What I learned as I Muddled through Motherhood

As a parent, we’ve all felt inadequate at some point in time.  We muddle along in a half daze improvising and making do with what we know and have learned along the way.  Sometimes it feels as if we are making a bigger mess of things because there is no prescribed way of parenting to fit every child. Within the trenches of motherhood, it always helped me to get another mom’s perspective.

Tips from the Trenches

There was always something powerful about a lunch date with moms who knew because they were right there with me.  When I was able to share lessons learned, heartbreak endured, and vent frustrations with my friends, I seemed to walk away feeling better about myself and my parenting abilities.

As the mother of four, I’ve collectively spent 85 years raising children. It has not always been pretty, and quite often the lessons have been hard. Having survived the trenches, I offer some hindsight from my time spent muddling through motherhood.

Don’t Do it for Them

It seems like a logical idea, but how often do we think “I can get this done faster” or “They won’t do it the right way.” I know it’s true! But our purpose as mothers is not to get through things as fast as we can or do everything the right way. These little people are trusting us to teach them all they need to know to be responsible and reliable adults.

It feels like there will always be another opportunity to show them later, but those “laters” are quickly gone and well…you know all of the clichés. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can just do it this one time. Take advantage of every teaching moment and help them learn to do it for themselves.

My kids thought I was a dictator. They were independently cleaning bathrooms at 8, doing their laundry by 12, and cooking for the family by 14. I dodged looks from other moms and heard endless complaints about how “their friends didn’t have to do this.” Just keep reminding yourself of what you’re doing – raising competent adults.

Here’s the Reward.

Years later, my daughter thanked me because she knew how to do laundry when her roommate didn’t. My son can help around the house and cook for his family. During a summer lifeguard job, our daughter’s boss was impressed he didn’t have to teach her how to clean. Once they have mastered a task, it is one you no longer have to do. Bonus!

What I learned as I Muddled through Motherhood 1

Don’t Forget Your Talents

We are each blessed with unique gifts and talents. Nurture, develop, and use your talents. They are what make you the best mom for your kids. It is your style and will make the greatest difference in their lives. My biggest mistake was comparing my abilities to what I saw another mom doing. I was looking at their strengths and comparing them to my weaknesses. Don’t try to mimic someone else’s style. Embrace your own!

I wasn’t the mom putting together a big production to entertain her kids every day of the summer. I was the mom who listened, who knew how to encourage and help her children work through their feelings. Did I feel guilty for not doing both? Maybe for a minute, but I learned to be okay with it. I embraced what I could do well, and focused on my strengths.

Here’s the Reward.

My example has taught my kids how to use their talents and make them their own. They value my strengths and know they can depend on me. Life after the kids may seem like an eternity away. Learning to embrace who you are and what you do well will give you an identity for after the kids are gone.

Don’t Let Lists Get in the Way

I get it. I’m a list maker driven by tasks. The problem is the lists of tasks will never end. I had to teach myself to be flexible with my “to-do’s.” They would always be there but the opportunity to read a book or play a game would not.

Someone once told me Time = Love, and I snidely wrote it off. My love language is to do things for others. A clean house tells me I love my family, but these little ones speak only the language of “time“. Our undivided attention will mean more to them than folded laundry or a clean bathroom.

Give yourself permission to stop washing the dishes to help build a Lego tower. Put aside the laundry to have a tea party. Take the time to stop and give hugs and make sure you don’t let go first. Our love should not have a timer, and our actions should reflect our love.

Here’s the Reward.

My kids look back on their childhood and know they were loved. They felt it then, and they still do today. I’m still obsessed with lists, but they also know I will stop what I’m doing to be there for them. Each of my kids has a story of a time when I stopped and made an impact on their lives. I get a little emotional when they recall these memories because I remember them too, and feel grateful to know it made a difference.

Don’t Discredit Dad

I know. We’re talking about motherhood, but Dad is pretty important! Sure, he might have been a little uncomfortable when the bundle of joy first came home from the hospital, and maybe he wasn’t a natural during the toddler phase. But dad speaks a special language when it comes to your kids.

I remember asking and reminding a child to clean their room only to have the request fall on deaf ears. Suddenly dad walks in the door, and things start to happen. He speaks the language of fun, making the most tedious tasks more enjoyable.

Raising these little people is not your responsibility alone. Make the job a team effort, learn to use his insight and advice to work through the difficult times, cry on his shoulder for comfort and reassurance, and take the time to love him.

