Maybe “Radical Acceptance” starts with me

On Friday night, my husband stayed up with me till 11:30pm, as tears ran into my ears, trying to tell me true things about myself and the hard, hard road called parenthood.

It had been a long day, after a long week, after a long two weeks.
Let’s face it, the summer is getting long.

“If I was really a good mom, I’d enjoy being around them all the time.”
“Why do you say stuff like that?”
“Because it’s true!”
“It is not true. You have this ideal in your head, like the Perfect Mom. Stop trying to be the Perfect Mom and just be yourself.”

He was right, of course.

I have these ideals in my head of “Perfect Mom.”
Perfect Mom loves being around her kids all the time.
Perfect Mom reads the Bible to her kids every day.
Perfect Mom always disciplines with wisdom and a calm demeanor.
Perfect Mom limits screen time to the recommend 30 minutes a day.
Perfect Mom patently listens to her 8 year old twins read out loud for 20 minutes (each!) each day.
Perfect Mom cherishes each moment of Summer vacation as a time to connect and grow with her children.
Perfect Mom loves to play outside, and especially take her kids to the pool!
Perfect Mom is patient, kind, and loving all the time.

But I am not Perfect Mom. I am constantly falling short of my own ideals and then I get angry. I blow up because I am tired and my house is messy and my kids drive me nuts (because they are not Perfect either) and because I am STILL NOT PERFECT.
I read an amazing blog post this weekend about Radical Acceptance of your child.

Que more tears because, damn it, if I am not struggling with this too.

When I am not slamming myself for not being Perfect, I’m passing the buck to my kids for not being Perfect either.

The article challenged readers to strive for Radical Acceptance of their loved ones, as it is family members who often struggle the most with wishing their Imperfect loved one was different.

I’m going to be honest: Sometimes I wish my kids were different. I wish parenting them was not so hard.

But most of the time, I wish I was different. My kids don’t need to change: I do.

And in many ways, this is true.  I have a lot of growth to do.

But, if I am going to love my four little neighbors, the children God has given me to love and live with, I have to love myself too.

The mother in the Radical Acceptance article wrote, “Living with a person who wants you to be fundamentally different than you are… is toxic.”

Perfect Mom is always crushing me with her ideals, leaving guilt and bitterness in the wake of her unrealistic expectations.

Maybe Radical Acceptance has to start with me.

Maybe Radical Acceptance of who I am as a person and as a mother is what people mean when they say you need to have Grace with yourself as a parent.

I need to stop fitting myself into a mold of Perfect Mom and start accepting who I really am as a person, and what I, Brittany Arpke Meng, bring to the table as a mother to my unique children.

I need to stop forcing myself to become a version of perfection that I will never attain. That is toxic, both to my boys, and to me.

I need to accept my gifts, my limitations, my triggers, my talents, my need for rest, as much as I need to accept the truth that God looked at my children when he made them and called them Good.

And then He gave them to me and said, “Here. I have a good, good gift for you. I love you. I want to give you good things. Cherish them. And be gentle with yourself as I am gentle with you. When I made you, I called you Good as well.”

Please, share your wisdom:
How do you parent like “you”?
How do you kill the Perfect Parent and just accept yourself and your child for who you were both meant to be?

 

I hope that my story can bring hope, healing, and happiness to you. Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know? If so, please like and share! Thank you! 🙂

2 Comments

  1. bellabooksandbaking

    I feel like Jane from P&P would be “Perfect Mom” with a row of perfect little, mild-mannered children and perfect patience for when those perfect children made little tiny mistakes (for which they apologized perfectly). But her story isn’t the one we’re most interested in or the one we identify with. Lizzie is the one we care about because she’s smart, a little sassy,… and she makes mistakes, learns from them, and grows. And I imagine her parenting of all those future little Darcies would be full of mistakes and learning and growing, too.

    Future little Darcies… If only Austen did sequels.

    The Janes of this world (or the ones who appear to be so) are admirable, but it’s the Lizzies that I think make the greater impressions and have the most wisdom to share.

    So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that you’re way too interesting to be “Perfect Mom” and seeing someone as smart and capable as you are not only admit to weaknesses but also strive to learn from them gives those of us who are terrified of the idea of being insufficient parents a measure of hope. You don’t have to be perfect to be a parent. You just have to be willing to keep trying, right?

    • I love your Jane/Lizzie comparison. You are exactly right. Another mom posted on FB that she feels this way about the term “good mom.” I whole-heartedly agreed; in fact, I should have swapped “Perfect” for “good” in this post. It’s the same struggle. Acceptance of your own shortcomings is half the battle. The other half of parenthood is cleaning up messes. 😉
      Thanks for reading and for speaking my literary language, Melissa! <3

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