Thursday, May 6, 2010

Consistency and a Little Taste of Success--Mother-Style
















When I issued this challenge on Monday, I didn’t expect it to affect me the way it did: it has changed my perception of myself as Mom.

As I was contemplating my own ineptitude, so many flaws came to mind: How do I isolate just one? And then it came to me. Many of my shortcomings as a mother can all be attributed back to one near-fatal flaw: I am inconsistent. Why don’t my kids listen to me? Because the consequences are inconsistent. Why don’t my kids keep their rooms clean all the time? Because the efforts to check their work are inconsistent. Why don’t I always read my scriptures or pray or get my chores done? Because I don’t consistently make time to do them. Why does my house get messy? Because eight people and one big dog live here, and I don’t consistently enlist their help. Why does Hyrum throw tantrums? Mostly because he’s three, but also because I react inconsistently. Why do other moms seem to get better results from their families? I witness their consistency . . . and see my own failure.

So this week I tried an experiment. I was going to be Horton the Elephant. I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. And children began to listen and obey, about 80 percent. Wow! It works! Sunday night I sat down with my day planner and made a schedule for the week. When I followed the schedule, I consistently found time to study, pray and work. When I asked kids to clean their rooms, I consistently checked until it was clean. With my little ones, I consistently showed them what was expected, and they more predictably performed tasks the way I wanted. I’ve always wanted them to speak more kindly to each other. But why would they, when I model kind words and tone inconsistently? As I’ve tried to monitor my tone of voice and attitude more consistently this week, I’ve noticed a marked change in the tone of my family. More laughter and less crying. More discussion and less lecture. Still tantrums from Hyrum but less temper from Mom. Have I been perfect? Nope. I’m a work in progress. But the change has been so evident to me that I’m motivated to work at it and make consistency my habit.

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I had a very difficult time deciding on a bragging point. We as women are taught, for some reason inexplicable to me, that in order to make everyone feel good about themselves, we should minimize the things we do well, even neglecting to acknowledge them to ourselves. That is wrong. We can see and appreciate the good in others while minimizing or justifying their faults. We need to give ourselves that same benefit of the doubt. .

So, after much reflection and thought, here goes: God gave me hard kids. Not naughty, disobedient kids. He gave me noisy, brilliant, excitable, energetic, wild, not-cut-from-the-same-cloth-as-most kids. Some fit in better than others. And they’re all very different from each other, with different needs and struggles. One thing I’ve always tried to teach my kids is that I love them no matter what, that I’m always in their corner to help fight their Goliaths with them but not for them, and that no matter what is going on at school or with friends, home is a safe place for them to be themselves, accepted and celebrated for who and what they are.

You never really know if you succeed in this endeavor. But I got a gold star on my forehead a few weeks ago when I overheard this conversation between my two big boys: Ben has been struggling with that junior high crap of who’s cool and who’s not, not being invited places, being left out. Tucker suffered that same struggle (to a much worse degree than Ben) all through elementary school and most of junior high. Tucker’s advice to Ben? “High school is so much better. And even if everything else sucks, you always have your family that you can come home to where you’re safe. No matter what.”

Success.

No mom is perfect. But if there is one truth I learned from being a foster mom, it’s this: No matter how bad the mother, kids ALWAYS want their own mom. Even if she’s a drug addict or a child neglector or abuser, or even if she’s dead, there is no replacement for your own mom. Something comes from those years of good and bad experiences together that intertwines hearts like nothing else can. And it gives me solace to look back on my own childhood and realize that I mostly remember the great memories, not my parents’ small mistakes. None of us are horrible moms.  We're moms who want the best for these kids we love, we fall short, and we beat ourselves up about our failures.  STOP IT NOW.

Celebrate the mothers in your life this weekend. And include yourself—
because you deserve it!

What do you have to say? Is it funny, self-effacing, introspective, deep? Is is profound, silly, kinda dumb? We all want to hear!

