This weekend I went to see LA LA Land and it was absolutely brilliant. Amongst the jazz hands, the beautiful colours, the incredible songs and the ridiculously good looking cast was a line that made me cry, it hit me in the gut. Don’t worry this is not a spoiler but at one point a character is challenged that they won’t do something because they think they are not good enough.
I’d had a tough week and was looking forward to a sparkly chick flick with friends which it was and my friends are incredible but at that point in the film everything in me wanted to escape which I was not expecting. I realised (maybe not new to some who know me!) that I fear that I’m not good enough and mainly I’m not good enough to be the mum of my 2 incredible girls.
On the way home I had a little chat to myself (do you do this?!). I realised and acknowledged that a lot of my pain, low mood and general difficulty with being a mum is because I can’t quantify what I do. I’m results or goal orientated and have worked a lot in sales/events type environments and I like to know I’m ticking things off, succeeding and moving onto the next thing. I want to be able to quantify ‘good enough’.
Guess what… kids don’t come with a checklist and if they do it’s been created by someone else who doesn’t know you or your kids. A Pinterest mum who thinks there should be 20 things your child can do (as a result of your brilliant parenting) before they are 2, a letter for an 11 month check dropping through the door and a health visitor asking you what your child can or can’t do, milestone cards which although super cute also come with their own pressure points and I guess although I’m not fully there yet reports from school about your child’s progress or the subtle nuances about how many extra curricular activities your child does/doesn’t do.
We cannot and should not measure our parenting skills by these things, if at all.
Whilst thinking/talking to myself I realised that all of these things come from the external. Just like targets, events, more sales calls, more people through doors, more bums on seats are external ways that the world or a workplace judge us, they also can become internalised barometers of success for ourselves and I think the same can happen with the external expectations we experience about our children.
I’m beginning to think parenting isn’t something I can succeed at. Of course, I hope my little ones grow into people who are kind, caring, and generally look out for and bring joy to people around them however I am becoming increasingly aware that of course not all of us end up being the people our parents imagined for a myriad of reasons but does this mean they are of less value, Absolutely flipping not. And if they are brilliant is that my success, nope
This seems like the perfect point to introduce my faith. I believe in Jesus and I believe he places massive value on individuals for who they are, no matter what. My value comes not from what I ‘give back’ or whether I am of use and it most certainly does not come from whether I am succeeding or failing in parenting, it comes from the fact that I am made in the image of God, someone who is love in and of itself. Also my children’s value doesn’t come from how they compare to peers, whether they are ticking off milestones like a shopping list or if they listen to what I say (thank goodness). They also are of worth because they are made by God and he knows them better than I ever will. Parenting is such an important job but it is one that doesn’t require goals to be achieved or one where we can predict outcomes.
My job as mum is to love my little ones in a way that works for us as a family and hopefully show them how worthy they are of being loved and how valuable to God and us they are. As a Christian, I believe that despite all the things I have done and continue to do wrong, I am deeply loved by God. I believe he made the ultimate sacrifice to be in relationship with me and as his child I want to honour this by loving him, even though I don’t always do this well.
As I thought about this, I realised that this releases me to be ‘good enough’ to be mum to my beautiful girlies. I am worthy of loving these girls and they are a gift. They know they are loved, even when the day feels like a battle, even when they slam doors as they get bigger or temporarily scream on the floor because I removed a toy for not sharing. The sacrifices I make are worth it to be in relationship with them and love them and I hope that no matter what happens to them or what they do in the future they will always know they are our girls and much loved. So stop worrying about whether you have done enough craft, taught them to ‘achieve’ or are doing the right thing by them. We WILL NOT get it all right but if you are loving your little ones then you are getting the main thing right.
Keep going, you ARE good enough and deeply loved and I hope this releases you to be free to love your little ones (or bigger ones) too.
As always I’d love to hear your comments on this, do you feel like a good mum? Do you feel external pressure?