The Ridiculous Lie I Believed About Motherhood

While my children were growing up, I believed a lie.

I thought if I could be a Perfect Mother, I could raise Perfect Children.

Have you ever heard of such nonsense?

On my first day at home with baby Jamie (our first child), my mother stopped by.

Jamie started screaming. I couldn’t do anything to make her happy.

She’s less than a week old and I’m already failing!

Crazy, I know.

I thought it was my job to make sure she never cried.

Or got sick. Or dirty. Or hurt. Or sad. Or lonely.

Or misbehaved when she got older.

While we ate supper, I laid her on the sofa. Somehow she wiggled toward the back of the sofa.

What kind of Perfect Mother does things like this?

Before Mother left, we snapped a few happy pictures.

 

I’m smiling (a Perfect Mother always smiles) but on the inside,

I was a Nervous Nellie.

Two and a half years later Katie was born, 30 years ago today, April 30th. 🙂

Happy birthday, Katie!

What pressure! Now I had two little girls to make Perfect.

I tried so hard to be a Perfect Mother.

Which was exhausting.

Cheery notes in lunchboxes, ribbons in hair, matching outfits, plus I never screamed (on the outside).

Then something happened that began to change me.

Our third child Robbie was born with anencephaly.

He lived twenty minutes.

Life and death can rearrange our thinking. Shift priorities.

We had another son two years later.

Slowly but surely, (and definitely while raising teenagers!) I discovered how wrong I was.

It was never my job to be a Perfect Mother.

And something else.

The root of my desire for perfection was control.

I wasn’t in control then.

I’m not in control now.

God is.

He’s my Perfect Father. And my children’s Perfect Father too.

Did you believe any crazy lies about motherhood?

Wishing you a happy and relaxed Mother’s Day.

Love,

Julie

 

Comments

  1. Oh, how I wish I had known then what I know now. Love you.

  2. Anna Haney says:

    As you know, I have no children of my own. However, I had had 1000s of children through the years as an educator. When I first started my second career as an elementary educator, I felt kind of like you did as a new mom. I wanted my class to be perfect. In some instances, I did not set boundaries. In other instances, I tried too hard to be a friend rather than a teacher and then I got so frustrated at them and myself when they got unruly. Finally, I realized, just as you did, that I was not in control of them, God was. Once I relinquished that control and my frustrations to Him, it got easier. Granted, I still had some challenging students, but it was a lot easier. Thanks for this.
    Have a wonderful Mothers’ Day!

    • Hey, Anna! I thought about you when I posted this, and SO hoped it would somehow work its way into your heart because you’re always so kind to let me know you’re reading.

      Yayayayayaya!!!! It makes sense to you!

      Isn’t it a powerful Truth, that we’re not in control. And when we living in Surrender, our shoulders relax and we smile more?!

      Love you, my friend.

  3. Great message and reminder Julie! Did it as a father and a person… I tried for 40 years to live the “perfect” life, at least what I projected to others. In our realization in our “perfect-lessnous” (new word:) we come to trust and rely on God’s perfection. Ahhh, the pressure is gone and the trust in Him grows. So thankful.

    • Thank you, Tom. So glad a daddy could relate to this mama post. Guess it might be universal–our need to rely on HIS PERFECTION. Because there is none other.

      I always say Pride and Control are the evil stepsisters. :/

      Thank you. Thank you.

  4. I’d love more information on MOM, Julie. That’s something that’s needed!

  5. I always feel sorry for my firstborn who I tried so hard to be the perfect mama to, and I tried to make her perfect. I dressed her in fancy dresses like a doll and way overcorrected her for every imperfect thing she did. Having an “oh, so strong willed” second child blew all my illusions of perfection up, and was probably the best thing God could have done!

    • Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, yep. Me too, Elizabeth. I pushed so hard with that first one. Even with potty training, like it was the biggest deal and I thought it was up to me or it would never happen.

      Thank you, my friend.

  6. Julie – you are so right!! And wise, my friend, although I do think you were the “perfect” parent for your children. I had all boys so the picture-book perfect parenting method went out the window pretty fast. It’s a struggle, though, always wondering what people think when your kids are less than perfect.

    • Thank you, Carla. Maybe I was the “perfect” parent for my children. I love that! Wish I’d have put it in the blog. 🙂

      Love you, my friend.

  7. Such great words of wisdom here, Julie! I absolutely LOVE the way you write! Powerful! And thank you for sharing about the conference! You’re such a sweet blessing!

  8. Patti Wiersma says:

    Julie, I just love your posts. I can relate to almost all of them, but this one really hit home. I was 20 when my first child was born, a daughter, and I tried to do everything by the book. I soon learned to throw the book out when my 2nd and 3rd children were born (both boys). I always felt sorry for Wendy. I used to say that she was my “guinia pig” that I tested my mothering on. I know I made some mistakes, but did the best I could at the time. Thankfully, I am blessed with three wonderful adult children, who are doing so many things like I did. God bless you and your wonderful family.

    • You and me both, Patti. Why did we do that? I read the books over and over and tried so dang. I replied to a previous comment that potty training Jamie was a nightmare. Because I made it that way.

      You’re exactly right. We did the best we could at the time.