Write your post's name in the first space, then copy the specific post address (not your blog address) into the second space. To do this, click on the title of your post on your blog. Then copy the address up in the tool bar--minus the http:// Hope that's clear.

This is my first time doing this, so I hope it works! Take the time to read all the posts and leave comments if you can.


20 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this. You've made me really want to work on my own inconsistency...I hardly ever follow through with consequences like I should.

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  2. I'm not gonna lie when i say...it made me relieved to know that you have inconsistency problems. Thanks for sharing...it gives me hope.

    That said...you truly were given some wonderful and unique and hard kids. I have ALWAYS admired you so much for the very thing you wrote about. You love them so wholly and will work your hardest to find their place, and create a haven for them. You ARE a great Mom, thanks for being such a wonderful example to me.

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  3. I teared up about the story of Tucker and Ben. I tear up a lot on your blog. :)

    I love that one of the good things you mentioned was fighting with and not for them. That's one of the best and hardest things my mother did for me and it's one of the things I appreciate most about her now that I'm an adult.

    Well done. :)

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  4. Hi Jen...love your posts. I'm trying to link mine as stated; but am having probs. :( But, any-hoo, I've linked your blog to mine...I'll try again to add mine to your list!

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  5. What a great week of posts! I loved reading your memories because most of them are ones I love to think about, too.

    The one thing I am good at in mothering and grandmothering is unconditionally loving my family. I think I learned that from MY mother. At this writing, as far as I know, all of my loved ones are making good decisions and trying to lead good lives and that brings me more joy than anything else could. But I would love them anyway.

    When I was a young mother, I always felt like some other mother was far better than I at almost anything you could name. Sometimes it was so overwhelming that I would give up on trying to be better. Time would pass and my self worth would slowly return and I could feel like I was a good mother. The flaw I should have changed would be to consistently (I like your word) recognize that all mothers and all children are different and it is okay. No one knows exactly what is going on in anyone else's life and the whole picture is never open for everyone's view. My children were nearly perfect in spite of my shortcomings. I am thankful they were sent to me with high ideals and worthy spirits and that I could just ride along with them and let them be the good people they were.

    I send my love to you, Jen, one of my all-time favorite mothers.

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  6. Ahhh....that seems to be my problem too. I am so inconsistant and I know that kids need that...heck, I need it. It's all about taking the reigns and holding on tight. Thanks for the reminder. I will be back to share some too.
    (I have some catching up to do on your blog. With sick kids, me sick, etc, I've gotten behind. Can't wait to read about all those amazing people.)

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  7. I love you! You are an inspiration. I did write something about Mother's Day, I wasn't going to but you made me think! Thank you for teaching me. Happy Mother's Day to you!
    Link to my post:
    http://snarky-belle.blogspot.com/2010/05/i-am-that-mother.html

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  8. This has been such a good idea, Jen. And yes, I've written a post for your big link! It's called "A Mother Heart."
    http://www.grannysuesnews.blogspot.com

    Being consistent is hard, especially with a house that is full of children! As far as I can see, you are doing a great job around that sanitarium of yours. You are sure turning out some neat kids!!

    =)

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  9. I truly love you Jen. You have made me think of all the good in a sometimes dreaded Mother's Day.

    I hope you have a fabulous Mother's Day.

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  10. hey! thanks for stopping past my blog. =) i love fresh voices.
    as for your post, i was very touched by your remarks.
    while growing up, my family was a foster family. you're completely right about a person wanting their own mom, no matter what has occurred in their lives.
    i appreciate your desire to increase consistency in life. i have recently been feeling the same way. my personal word/theme for this year has been "gentle." it's on my mirror in big bold letters. i love the idea of being more gentle in all manners of life, however i'm wondering if it's wrong to switch gears partially through the year for my need for consistency feels more urgent as of late. does that sound bizarre? oh well, i know, no matter what, i need to improve on it. you amaze me, with your family of 8 + 1 dog...we are a family of 3 + 2 dogs + 1 cat and i still can't keep up it seems. i've got a lot of work ahead of me. =) thanks again for the insight, it is so timely. i appreciate it more than you know!

