Success As A Mom

Do you feel like a complete failure as a Mom sometimes? I know I do. Usually it’s when my kids misbehave, or when they don’t get something that I’ve been teaching them. Other times it’s when one of my kids looks at me with confusion in their eyes as I’m scolding them.

As my brain accepts more and more that I can’t control how my children behave, I’m realizing that I’m not a failure when they misbehave. That’s just my opportunity to teach them again. Success isn’t in them learning. Success for me is teaching them with patience.

So what about the times I don’t teach with patience? Am I a failure? Sometimes we think if we beat ourselves up when we don’t live up to our own expectations, then we’ll try harder. But actually the opposite happens. I like to think about how I would talk to a friend. If she came to me and said, “I feel like such a failure because I yelled at my son when he threw the game. I’ve been trying so hard to be calm when he misbehaves. I feel like I totally blew it.” I wouldn’t say to her, “You’re such a failure. When are you going to get it? He’s going to remember that moment the rest of his life. You’re totally ruining him.” But that’s often how we talk to ourselves. Instead I’d say something like, “Oh man, we all do that sometimes. It’s tough being a parent. We just want to do right by our kids. They will definitely learn some good things from us and some bad things. All we can do is say we’re sorry, and keep trying. We’re definitely learning right along side our kids.”

I know it sounds cliche, but I want to be my own best friend. I’m working on talking to myself like I would to a friend. So, I try not to tell myself I’m a failure. When I fail at something I’m trying to learn, I just keep on trying and remind myself that falling and getting back up is what life is all about.

These are the two things I try to remind myself about success as a mom: 1) success is in teaching, not in how well my kids learn, 2) success is failing and trying again.

How do you measure success as a mom?

 

Thursday Thought: Be The Mike-est Mike You Can Be

Insert any name into that thought. Monday I talked about how we so often want people to be different than they are. When we accept that we have no control over who they are, we can open up to loving them, and empower ourselves to think, feel, and act the way we want to.

A few weeks ago, we were getting ready for church. My husband was not doing things the way I would do them. I felt really upset, and told him I would just do it. You know, in that clenched, “just try to challenge me right now” tone. He decided the most helpful thing he could do was go on ahead to church and save seats. I was livid. Then I asked myself, “Why am I so angry? I love my husband. In fact, he’s an amazingly helpful husband, yet here I am livid because I’m thinking he’s so unhelpful.” I realized I was stuck in trying to get him to think like me, and do things the way I would do them. I immediately softened. I don’t want him to be me. I want him to be himself. I want him to do things differently than I do. I want him to be the Steviest-Steve he can be. He’s different than I am. He’s more relaxed and laid back. He doesn’t care very much about what other people think of him. He can make any game kid-friendly. He can bring laughter to even the most tense situations. And guess what, he doesn’t care very much about being on time to places. Some people think that’s a cardinal sin. I think it’s part of what makes him HIM.

Is there someone that has a habit that “drives you crazy”? What if you let go and said to them (in your mind), “Be the (insert name)-est (name) that you can be. You don’t have to change so I can feel better.” What if someone said that to you? Wouldn’t that feel good? Also, then it’s easier to decide how you want to feel, think, and act when they’re just being themselves, instead of hoping they’ll act one way, and being disappointed when they’re just themselves.

I Wish ______ Were Different

I was making oobleck with my nieces and nephews. My niece said, so disappointedly, “I wish it was more like slime.” 🙂 Obviously it’s not going to be like slime, because it’s not slime, it’s oobleck.

We do this exact thing with people so often. “I wish my husband cared about being on-time like I do.” Of course he doesn’t! He’s not me, he’s him. “I wish my sister would take charge at family functions like my friend’s sister does.” Of course she doesn’t. Your sister and your sister’s friend are completely unique people.

Whenever we wish someone were different than they are, we will be disappointed. Of course, people change and can become a different version of themselves, so we can make requests of people to change certain things. But if we tie our emotions to whether or not they change, we’ll almost always be disappointed. They can act however they always do. I get to decide how I want to think, feel, and act when they do.

Thursday I’ll share a thought that can help with this.

