Monday, October 10, 2011

A Guilt-Free Tale

A Guilt-Free Tale by Michelle Leichty

  Once upon a time as a mother, I wasted plenty of time feeling guilty. Guilty I wasn't making cute crafts with my preschoolers. Guilty I wasn't making fancy lunches to tempt my toddler's appetite.
One day, as I sat feeling overwhelmed by my responsibilities and a messy house, I stopped. I looked at the precious baby I was nurturing, and and I heard the happy voices of my toddlers and preschoolers.
  I realized: I'm not that bad!
  I thought about my husband's grandmother, raised on a Midwest farm. Grandma Marce inspired me during those early years with kids. Whenever I felt guilty about hiding the craft supplies, I thought about her life raising three boys, largely without the benefit of electricity. I asked Grandma Marce if she ever had time to read to her children.
  "Oh, I remember Junior (her eldest) had an alphabet book. He would sit on the floor in the kitchen with that book, and I would read it over his shoulder while I washed the dishes. He loved that book."Junior is a well-adjusted adult, a retired teacher and leader in his church. Yet Grandma Marce couldn't stop working just to read to him.
  I started looking at the time my appliances saved me and decided to use that time to read to my children. I began to focus on what I liked. Crafts make me feel grumpy. Then I snap at the children. Why feel guilty avoiding crafts? I love reading. So I started reading to my children. After breakfast, we'd pile on the couch for a reading session. I felt better about being a mom. And I focused on loving my kids the way I knew best.

This article is from MomSense- the periodical from MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers)

  I have been struggling with guilt myself lately. Some of it justified but most of it not. Justified guilt over losing patience with my children and after I really thought about it, most of it was caused by myself. I would talk to my mother every morning on the phone and when my children got crazy  (as most children do when you are on the phone) it would upset me and we had a bad start to the day. Now I wait until they are doing something constructive like play-doh (or sometimes not until naps) and the day runs smoother. I also became irritated when the kids wouldn't move fast enough as we were leaving for somewhere. Now I see how it really is my fault that I didn't start the process earlier to give them enough time (I tend to run late, that's one more thing I'm working on.) I am happy to say that truly realizing all of this has helped immensely!
  Then, I know, there is unjustified guilt and I'm working on that as well. I have been trying to improve all the areas where I feel I am falling short.  After A Guilt Free Tale, I started to think about how silly some of my expectations have been. I too have guilt over not being perfect. Some days I don't read as many books as I'd like, make as healthy of meals, do enough craft projects, get all the dishes done, have the place spotless (which never actually happens but I always hope.) I'm not saying that these are not important, they just don't need to all be done everyday. Now, at the end of the day, if I know I worked hard, did my best (which is most days), spent quality time with the children and didn't get impatient- I too now realize: I'm not that bad!
  As moms, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. We need to look at them and use it to our advantage. No two moms are created equal and we each need to see our own strengths and stop comparing ourselves to the rest. Each of us are unique and we all need to appreciate that!

Have a great week!


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