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  11. Another wonderful post. I loved the story about your boys....success!
    My failure that I worry about is that I cannot do everything that all of the other moms can do. I have chronic pain that sometimes forces me to cancel plans. Hubby works odd hours so sometimes my kids cannot go to their church group or have friends over like we had planned. I hope they don't hold that against me and will understand someday. My successes would be that I think I have done well in teaching my kids to manage money, clean, organize, & respect authority. These things will help them greatly in their adult years.

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  12. Thanks for coming up with this idea! I have loved all your posts this week and have to admit that i have missed my own Grandma more this week than for a long time. It is good to remember and share their legacies.

    Thanks.
    Gabe

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  13. This was such a good idea, Jen! I've enjoyed reading your posts all week long,and today there are so many others. I love Diana's comment that she recognizes that every mother and situation is different and we need to be aware that all is not always what it seems. So true. Even the ladies who appear to be the most together can be in need of something crucial - it can sometimes be very surprising and touching. We need to love each other (and ourselves!)better.

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  14. I have loved reading your stories this week,so glad you decided to share. I joined your linky party, but be warned-I wrote a short novel. Ridiculous! You may not have noticed, but I seem to have a hard time being succinct!

    Love the success stories-sounded to me like you have been practicing temperance! :) Hope you have a fabulous Mother's Day!

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  15. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this. I can relate so well! And,everything you said here was just what I needed to hear. By the way, LOVE the Christmas picture!!!

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  16. Hello,

    You don't know me, I am a friend of a friend, and I cannot remember how I have found your blog, but I have, and I liked it. So regularly I come and read a little bit about you and your wonderful family.

    Well, I did not do a special "mother day post" on my blog, but I'll answer your questions.

    As a mom, I think I could do a lot better at listening. So many times, I'm doing something else (dishes, cooking or changing a diaper...) or thinking about something else (groceries shopping list, how to fix this or that) when my children are talking to me. I can see that they are very passionate about what they are telling me, but I'm not REALLY listening, and I think that they can feel than I am not really THERE.
    Poor children, for sure I will improve in this area. I will stop for a moment what I'm doing and will look at them, and will not let my mind go somewhere else. They need my full attention.

    I can say that I am a good mother, because I love my children and they know it. I know that they are happy children, because they feel loved and secure.
    If my children are happy, then I am happy too! And if I am happy, so are my children.
    I am a very cheerful person, so happiness is definitively in our home.

    Happy Mother Day.

    Elodie.

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  17. My 25 yo daughter described her dad's and my parenting just the other day as "inconsistent." Funny, I thought, it was called making better decisions in love, due to enlightened information...can you spell just-if-i-ca-tion?

    Happy Mother's Day to you. What a beautiful family you have!

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  18. You don't know me but I stumbled across your blog on mother's day when I was googling a quote about motherhood/womanhood and up came your blog! I loved what I read and couldn't believe it looks like you live right near me and we have a few mutual friends:). thanks for sharing your heart and being so open. I even entered your little challenge and although my blog is usually blocked (for a variety of reasons) I opened it for a few days since I entered. I can totally relate to you attitude on life, motherhood and family and thank you for your insight. I guess that is what blogging is all about!

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  19. I am catching up on my blog reading and just came to your wonderful posts. Even though I am getting to them rather late, I still wanted to comment.

    Whenever I am asked for parenting advice, my first response to the person asking is "Always be consistent." I learned that the hard way when my boys were young and Thank God I did learn it! A parent must also truly listen to their children and to do so with an open heart and mind. I also feel it is very important to treat each child as the unique individual that they are - what is good for one child may not be good for another child. Always show your love and never withhold it as punishment or make a child wonder whether they are loved. Tell them and show them and do it with sincerity.

    You sound like you are great mother and wonderful inspiration to other mothers.

    ~ Tracy

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