I’m starting this post with a confession:
Yesterday was a “bad mom” day for me.

Just after supper, I sat down on the couch across from Andrew & Levi and simply stated:
“I feel like a bad mom today.”

The reasons, looking back, were a little silly.
I was getting extremely irritated by the consistent screaming and antics of a very busy toddler.
I was tired because I hadn’t slept much the night before, and wanted to take a nap.
I didn’t feel like reading the book “gin” (Levi’s word for again).
I just wanted to drink a coffee in peace and read my book – but instead, Levi decided to fight bedtime and stay up late.
I was getting frustrated.
I wanted alone time, peace and quiet, space.
I daydreamed about getting back to work on Wednesday and how nice that was going to be.

For a fraction of a second, I even thought back to the days before Levi and reminisced about how little I appreciated them.

And instantly, felt horrible.

What kind of mom thinks like that?

If I was looking at the situation objectively, I probably would have thought:
“Wow, I’m feeling human. I’m not super-mom. I’m sure everyone has days like this. This is normal.”

If a friend confided those feelings in me, I would have been quick to reassure her.
Tell her that we all feel that way, and those toddlers can be hard to handle sometimes.
There’s nothing wrong with having a little peace and quiet.
Don’t beat yourself up!

But those reassurances are for other people.
They’re for good moms.
Not for me.

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It’s funny isn’t it, how as parents, we so often hold ourselves to a higher and harsher standard than we do anyone else.
We look at the people around us and pat them on the back, tell them they’re doing a good job, and send encouraging texts to tell them “You got this! You deserve a break!”
We read blog posts and articles and funny memes online from frustrated and tired parents and empathize, comment and share with all our mom friends.

But then, we have a bad day (or even just a bad moment) and judge ourselves.
We are quick to plaster ourselves with the label of ‘bad mom’ or ‘failure.’
We should be “on” all the time – always reading one more story, always presenting delicious home cooked meals, always enjoying spending time with our kids.
It’s okay for other people to feel human – but not us.

I’ve found this trend of holding ourselves to impossible standards (perfectionism, some may call it) doesn’t just permeate our parenting, but all areas of our lives.
We must be perfect parents, perfect employees, perfect cooks & housekeepers, perfect friends, perfect volunteers, perfect Christians, perfect spouses… and on-and-on the list goes.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle to make room for my own shortcomings and failures – even just my own humanness.
I expect myself to be all together all of the time, and beat myself up when I’m not.

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Funny enough, today was a “good-mom” day.
Levi was well-behaved, funny and affectionate.
This afternoon, we had a 2-hour nap together (a rare occurence) and then ate supper, snuggled and read stories until he fell asleep.

But, I did nothing differently.
I was the same me as I was yesterday.
I had some of the same feelings when I woke up this morning.

As I sit reflecting on my “bad mom day” yesterday and my “good mom day” today, I’m reminded of a simple truth –
they’re both normal.
And expected.

Ups and downs are a part of not just parenting – but life.
An array of emotions – from joy to exhaustion and everything in between – are a normal part of this whole parenting gig.

I need to learn – and I bet so do you – that parenting isn’t an exercise in perfection.
It’s living an authentic life, being present, day-in and day-out in front of your kids, and being okay with the bad days as much as the good.

I also need to learn – every single day – that the perfection I seek isn’t found in me.
It’s found in Him.
The God whose  “strength is made perfect in my weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:8).
He loves me on bad days, and good ones, and keeps things going when I feel like I just can’t.

So when my next “bad mom day” comes (which could be tomorrow or maybe next week), I’ll try to take a few deep breaths and treat myself as I would a dear friend.

Maybe treat myself to a coffee or ice cream and a few extra minutes in the shower.

And keep on going, and loving, and trusting.
Because perfection isn’t the goal.
Presence is.

And even on my bad days, and on yours, we can manage that.

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