Thursday Thought: We’re On the Same Team, We Can Figure This Out

Raise your hand if you have ever disagreed with your husband about how to raise your children. Everyone, right? When I would disagree with my husband about something that had to do with the children, I realized that I would get pretty uptight and defeated about it. I was curious about this emotion and saw that it stemmed from a few thoughts, the main one being, “I’m so alone.” In my heart, I knew this wasn’t true. I knew we both just wanted the best for our children.

Now when we disagree on what to do with the kids or how to raise them, and I feel myself putting up walls and ready for a fight, I remind myself, “We’re on the same team. We can figure this out.” I can literally feel myself melt and open up. I work a lot better from those emotions.

What thoughts help you when you’re about to get up-in-arms with your spouse?

Feeling Guilty About Feeling Bad

Sometimes we make things worse by tacking emotions on emotions. Have you ever said, “I shouldn’t feel bad about that,”? Does it matter if it’s “appropriate” to feel bad? Why not just feel bad, and get curious as to why you feel bad? What thoughts are causing your negative emotion? That’s a lot more useful than just telling yourself you don’t deserve to feel bad, or you shouldn’t feel bad. It’s all about what’s useful rather than what’s appropriate.

“I shouldn’t be mad that my husband is doing his bishopric work on Sunday instead of coming home for dinner.” But you do feel mad. So you can feel guilty about it, or you can get curious, “Why am I mad that my husband wasn’t home for dinner because he was fulfilling his calling?” Maybe you’re having thoughts like, “This isn’t fair that I have to do this all alone.” or “Isn’t the church supposed to make us closer as a family?” Those thoughts are causing you to feel resentful. What thoughts could help you feel some relief? My friend was telling me about when her husband was a branch president, and for two weeks she felt a lot of resentment. Her thoughts were making her feel less close to her family. Then it just came to her to let go. She had no expectations of when her husband would be home. She had thoughts like, “I’m the best one to do this because I’m here.” “I will enjoy my family when my husband is here, and when he’s not.” “I am grateful I’m here to take care of my family so that my husband can take care of the ward.” That didn’t stop her from making requests, but she didn’t get resentful when he couldn’t fill those requests, she found other ways to meet her needs if he couldn’t.

Maybe you could thank yourself for taking care of your family so that your husband can take care of the ward. (You’re the best person to show gratitude for yourself.) Maybe you can feel gratitude for other bishops’ wives who have done just what you’re doing, so that you could have a bishop that took care of your ward.

How do you want to feel? What thoughts will help you get there? Decide to drop the guilt about feeling mad, and just get curious instead. Curiosity feels a lot better than anger and resentment, and it’s a lot more useful.

When do you pile emotions on emotions?

Thursday Thought: Family Is Where You Go to Learn How to Love and Accept Others

For some reason, we think that family is a place where a group of individuals all get along, agree, and love and accept each other no matter what. Maybe that would be the ideal, but it’s a rarity if it even exists.

When I go into a situation where I’m going to be around family, I check my thoughts. Am I expecting them to love and accept me? It’s been really helpful to change this thought to, “Family isn’t where I go to be loved and accepted. It’s where I go to learn how to love and accept others.”

Isn’t that the beauty of families? You have a group of individuals, who are connected because they were born into the same family, or adopted into the same family. You don’t choose who your family is. Sometimes you have very different lifestyles, opinions, and interests. You just get to learn to love and accept whoever they are. They may or may not return love and acceptance, but you still get to feel it, because you choose to.

UBU, I’ll Be Me

Growing up, I had a friend that had a t-shirt with this written on it. It didn’t have such a significant meaning to me until I started realizing that the way I think about people is totally optional.

What happens when you release people from behaving the way you want them to behave? RELIEF. It’s exhausting always wanting others to behave differently. We want them to clean up their clothes. We want them to love us. We want them to listen to us. We want them to open up to us.  We want them to stop throwing tantrums. We want them to get along with each other.

What if we just let others behave the way they are going to behave, and feel the way they feel? And instead of focusing on how others should behave and feel, we focus on behaving the way we want to behave, and feeling the way we want to feel?

The truth is, we can’t control how others behave and feel. Only they can. But we can definitely decide how we want to behave and feel.

How do you want to feel when someone doesn’t like you? Why do we almost always choose to feel offended? Why not choose to be confused? “That’s weird they don’t like me. I like me.” Why not choose to be understanding? “Yep, I’m not for everyone. There are people that are hard for me to like, too.”

