From news headlines to friends’ Facebook posts, it sounds like 2016 was a pretty rough year all around. Mine wasn’t great either. I had personal losses, professional disappointments, and parenting challenges. I spent a lot of time in 2016 questioning how I’m doing as a mom, a wife, and a person. Need a reminder of some of my challenges to make yourself feel better? You can review them in all their ugly glory here, here, here, and here. I was recently tempted to tumble down that rabbit hole of parental doubt, but decided instead that 2017 is going to a year of celebration for me. I’m not perfect, but I’m going to celebrate my imperfections and try to improve them rather than berate myself for them. Who’s with me?!
And in the spirit of full disclosure, this post is REALLY hard to write. It’s easy to be honest about my shortcomings. We can all make self-deprecating comments and laugh at one another’s failures, but when was the last time you publicly praised yourself for something? Try it. You think admitting failure is hard? Admitting a success is a whole new type of vulnerability! So I admittedly write this with a little bit of fear – fear of judgment, fear of backlash, fear of setting myself to be proven wrong. But that’s what is pushing me to remind myself and my fellow moms that we have a lot to be proud of.
So here are my top five proud-mama praises. And I hope that you’ll add yours to the list!
- I’m proud that I’m just a tad political (cue eye-rolls from those closest to me who would argue that “tad” is an understatement). My daughters have two parents with differing beliefs but who both pay attention and both CARE about the political process and our civic duty. Our girls watched the presidential debates and asked us questions about the candidates. They were engaged in the election at only 7 and 9 years old. They have a mom who won’t just vote the way her husband votes because that’s what good wives do, or who can’t be bothered to educate herself on the issues because that’s for someone else to worry about. Complacency is not acceptable in our home, and I’m proud of that. Our next generation of voters need us to care!
- As crazy as this sounds, I’m glad my kids see (and hear!) my husband and me fight. Oh, they hate it when we argue – especially about the afore-mentioned politics! – but they see us take a stand, listen to one another, get mad at one another, and find common ground again. They see that I can be stubborn and sometimes unreasonable (what?? who?? me??). They see that when I feel strongly about something, I’m not going to give it up just to keep the peace. And they see that when their mom or dad feels strongly about something, the other one listens. The other one cares. The other one is willing to examine just how important their position is and work to understand the other. It ain’t pretty, but dammit, I’m proud that my kids see real conflict and resolution!
- You know what else I’m doing right? I’m letting my kids poke my belly bulge and laugh at how jiggly my butt is without putting myself down or trying to cover up. Sure, I hate the jiggles and the dimples, but my daughters will never know that. My belly grew and protected both of them for nine months – it deserves to pooch out a bit! On the flip side, they also see me exercise and eat healthy. They hear me talk about how important good health is so that we can live the lives we want to live and do the things we want to do. And they see me enjoy treats for what they are: treats. I won’t go through life missing out on amazing flavors just because I want to look good in a swimsuit! That’s important to me, and I’m going to pat myself on the back for passing that along to my daughters.
- I’m proud that they saw me cry at an old cemetery we were exploring a few weeks ago. Those military headstones get me every time! My girls teased me about being a big wimp for crying over people I don’t even know, but I’m glad they saw my eyes well up. They’re learning respect for those who have passed, and honor for those who gave their lives in service. Wimpy or not, I always get misty-eyed in cemeteries. That’s just who I am, and I’m cool with it.
- I’m proud that I’m a selfish mama. Yes, you heard that right. I know that I’m a better mom when I’ve had some me-time. I’m more attentive, more loving, and more patient when I’ve taken care of myself. And let me assure you, this mama ain’t raising no martyrs! My daughters will not learn – from me, at least – that there’s valor in being walked on, worn out, and taken for granted. It’s possible to have a servant’s heart, value your family above all else, AND take care of yourself at the same time. I have boundaries, even with my children, and I hope that they learn how to set their own boundaries, even with me.
One more bonus thing to pat myself on the back for: My kids. I’m proud of my kids. If I have to take the blame for their bad habits, I’d better be able to take the praise for their good habits too. And my kids are great kids. That cemetery I mentioned? They collected pretty rocks to leave on the headstones and said a prayer for the souls laid to rest there. When I’ve had a hard day, they’ll bring me tea or rub my shoulders – they are already developing a serving spirit. I have amazing kids, and I’m just going to say that perhaps my husband and I have something to do with that!
So what say you, mamas? What are you proud of? What are doing that is just rocking this motherhood thing? Pat yourself on the back, and share with the rest of us what makes you an amazing mom!