On New year’s eve day, I spent several hours alone at the park trying to get in touch with what my focus should be in the new year.I asked myself, ‘what are my dreams? What do I want most?’ And I realized I want to feel successful in the things that matter most. I want to live life on purpose and make a difference. I have fun dreams of traveling and having an awesome house in the country, but really the things that I don’t want another year to go by without are these: I want to feel the peace of knowing I am accomplishing what I am here to be and do. I want the certainty that I am creating what I was put here to create and not leaving gifts untapped and moments wasted. I want to be laser focused on the right things at the right times. I want to play big in life and motherhood. I want to totally ROCK as a mom, a wife, a homeschooler, a disciple, and as the unique individual I was born to be. Yeah, I have pretty high hopes/expectations. So, here’s the trouble. Me and all my idealist ideas tend to run into discouragement when things don’t look like my vision early on in the game. And then instead of stepping up I tend to slack off and that, of course, doesn’t help. My husband, who has a gift of seeing the big picture, pointed out to me recently that I put great effort into planning and carrying out my projects outside our home and family. He asked me why I don’t always do that as readily with teaching our kids, making meals, and cleaning our house. Ouch. I had to admit there was truth in what he said. I asked myself, why do I hold back when it comes to the people I love most and the calling most important in my life? I think I finally figured out the answer. I have been unsure if I can be successful, regardless of the effort. In my outside projects, I pretty much knew that if I put my heart into it, planned well and did my best, it would be a success. In mothering it seems like it’s less of a sure thing. A mother can do a great job and still have a child go astray, because kids have agency. You can give your child all the inspiration and opportunity in the world to learn and they can still choose not to. You can clean the house with all your might and it can be undone in minutes with nothing to show for it. You can plan and slave over a beautiful meal and still have kids whine that it is yucky. I have seen or experienced all of the above. And sometimes it feels like all my efforts won’t make a difference so it is hard to get up the motivation to do more than just get by. But I have never been happy with just getting by. There is a reason I have had so much fun with those projects I have done that took such effort and creativity – it’s not so much because of the praise or because it was a change of scenery, but because I enjoy doing things Whole-Heartedly, putting all my gifts to work, and I feel confident as I am working hard to ensure success, and I usually achieve it. I expect success. I haven’t had the confidence to expect it in motherhood though – it seems more uncertain. But maybe that is because I have been looking at the wrong things as markers of success at home.
So then that brought me to the million dollar question: What IS Success?
So I started trying to envision what a day would look like when I totally rocked as a mom…but I kept getting tripped up. From the very beginning of the story that played out in my head, I realized there were flaws in the scenario, namely, that my children are people with wills of their own. I envisioned an orderly home with obedient children who were totally excited to learn and do whatever I had planned that day. I realized right away that my vision was unrealistic and would have to be about what I had control over, and I don’t have control over anyone but me. Influence, yes, but not control. The results I have looked for, the proof of success, may not show up for a long time, if it does at all. But surely there is a way to be a success in the areas that I control, in who I am and what I do, and to feel like I’m good at what I do before I reach that magical day when we get to see how everyone turned out. So how can I know when I have succeeded as a mom on a given day? That is what I am yearning for.
The answers that have been coming to me have more to do with what things I felt and focused on than things that can be seen. They are things like:
I am a success if I:
Felt and expressed love to my family members
Nourished our bodies, spirits and minds
Set a good example
Connected with them
Listened, touched, played with, gave good things to, and served them with love
Smiled and was joyful
Showed faith in the goodness in them and faith in God
Disciplined with love and patience
Repented and apologized when I made mistakes
Forgave (others and myself!)
Made the effort to learn and work on my own growth and development
Taught with the spirit
Empowering Action: (ok this is actually kind of a request for help for me, too!) This list is being developed still and I would be interested to know what would be on your success list. What are the marks of success to you? What would you have to be doing to be able to say and feel, ‘I ROCK as a Mom!’ Please share!