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Beacon Senior News

Moms, you're imperfect, and it's okay!

May 09, 2019 10:25AM ● By Kimberly Blaker

“I realized when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.” - Mitch Albom

As moms, we all know Albom's statement is unequivocally true. We feel it through and through from the moment our children are born until we take our dying breath. Our love for and devotion to our kids shone through in daily selfless acts of caring for and raising our kids and in most of our interactions with them. Even now that they've grown, our deep love and concern for our kids endures.

We don't always recognize or give ourselves credit for it (and our kids don’t always either), but many of the mistakes we made along the way were the result of loving, honorable intentions. Admittedly, we sometimes faltered—after all, we're only human. But when we did err with our kids, particularly in ways we knew better, we were often our own harshest critics.

“I assure you there are no areas of perfection here in this mama,” said Cindy Martin, a Cedaredge resident and mother of four. “Just a lot of love, grace and trust. Love covers all our shortcomings. It covers my failures and fills in the gaps. I love my kids more than I love me, and it’s always been that way.” Enacting the role Despite the depth of our love for our kids, the answers to raising them weren't always so black and white. Every mom has her own unique combination of life experiences, temperament and personality, along with other factors that affect her decisions and behaviors in parenting.

Brooke Alire talks to her mother, Lana Middleton, every day. She turns to her regularly for advice, especially during these formative years of raising her daughters, Lily and Autumn.

“You don’t often appreciate your mom until you become a mom, and being a mom is so hard—it’s like the hardest job on the planet,” said Alire, who lives in Grand Junction with her daughters and her husband, Anthony.

While she’s pleased to have inherited some of her mom's noble characteristics—honesty, trustworthiness and a strong work ethic—Alire said there a few things she and her husband choose to do differently when it comes to raising their own kids.

“I was the baby of the family, and I pretty much got away with a lot,” Alire said. “With my own children, I’m probably the exact opposite.”

All moms have strengths and weaknesses. In most ways, we totally rocked at being a mom. In some areas, we had to work a little harder.

All this makes me think back to playing house as a kid. From this, we can glimpse how we as kids began to formulate ideas on how to be a mom, or dad. We've probably all watched our own children in awe over what tender, loving little moms (or dads) they are to their baby dolls. It's inspiring and tells you what a great job you've done, but then, the completely unexpected happens. Your child slips in one of your less than proud moments of being a mom. Ouch!

“I’ve had many conversations with our children about the choices we make and their consequences. I’ve allowed them to live out consequences—the good ones and not-so-pleasant ones—and have helped them to push on, finish strong and march on," said Martin. "I’ve believed in their hearts, knowing that even though they may not get it on the first try, they will land exactly where they set their sights.”

Learning from Mom As we all grow, we develop more independent ideas on the best ways to mom, based on our own experiences, what we've seen in other families or on television, and our personalities. So we formulate what the perfect mom looks like.

Perfection, admittedly, is something Martin’s daughter and second-born, Jamie Schnepfe, sometimes struggles with while raising her own two daughters, Lily and Daisy. But with time, help from her mom and her faith in God, she’s found a better balance.

“I can definitely be a perfectionist with certain things,” she said. “My mom always kept a clean house, so I’m a little OCD about cleanliness, which I’ve had to let slide over time because kids are just messy.”

Another example that came to mind was how she used to make all of her first-born’s baby food from scratch.

“My mom would get out a jar of baby food and she’d tell me, ‘You ate food out of a jar and you're just fine.’ Now, with Daisy, I do pretty much everything my mom did. Her suggestions have caught on a little bit more,” she said.

My own mom played a big role in the formation of my own mom style. She was very involved and provided my sisters and me with plenty of enrichment and fun. We did crafts, played games, had parties and sleepovers, took trips to the library, went for walks and bike rides, and so much more. She also taught me about money, responsibility, generosity, kindness and so many other valuable lessons, skills and traits.

Still, like any other mom, she wasn't perfect. I knew the ways I wanted to be different, or better. When my kids were born, I let these lessons guide me in parenting my own kids.

When it comes to his mom, Rosie, Alire's husband, Anthony, said, "My mom always made sure we had everything we needed and things that we wanted, no matter how hard she had to work. I think I got a lot of that from her because I'm always trying to give our kids what they want, but sometimes I think I spoil them a little too much."

If it weren’t for Rosie and her mom, Alire said she wouldn’t be the mom she is today.

“I’m a mix of both of them,” she said. “My mom taught me to be a strong-willed person, and my girls are also very strong willed.”

Being the best you can be Throughout my kids' childhood, I strove to be the best mom I could be. But despite all this, I still fell far short of being perfect.

Thankfully, now that my kids are grown, my mom has set me straight. She often points out what a great mom I've been. She's always amazed by my patience with my kids (though admittedly, there were times it ran thin), but as I mentioned, moms are particularly good at noticing in others the areas where they lack.

“Jamie is every bit the mom I’d hoped she’d be, and my oldest son, Christopher, is every bit the daddy,” said Martin. “They both have their points of purpose with their kids. Those points may not be exactly like mine all the time, but I love to see them embrace the most important responsibility they will ever have with enthusiasm and excellence.”

This makes me think about what I notice in my own daughter who's now raising two young kids. I always admire how much time she spends just cuddling with them. I've always wished I’d done better with that. Not that I never cuddled them. I've just always had trouble sitting still. The point I'm trying to make is that each and every mom is wonderful in her own ways.

Am I saying we shouldn't have tried to be better moms? Of course not. What I'm getting at is moms need to recognize their own strengths and value themselves for who they are. Practice self-forgiveness and self-acceptance for being an imperfect mom, and know you were the best mom you could be. "My mom is always the first person I ask to pray for me," said Schnepfe. "She taught me to make friends that can support that and influenced me to reach for my goals and not give up on things."

Despite the imperfections of every mom, two things have and will always remain constant: a mother's deep love and unfailing devotion to her kids, and the insurmountable value of moms to their kids throughout their lives.