Guest Post by Esther Littlefield of Wellness Mom Life
I sat on the floor with my daughter playing Legos. I looked around me and inwardly cringed. Every set we’ve bought her over the years is now jumbled up, scattered throughout multiple bins, across the floor, and made into new creations.
It’s not just the Lego sets that are the issue. In my daughter’s eyes, every square inch of our house is a potential fort, home for her animals, booklet-making zone, or display area for her rock collection. Truly, there is no area off-limits, according to her, for her endless creative energy and imagination.
The first time I watched the Lego Movie, I knew: I am Lord Business.
I want the the beautiful Lego projects we have spent hours on – painstakingly following the directions to put together – to stay together! For a while they did. We had a whole little village with the bakery, the pet shop, a big house, and more. But over time, each and every set we have put together has morphed into something much less beautiful and “perfect”, but a whole lot more imaginative and creative.
And this DRIVES. ME. CRAZY.
Like Lord Business, I am not a fan of chaos or disorder. (Proof: in 4th grade, I was voted “most organized” for my school’s yearbook).
I like things my way (some might call me “control freak”). I like things that are completed to stay that way. I like following directions, playing by the rules, and having results that turn out just like they do on paper. Once things turn out perfectly, I’m ready to grab the KRAGLE and make it permanent.
But how often do things turn out perfectly as a mom?
I am learning every day to let go of my own expectations and be open to different outcomes. I’m realizing that things almost never turn out the way you planned, and using KRAGLE on your family really isn’t a good idea. I’m recognizing that I need to become less like Lord Business and more like Wyldstyle – okay, maybe Emmett.
2 Ways I’m Letting Go of Being Lord Business:
1. I’m letting go of the expectations of having a perfect child.
Let me explain. I didn’t really expect that I would have a perfect child. But I did expect that my child would basically be a combination of my best qualities and my husband’s best qualities, and since I kind of like both of us, I figured our child would be pretty close to perfect.
My daughter certainly did get a lot great characteristics from each of us, but she also got her own entire set of unique personality qualities. Some of them make me laugh, and others make me want to cry. She is absolutely amazing, but she also nothing like I had expected when I envisioned my “perfect” little family.
I used to envision the hours I would spend snuggled on the couch reading stories to my child. I pictured my husband and I together, holding her on our laps, while she listened with rapt attention as we read multiple books aloud. You know, all the things they show you in story books and on TV?
I can count on my hands the number of times this has happened for more than 5 minutes at a time. My daughter needs to move. She loves stories and reading, but the snuggling? Not so much.
For a long time, I’ve let that bother me. I have been frustrated that she wasn’t behaving in the way I expected. What I realize now is that this was an expectation I had for her, but it doesn’t line up with who she is.
How often do I try to mold my child’s behavior into this picture perfect idea of what I thought she would be? I have recognized that I have to let go of who I thought she would be and let her be who she is!
2. I am letting go of expectations on myself to be a perfect mom.
To quote Lord Business, “All I’m asking for is total perfection!” Though I’ve never actually said that out loud, I have often felt like a complete failure as a mom, since I can’t seem to do this thing perfectly.
I used to think I knew a lot. I went to college, got a degree in social work, and then worked – WITH KIDS, some of whom had pretty significant behavior challenges – for 10 years.
So naturally, when I got pregnant, I had plans to be the perfect parent. I had plenty of experience, and lots of knowledge about dealing with children, how they develop, and how to implement a behavior plan. I thought if I followed the right steps, did the right things, that things would go the right way (i.e. my way).
Yet, the more time passes, the more I realize that I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT I’M DOING.
Sure, I can get the basics down, and I do have a decent understanding of child development. But many most days, I’m just taking a major stab in the dark on how to respond to the variety of challenges my daughter throws my way.
For example, I love the method of counting to 3. For the longest time with my daughter, it worked! We almost never got to 3, because she would stop what she was doing by 2. And that’s a very good thing, because most of the time I had no idea what I would do if I got to 3. (Parenting tip: figure out what you’re going to do when you get to 3 ahead of time!)
Sometimes counting to 3 works, but parenting is not always that easy.
It’s harder when your child is wrought with anxiety, and you just have no idea what to do. It’s harder when your child tells you someone called them names, and you aren’t sure how to respond. It’s harder when your child has a night terror for the first time, and you have no clue what is happening or why she’s screaming “NO” and pushing you away. It’s harder when people tell you to follow your instincts, but you simply don’t have any answers.
Some days, I feel the exact same way I did 7 years ago when we drove away from the hospital. I remember looking at my husband, and him looking at me, and both of us were thinking the same thing: “Why on earth are they letting us leave the hospital with this fragile human being?!?” Many years later, I still have those days, wondering how on earth God thought that I could handle this.
But He gave me this job, and He gave me this amazing child. And no matter how hard I try, I cannot control my life. I can’t control my child. I can’t even KRAGLE my house for the 2 seconds it looks the way I want it to (actually, I’m not sure if that has ever happened).
I’m learning to let go of expectations of having a perfect child, and being a perfect mom.
Instead, I’m deciding to learn more about my girl – what makes her tick, what she loves, what works best for her – and I’m slowly becoming more the mom she needs. She doesn’t need a perfect mom – she needs a mom who loves her for who she is.
Esther Littlefield is a feisty wife, homeschooling mom of one, and not-so-great housekeeper. She is also a writer, leader in her church, and an avid nature-lover. She writes at WellnessMomLife with the goal of helping moms care for their personal, physical, relational, and spiritual wellness so that they are more able to love and lead those around them.