A friend and I were at the park the other day, and she was sharing about her “bad mom” moment that morning. She got frustrated when her eldest child kept doing something to her baby that she repeatedly asked him to stop doing. When he finally came very close to injuring the baby, my friend said she snapped. She blew up at her son which resulted in her feeling guilt and shame.
I reassured her that EVERY parent has been there. I know I have. In this specific scenario, the intense reaction was a culmination of pandemic parenting fatigue, heightened post-Christmas emotions, feeling like no one ever listens, and “Mama Bear” protection of the baby. My friend said she apologized to her son for her reaction and explained why she got upset. She also reassured her son how much she loves him no matter what. And I encouraged her that that is the best thing she can do to smooth the wrinkle.
Bad Mom Moments
I truly did feel for her, because I too have had so many rough, “bad mom” moments that I have let define me. I judge myself by how good of a mom I am by whether or not I yelled, got frustrated, or was short with my kids. As I re-read this, I realize how twisted this sounds. In psychology, it is referred to as a distorted thought process called “mental filtering“. By honing in on all my negative, “bad mom” moments I completely discount the positive moments where I am actually a wonderful mother.
A New Perspective
Later that same evening, I overheard my kids watching old videos of themselves on my phone. It is something we all love doing, and reminiscing over their cute little baby voices and chubby cheeks…”simpler times”. I heard my own voice in a video, teaching my youngest about animal sounds. I thought, “I sound like such a good, patient, intentional mom.” And there it was. The “Aha!” moment I was looking for.
I texted that same friend from earlier and told her about my epiphany. I told her about how I overheard myself and that I realized I really am a good mom! Most of the day, like 85%, I truly am patient, calm, not yelling, and just selflessly nurturing and unconditionally loving my kids…as a good mom does. (Just don’t ask about that percentage on a rainy day where we are trapped inside. That’s more of a 40/60 kind of scenario). And I reminded her that she is a good mom most of the day too, way more than she thinks.
Focus On The GOOD
We just all focus on the flying off the handle moments, the moments where we think we traumatized our kids with our loud scolding, and picture them on a therapist’s couch in 10 years (which, by the way, I encourage. Each one of us could all use a little inner healing). We replay the event over, and over, feeling smaller, and smaller each time. But it’s just not true. We are believing the lie that we are bad moms because we continue to mentally filter out all the good. Let’s make the choice starting now, and into 2021, to focus on the good. Let’s mentally filter out the BAD and see where that takes us…I promise a place of joy, love, and peace.
I mean, that’s what God does, isn’t it? He doesn’t look at us, His creation, and focus on the bad. He sees us and smiles at His children, His beloved, the ones He loves with an everlasting love.
“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
He delights in us delighting in our own children, the gift He has given us. Let’s learn to be a little kinder, and gentler… love ourselves the way we love our children…the way God loves us. We do love because He first loved us, after all.
“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)