We just need to be open to his plan and it is plain that you are. Enjoy these times, they will be gone in the blink of an eye. That is my only regret from raising my children...that I did not relax and enjoy them more.

  3. What a beautiful post. We all need the reminder of what it means to be a mother. The quote and the talk you mentioned are both some of my favorites. I had such lofty "mother goals" before I became a mother, and sometimes it's hard to admit reality. I whole-heartedly agree that mothering is love...and that's enough.
    I recently found your blog and love your recipes...and then it slowly came together that you are Nie's sister in law! I felt like I kind of knew you already from her blog. :) Your blog and your boys and you yourself are darling!

  4. I love it, thanks for the inspiration. My daily mantra lately is that quote about when I feel like Im having a bad day and am particularly stressed I realize my track record for making it through those kinds of days is 100% and thats pretty awesome. Everyday we just got to get up an do OUR best, not comparing ourselves to others. Endure to the end, I hope I can. :) Love you.

  5. I loved this post! I love hearing from other moms who are trying to do their best and sharing what has and hasn't worked for them. We are all doing this parenting thing for the first time and sometimes we will feel success and other times we will have to say we will try again tomorrow, but the most important thing like you said is to love our children and teach them of Christ. You are a good mom Liz and admire you!

  6. Elizabeth...you are an amazing mom and have your priorities spot on! I love reading your blog because it is a joy to read of your great parenting, loving, and enjoying life. You are living so you won't have regrets! Hope you aren't too hard on yourself, because you are living from the heart and teaching the most essential things!

  7. Elizabeth...you are an amazing mom and have your priorities spot on! I love reading your blog because it is a joy to read of your great parenting, loving, and enjoying life. You are living so you won't have regrets! Hope you aren't too hard on yourself, because you are living from the heart and teaching the most essential things!

  8. I kept wanting to comment but I refuse to attempt the frustration of doing it via iPhone. Now I can't remember anything I wanted to say, so I'll just say I love your face--Your momming it top notch--You inspire the heck out of me and I can't wait to SQUEEZE you. That is all.


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