How do you want to behave when your 5 year old throws a tantrum? Why do we almost always throw a tantrum ourselves. It’s not fun. Why not choose to stay calm? “You can scream in your room. When you’re ready to speak kindly, I’d love to hear what you have to say.”

How do you want to feel when your spouse and your parents don’t get along? (If this is you, know that it’s really common.) Why do we so often choose to feel uncomfortable, tense, and/or disappointed? We try to fix it or buffer it. Why not just let them not get along, and choose to feel love yourself? “I know it’s hard for you guys to get along. I feel confident you’ll figure it out when you’re ready to. Until then, I’m going to leave the room when you argue.”

Let me know of a time when you just accepted someone as they were, and how it felt.

 

 

Thursday Thought: It’s Not About Me

This thought is helpful to me in several situations.

When I’m going to write a blog post and I start to have thoughts like, “What if someone thinks it’s stupid? What if someone thinks I’m wrong?” I remind myself, “It’s not about me. It’s about all of the women out there this could help. The ones that are struggling and these thoughts and tools can help, just like they’re helping me.” It’s worth it to have someone judge me, so that someone else can get closer to feeling empowered.

When I don’t get invited to something and my brain tells me, “It’s because they think I’m not fun. Maybe they don’t really want to be my friend.” I remind myself, “It’s not about me. Whatever they think about me is just thoughts in their head. They may or may not be right, but they’re only thoughts and it has nothing to do with me or my worth.” I also like to throw in, “I’m not for everyone.” if I truly think they don’t like me for some reason. People don’t always want to be around others, even if they love them. It’s not about me.

When the secretary at the school is short when I bring my kids in late, and I start to think, “She probably hates me. She thinks I’m an irresponsible mom.” I remind myself, “It’s not about me. It could be something totally unrelated, and even if she is annoyed with me, it’s only because of thoughts in her brain that make her annoyed about coming in late.” She’s the one feeling annoyed. There’s no reason for both of us to be annoyed. I’m no different whether she’s annoyed at me or not.

When you know it’s not about you, you don’t have to be defensive. You can hear other people’s complaints. You can say, “Maybe you’re right.” It’s not about me. It’s about the thoughts they are believing in their brain. You can decide how you want to be, and they will be how they choose to be (consciously or unconsciously). It’s not about you.

In what situations will this thought help you act the way you want to act?

Rewrite Your Past

Have you ever told a story of something that happened in your past, and then another person that was there says something like, “That’s not how it happened. This is how it happened.”? I’ve had that multiple times with my sister. We’re close in age, so we went through quite a few experiences together.

We always view experiences through a lens. Two people could go to the same event and tell completely different stories about it because of how they perceived it. Some of the stories we tell ourselves about our past are helpful, and some of them are not.

When I was 21, I went on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For years after that mission, I told myself the story that I hadn’t been a very good missionary because I didn’t have a lot of baptisms, my mission president didn’t seem too impressed with me (another story in itself), and I gained a bunch of weight. Then one day someone asked me, “What do you think you could have done differently to be a good missionary?” I thought about it, and really I had done the best I knew how at the time. I had gotten up every day, studied the scriptures, tried my best to get along with my companion, follow the rules, and be sincere. That story totally changed my perspective. Yes, I made mistakes, but I did the best with what I knew. When I believe the first story, I feel guilty. When I believe the second story, I feel proud.

I had a friend that felt like her parents didn’t give her enough attention. She decided that her parents had just raised too many kids and weren’t able to take care of her the way she needed, and now she was being held back because she didn’t get what she needed when she was being raised. This was a very painful story for her. So instead of this story, she imagined her parents praying to know if they should have more children, and God telling them, “I want you to have this one. She is strong. I know you may not have the emotional capacity to take care of her, but if you’ll just do your best to provide for her, I can work with her when she’s older.” My friend said she’d never know if this story was anywhere near the truth, but it brought a lot of peace. She could also see how she was strong enough, and God was working with her to become who she wanted to be. The first story was painful. The second story was peaceful.

Some may say this is just telling yourself a lie. But really, it’s just a story either way, so if a story is a lie, we’re always lying to ourselves. Perhaps it’s more true than the other story we were telling ourselves.

What parts of your past do you feel are holding you back? How could you tell yourself a new story that would empower you instead?