      Thank you so much for identifying. And for letting me know! xoxoxoxo

  9. marci says:

    Oh my, is there a mother that can not see themselves in your writings today? No matter the age, I think we can all look back and relate. .. I waited so long for our daughter, even giving up..and accepting that we may never be parents. But surprise! When we were married 10 1/2 yrs, .. What my husband thought was me having the flu turned out to not be the flu after all. We had been married 11 yrs by the time she was born. How I relate to wanting to be the perfect mom. Longing to hold on to that relationship. We learn quickly that our children are independent little people. And we do the best we can. Trust God for the rest. I smiled when I read the part about the how to books– how quicky they get tossed.. So true. My biggest eye opener was perhaps realizing that no matter how much we love them, how much we do- and even how good they are! -our relationship with them will have its rocky times. And not hold too tightly. How true true your insight– We are not in control To remember that. I always get so much from your writings. Blessings to you,

    • Marci, Marci, what a Joy to read your comment!!!! Thank You, Lord!

      You’re so right. Children are SO independent and separate from us, aren’t they.

      Amen–I’m right there with you–been through some rough times too. And the only way to get through (at least for me) was to shut up and pray. And let go. And Trust.

      Thank you so much for writing. Means so much.

  10. Patricia Martin says:

    Happy Birthday, Katie! God blessed you with two wonderful parents, and I hope you have many daughters that are beautiful just like you! Happy Mothers Day, Julie! May you and your loved ones have a blessed (relaxed) (((((: holiday. (: My Gram’s sister is celebrating her 90th this weekend (wow) and I am so glad a have some years left before I am that age ():. Love the baby pictures–three generations of strong women.
    Love,
    Patricia ((:

    • Patricia, so sweet of you to wish Katie a Happy Birthday! And Happiest Birthday to your….would it be great aunt?

      Thank you so much for letting me know you’re reading my blog. Just makes my day!

      XOXOXOXO

  11. Oh honey, I’m right there with you! I just knew my kids would be perfect if I handled everything the way I was supposed to. I pointed out to my own mother that the reason my brother was such a brat was because they raised him to be that way. (Well, actually, that one might not be far from the truth!)

    But the bottom line is, my kids weren’t perfect…and neither was I. But I love that you said their Father–and mine–is!

    • Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Vonda. Wish we had time to sit and chat.

      You nailed it, my friend. Love you. Thank you.

  12. Hugs Julie! Tears welled up as I read your post! I believed all those lies and even thought God was grading me- I never felt like I could do enough or be enough as a mom/wife/pastor’s wife. You are so right- the root of it all was control- or at least the illusion of control. After Kristin went to heaven, (cancer) I was terrified. I just wanted to figure out what “I” had done wrong so nothing tragic would happen again- maybe I didn’t have enough faith, didn’t get her diagnosed soon enough, etc. etc. etc. I sigh with gratitude that God was with me every step of the way- and still is- and He continues to cover my mistakes with His mercy and pours His spirit out on me- and our children and their children. His promises are for us all- it’s not up to me to make that happen! What a relief! hugs

    • THAT’S IT, Cindy!! Exactly. Like God had a huge report card and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get an A+….And of course it was all up to ME to make sure my children were okay, loved, fed, understood, etc. What faulty thinking. Why would they need God if I could take His Place.

      Yuck.

      Now, I’m tearing up with your response. I knew our son Robbie (anenecephaly) had to be my fault. I hadn’t taken vitamins early in the pregnancy. I had a perm. …. and on an on.

      Maybe life is a lot simpler than I knew.

      Love to you, my friend. I so wish we lived closer. And I do love that wonderful pic of you and your hubby!

  13. Julie,
    I loved this post – I love to reminisce about those days when I thought I knew everything and knew actually nothing. It is good to share our experiences with one another. I recently shared one of mine:
    http://www.joyfulbecauseofhim.com/?p=244 – Thanks for your willingness to share – I know many will be blessed.

    • I’m laughing in agreement. “When you thought you knew everything and you knew nothing.” THAT’S IT!!

      Gong to your site now. Thanks for the link!! Blessings, my new friend. 🙂

  14. Love the photos Julie…but mostly I love the message. If only we’d know this when we were young moms…thank you for sharing your heart …(I think you’re perfect by the way) xo

    • If only….but would we have listened, Rob?????

      Love you, my perfect friend. No pressure whatsoever. But you are.

  15. Brenda Greene says:

    Ain’t it the truth, ain’t it the truth, ain’t it the truth, Julie Girl….perfection is all about our wanting to be in control?!! Guilty!!

    We also had two daughters the same age difference as yours and when our oldest was about three, she presented me with a real “eye-opener!” With her little broom sweeping the floor, she had her little pink phone held between her shoulder and chin, jabbering away! Gulp…she had seen me do that way too many times! It dawned on me (I was 26 at the time), that she was going to be a “little sponge” and copy anything I did. It sure helped me realize I needed to get my life in a place where it was worth copying…still working on that, 40 years later, but God is good!

    Thanks for your weekly posts…highlight of my Wednesdays! Brenda

    • Brenda, I got such a strong visual reading your comment. I can just see it in my heart.

      And look, you haven’t forgotten it, and even shared it with us.

      Thank you, my friend. I’m praising Him as I read these comments. He is Faithful. I couldn’t write without Him.

  16. Perfection and control — not so good for me either and I work on relinquishing them all the time. Thanks for the reminder that I am not alone.

  17. Kathryn says:

    Yes, I would say most mothers have been there and done that. Me too. My mother did the same thing…really strict with me and easier on my younger sister.

    • Whew!!!! Thanks for sharing, Kathryn. I’m not the only one. And surely God’s big enough to cover my boo-boos.

      XOXOXOXO

Trackbacks

  1. […] thought if I could somehow become a perfect mother, I’d raise perfect children. Ha! Double ha-ha on that […]

  2. […] I wrote more about breaking free from the trap of perfection here and here. […]

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