Teach your little family about love by loving their daddy. They see an example of what expressing love looks like. It builds security and confidence in their role. Make date night a priority and nurture this relationship above all the others. He is the one you will be living with when they all leave home. Love him now, so you will enjoy him later.

Here’s the Reward.

I still like this guy I’m married to. I think I’ll keep him around for a while!

Takeaways from Motherhood

Here is the most important thing you can learn today.  Life is never perfect, and we will never be the perfect mom.  Our kids will make choices that disappoint us, and ones to make us proud. It may often feel like we’re muddling our way through motherhood but remember:  doing the best we can is good enough.

What tips have you learned while muddling your way through motherhood?

This post was originally published on Midday Mornings.

What I Learned as I Muddled Through Motherhood

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17 thoughts on “What I learned as I Muddled through Motherhood”

  1. Wow, what an awesome post Lori!! So much recognition and so many valuable lessons to learn from your writing. ? Love it!! Pinned it to my mom board on Pinterest too for other moms to find it ?

  2. So much encouragement in your tips! I especially love the focus on the “reward” for doing the hard parts of parenting. The “don’t do it for them” section is a constant struggle. I sometimes feel guilty that our daughters have challenging schedules AND they cook, clean, do laundry, etc. Whereas, others can simply focus on school and social lives. I needed the reminder that life skills will serve them well in the future! And, dads deserve more respect than they get in movies, books, media, etc.

    #WanderingWednesday

    1. You’re a great example to us all Ashley! It is hard to be intentional in our parenting, but it is why we parent. It is all about what we are trying to help these people become! Thank you for the comment!

  3. Hi! Thanks for inviting me to Wandering Wednesday, I’m enjoying it. Never been to a link party before. I pinned 2, commented on 3, and left my Everything Soup recipe. I really like the point you make in this post about not doing things for kids. I don’t have kids of my own, but there are at least half a dozen young people that consider me a second mom, because I always took the time to teach. They have lots of good memories of me teaching them, and those are some of my favorite memories as well. (Except for the time two 8-year-olds got into an armpit fart contest, and when the disgusted grownups demanded to know where they learned that, they ratted me out.)

    1. LOL! We don’t have to be an actual mom to parent the children in our lives. Our example goes a long way. Looking forward to reading about your soup:) . Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the linkup!

  4. hampersandhiccups

    This is perfect. My daughter is 7 weeks away from turning 2, and my son is 5 months old today. I often tell my Sweet Girl to stay 1 forever. Even though I feel like I don’t get enough done in a day, I try to make every day a happy one for her. One-on-one time is really important to her now that she’s a big sister, so taking 30-60 minutes during a baby nap to play with her fill her bucket right up and keep her happy and cooperative all day.
    #wanderingwednesday
    Katelynn, hampersandhiccups.com

      1. hampersandhiccups

        There’s days when I want to pull my hair out, or days like today when they’re both teething and nap time (right now) couldn’t come soon enough. But it really is such a short time. The phrase that is repeated in my head DAILY is “this too will pass”

        1. Great attitude! You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have those days. Realize we all do some how seems to help though, doesn’t it?

  5. Misadventures with Megan

    Once I started handing over chores to my kids I wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner. I have less to do (win) and they feel like they are contributing and part of the team. They are still young enough that they don’t complain about it yet lol! But even when they do, too bad! Teaching life skills is my job!

    1. Teaching them while they are young is easier. It becomes part of what they expect! It’s an amazing discovery isn’t it?

  6. I do suffer the “mom guilt” once in a while. I do one thing, then think I should have done the other. I can only do so much. When I realize I am not super-woman and to choose the best I can and not worry I made the wrong choice, I am a much happier Mom for sure. I like what you said about the to do list and that it will still be there. I know the kids grow fast, my oldest is 18 and I have a baby who is 1. I think I take more time for him than I did for her because “how fast time goes” is now real to me.

    1. It is amazing how quickly time flies, isn’t it? My youngest is leaving soon and I am making sure to spend time doing the little things. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. jenniferwise4heritagemakers

    These are all GREAT tips! It really IS important to just hear that you’re not alone when you get together with other moms. It’s good to know it’s hard for all of us, and it’s good to get ideas from others. As you said, it’s also important to recognize your talents. I may not be the mom who always _______________ (fill in the blank) with/for her kids, but I WILL do something that I’M good at doing/teaching/being/sharing. Love this! #wanderingwednesday

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