There will be fights to break-up, messes to clean-up and tantrums to sort-out. I will have one child who wakes up too early, another who doesn’t like the food they’re given and yet another who just can’t seem to stop bugging his brother. But really, what can I expect? Our job as mothers isn’t to bring up perfect kids. There’s more and more research uncovering the detrimental effects that perfectionism and our expectations around it, have upon our children, but what about on us?
When I find myself getting tense or upset, it’s usually because I hear one of those “shouldn’ts” creeping into my head, one of those self-judgments about my less than perfect life: “my kids shouldn’t behave this way”, “my house shouldn’t be such a mess”, “we shouldn’t be late”, “my kids shouldn’t eat that junk, …use those words, …be so rude, etc, etc.” Honestly, I could should myself to death. “Shoulds” are not accepting, or loving or forgiving. They don’t encourage me to learn from my mistakes, or allow me space to even make the mistake in the first place. They are critical, judgmental, and hover over me like the worst kind of helicopter mom.
I had a clinical supervisor once who used to say regularly, “We must trust that people are doing their best all the time.” That isn’t to say that we’re all perfect, just that we are all trying our best. So on Sunday, when one of my 3 boys just can’t seem to stop wiggling at the table, instead of thinking “he shouldn’t ” or some variation of that, I hope I can take a deep breath and shove that shouldn’t right out of my head and trust that that little guy really is doing his best. My job as his mom isn’t to “shouldn’t him” for his behavior, or even “shouldn’t myself” for his behavior, but to relax and know that this is all part of the journey of bringing up kids. To smile and love him for his wiggles, and to simply remind him to try his best. If I can trust that we are all doing our best, and let go of my need for any part of the day to be perfect, or even close to it, then this really will be the best Mother’s Day yet , for I will have given and received one of the best gifts of all: Trust.