Being Quiet Makes Me a Better Mom

Being Quiet Makes Me a Better Mom

February 20, 2022 0 By Laura

Some days, I feel like I’m just absolutely blowing it as a mom. I feel like all I’ve done is criticize and nitpick and snap. I’ve blatantly ignored fights between siblings, said no to just about everything, and gotten frustrated at the silliest things. I’ve withheld hugs because of a lack of compassion or because I’m just so tired of being touched. I’ve resisted bedtime stories and movie nights and moments of laughter because I’m irritated or tired or stressed. I’ve skimmed over what could have been amazing moments because I’m just done with today or I’m just too zapped of energy to enjoy them.

Some days, it’s all I can do to say goodnight with a forced smile and hope to Jesus that my kids stay in bed so that I don’t have to try to parent anymore. And the nights that someone does get out of bed after an already too long day… I am impatient and frustrated and just plain rude.

But once everyone is asleep and I’m finally winding down, it’s in those calm, quiet moments that all the guilt surfaces. I should have just given her another hug. I should have just helped him with his math. I should have just responded calmly rather than yelling. I should have just let her go out and play. I should have given him the toy back after he apologized.

Some days, my life is full of all the “should have” moments that I wish I could go back and fix. The ones that I swear I’ll do better with tomorrow. But then tomorrow comes, and there are more fights and frustrations and I mess it up again. I’m short and snappy in my response. I meet sadness with irritation rather than empathy. I respond impatiently when someone takes a decade to put on a pair of shoes. The moments of frustration are real, and the mom guilt is more real. The guilt at the end of the day can sometimes be debilitating. But I don’t just want to sit in the guilt. What purpose does that serve? I like solutions and I like to fix things. So rather than let myself wallow in guilt, I want to figure out how to avoid the future “should have” moments. When the inevitable moments of frustration come up tomorrow, how can I choose differently? How can I do better? What can I do now, in the silent, guilt-filled moments, to set myself up for success tomorrow?

I wish I had an easy answer. I wish I had a three-step process or five-step solution to always respond lovingly and always approach parenting with compassion, care, and endless patience. But I don’t. Partially because it’s not that simple, and partially because I’m human and parenting is hard. Being an adult is hard in and of itself, and then trying to navigate the struggles of adulthood while simultaneously being responsible for tiny humans who are even worse at being human? It’s nearly impossible.

I have to remind myself a lot that my kids are still learning how to be people. Sure, they know how to walk and talk and feed themselves, but they don’t know how to be patient or kind or selfless because those things are learned and not instinctive. In fact, the opposite of many positive characteristics we desire are the instinctive, natural ones, and we spend the entirety of our lives trying to reverse those negative instincts and instead embrace and live out the unnatural, yet much better, ones.

So what do I do when my kids’ natural instincts take over and they are simply being kids, yet it drives me nuts? How do I handle their humanness and kid-like nature bumping into my plans and timelines and cleanliness and quiet? How do I manage my own expectations for how they’re acting versus how I want them to act? And, perhaps more importantly, how do I respond appropriately so that everyone comes out of that situation better, more loved, and more equipped for life as a quality human?

That’s when I think about the other days. The days where I don’t feel like I’m blowing it and instead feeling like I’m actually doing a decent job at this mom thing. When I compare the great days with the not-so-fantastic days, I can pinpoint two big things that make the biggest difference: time with Jesus and mindfulness. I think the time with Jesus is relatively simple and more clear-cut, so I’m going to gloss over that momentarily. Let’s look at the second part of that.

Mindfulness. The word has a lot of connotation associated with it, so let me explain exactly what I mean. I mean being alone with yourself and being quiet, thoughtful, and introspective. I mean allowing yourself to sit in feelings, whether good or bad, and process them and work through them on your own—not with the help of a friend, counselor, social media, or google. I just mean sitting and thinking and letting your thoughts and feelings take you wherever they desire for a time. For some, this is meditation. For others, it’s prayer. For me, generally speaking, it’s writing and journaling. It’s about letting my mouth be quiet and my ears have a rest from noise, and it’s letting my brain and heart guide and direct me wherever they want me to go.

Sometimes, mindfulness takes me to overwhelming places where I don’t want to be. I try to stay in some of those places for a little bit and acknowledge how I feel and why I feel that way, but I also like to pull myself back to things that are good and true and lovely and pure (Philippians 4:8). I like to explore the why and how of my feelings, and I like to delve into possible solutions for anything stressful, hard, or guilt-filled. I may not find a solution, but I like to work toward resolution of some of the not-so-nice feelings and thoughts that may arise in these times of being mindful. I want to understand why I feel the way I do, especially with the not-so-nice feelings, so that I can learn how to process them in an emotionally healthy way so that I can eventually move forward from them.

For me, it’s primarily about being quiet. It’s choosing to not turn on the TV or scroll social media. When I’m intentional about being mindful and silent at night or in the morning, it really sets me up to be more at peace with myself, my life, and my interactions. I’m a better mom and a better friend and a better Christ-follower when I take time to be still and quiet.

Mindfulness is similar to praying for me, but they do differ a bit. Prayer is mostly me speaking to God, whereas mindfulness is me trying to listen and learn and process. They overlap in many ways since I normally talk to God frequently throughout the day, but praying feels more active while being silent and still feels more passive. I’m not really attempting to fix anything but am more so letting myself think through whatever needs to be addressed.

I’ve found that when I am constantly busy and filling every second of my day with something, I am not a great mom. I’m more irritable, more stressed, way less patient, and far less compassionate. And this rings true regardless of what I’m filing my time with. It could be great things like family time and work and cleaning, or it could be not great things, like social media and Pinterest and online shopping. Either way, when I disconnect and let myself be still, even when I don’t necessarily want to, I parent better. I love deeper, respond better, and have more joy and less stress. I also have less guilt at the end of the day because I can see many small victories throughout the day, rather than many “should have” moments.