Have you ever felt like an impostor when someone tells you that you are a great mom?
I do. Each time someone tells me this I am caught by surprise. Each time, I am faced with a dilemma: Should I smile sincerely and say, “Thank you” or should I say, “No, I am not a great Mom”?
Each time I wonder what should I do.
Be honest with others.
I want to be honest!
Sometimes I begin to explain how the person who made the comment is wrong. “Thank you, but I am not a great mom. Sometimes I yell at my kids, I lose my temper, or behave in ways that if I were the child I would be put in time out. You should have been at my house the other day when . . . ” About this time, though, the person has stopped listening to me.
Sometimes the first word to pop out of my mouth either, “Really?!” or “Wow.” I am surprised to hear this. I’m not looking for further compliments by what I say, I just am too dumbstruck to say anything else. “She really thinks that of me!?” is what I am wondering as I wrack my brain to try to figure what I did or didn’t do that prompted the comment. I have no idea what it was.
Be honest with myself.
Being honest with myself is tough to do. My list of all the ways I fail at being a mom is not the whole truth. Sometimes I am a great mom and those words of do apply to me. However, I tend to look at myself when they don’t apply to me.
When we go out or are around friends and our kids behave and are obedient to us, I can see why I sometimes get those comments. At home, it is often a different story. The life we live day in and day out is not the life others see when they say I’m a good mom.
Sometimes it feels like we are one way outside our home and another way when we are at home. Maybe that is because we feel safe to be our true selves at home–to be crabby without holding back or to leave messes around the house rather than picking up after ourselves. When we are out maybe we want to project an image of having it all together, or we are inspired to be our better selves. (This goes for all family members, not just moms.)
I want to be a great mom.
I want to be a great mom like some people think that I am.
I want to be patient with our kids and to have a loving relationship with each of them. I strive to teach them by my example and by helping them to be faithful Catholics, to be independent thinkers, to be kind and generous to others, and to not be selfish or shirk responsibilities. I want them to be more than I am and to grow to be the people that God has created them to be who understand who they are and are confident in God’s love, care, and mission for them.
More important than what others think about me, I want our kids to think that I am a great mom.
It is nice when others say that I am a great mom, but what our kids think is even more important to me. I want to be a great role model for them in all areas of life. I want for them to not just think every now and again that I am a great mom, but to believe in their hearts that I am a great mom and that I do my best for them.
Great moms are not perfect moms.
Great does not equal perfect. This is something I need to remind myself of over and over again.
Our kids learn from me when I ask for their forgiveness, when I say I am sorry, when I say I made a mistake, and when I fix a problem I caused.
I am not perfect and I will never be, but in my imperfections I can show our kids how to strive to do better and admit when they are wrong. When they know I am not perfect and when I avoid making excuses for my behavior and instead own up to my mistakes, they will know they do not need to be perfect and that they can make mistakes, too. They will know they need to repair any problems they cause and move past them.
Try and try again.
If being a great mom to our kids is what I want for them, am I doing that? Am I acting in ways that show them God’s love and my love every day? Am I a good model for them in the attributes, characteristics, and habits I want them to have as they grow up?
If I am not doing these things consistently, I am not being the great mom I want to be. I can want to be a great mom, but until I consistently put into action what I know is best for our kids and myself, I will not be a great mom.
The next step.
“You are a great mom.” How should I handle this statement when I hear it from strangers at the store, from friends, or sometimes from family members? I can say, “Thank you. Being a great mom is something I am striving to be.”
With God’s help I can work every day to consciously be the great mom I want to be for our kids and the great mom God has called me to be.
To read more encouragement for the vocation of motherhood, check out my post “Not Just a Mom.”