Know Your Strengths

When you think of what a “good mom” looks like, do certain ideals pop into your head? Is she the one who loves nothing more than reading to a classroom full of kids? Or who’ll happily coach 20 preschool soccer players? Is she the one who unabashedly sings and dances at Mommy and Me class while the rest of the moms squirm uncomfortably and try to move their lips without actually making sound? Does she always seem to speak patiently and quietly? Or is she the mom who can gladly leave everything behind and disappear into a fuzzy newborn cloud, doing nothing but rocking in a nightgown all day with a soft, downy-headed babe?

Chances are good you’re great at some of the above. But if you said all of the above, I might have my doubts.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we all have certain “motherly” ideals. Where do they come from? Maybe a little bit from Ma Ingalls or Marmee, a big chunk from our own mothers, grandmothers, aunts, women in TV sitcoms, commercials, other mom bloggers, and from the pages of magazines. Over time we cobble together an image of what makes a Mom, and then we believe we should live up to it.

I think some of that idealization is totally normal, and even makes us better and happier parents (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought, “What would Caroline Ingalls do?” and then was relieved to actually find an answer there). But it becomes a problem problem when we try to become something we aren’t, trying desperately to be good at everything we deem “motherly” but failing to value those things that really make us different and special (and that our children really do benefit from!)

Case in point: it took me years–I’m talking nearly a decade here–to admit to myself that I’m really just not a crafty mom. I love the idea of crafting; I love looking at other people’s finished products, I love busting out the felt and thread around the holidays or occasionally tossing some noodles and glue on a piece of construction paper, but I’m never going to be the mom who comes up with a steady stream of interesting, creative art projects for my kids.

But you know what? That’s okay. Because I am the mom who will always let the little boys mess up the table with glue and sequins and play-doh, and even if I’m not actually assisting in the creation of a masterpiece, I always recognize the creativity of their, uh, sequins on glue on paper. I’m the mom who makes up musical numbers (complete with choreography) on the spot while doing the dishes with my oldest two. I’m the mom who tells funny jokes (I swear, they really are funny…at least my kids say so). I’m the mom who’s never afraid to go out and do something new with all the kids…at least once.  Crafting is not my strength, but I have so many others, and they are things that really matter to my kids today and tomorrow and that will make fantastic memories in the future. We all do, even if our Real Selves look nothing like our Ideal Selves.

What strengths do you have that maybe don’t get as much recognition as they should? Come on, post ’em here. We can all reassure each other that our strengths do matter..even if we hate to read out loud (gasp–I’ll admit it–I’d rather eat a pickled egg than read Green Eggs and Ham aloud!) or burn every meal we cook…or can’t bring ourselves to shake our sillies out in public.

What makes you an awesome mom–even if it’s not what you always thought a great mom would look like?

featured image: Images Money, via Flickr Creative Commons

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