When I was preparing to come home from the workforce, one of the things that concerned me was the lack of confirmation in how I was doing as a mother in the day-to -day. Sure, that sounds silly and I was halfway joking when I voiced this concern to my husband. But in all honesty I’d been working for nearly 10 years in sales which meant I always knew how I was doing at my job. I knew because there were very clear and quantifiable ways to gauge it. There were the daily indicators: I’d close an account, leave a meeting with a signed contract, exceed goals for the month, etc. There were also obvious signs like quarterly or annual reviews with a boss. Suddenly I transitioned to being a stay at home mom and other than the kids being alive and fed, I discovered sometimes it’s hard to measure how I was really doing in this new role.
For the first time in my adult life I found myself without a boss or any true litmus test for how things were going on the daily. After about 6 months at home I decided to write some personal mothering goals I wanted to be conscious of. Something I could look back at and see whether I’d grown or stayed stagnant; the whole premise was similar to my days in business, and similar to a performance review. A Momma’s Performance Review, if you will. And it goes like this:
Be Intentional – This one is probably the easiest to put into effect and check myself on. I am so much more intentional now as a mother than I ever was before. I am intentional with my time, my money, my schedule, the things I say, people I surround myself with, attitudes I allow my girls to be around, everything. Even with some things that prior to having kids, I would have thought were just plain silly: things like how I wear my hair, the shoes I wear, the order which I knock out chores from my to-do list, home décor decisions, and what I order when I’m out to eat. There are more reasons to why and how I do things now, because there are more people I am constantly thinking about.
Quit Ascribing Intent – Whoa. This one is hard. I once read an article about not taking to heart things other people say or do and it hit me so square between the eyes it’s been on my self-improvement list since then; I continually have to make it a point to not take offense to innocuous actions of other people.
So a couple girlfriends get together for a playdate or coffee and don’t extend the invitation, no biggie, it’s not personal. They probably just ran into one another at the grocery store and quickly set something up. Run into a friend and she doesn’t mention your radical new haircut? Who knows what’s going on in her world that made seeing past her own stress or current predicament impossible. Or what about those stages that every toddler goes through: “I don’t want Mommy to do bedtime! I want Daddy to tuck me in!” Ouch. The toddler shun is real and painful, but also nothing to be deeply offended by.
Taking offense and having hurt feelings doesn’t just end there, typically it trickles into other areas of our lives (okay, maybe this is just me?) Left to fester it can wreck attitudes, afternoons and plague us with self-doubt. Why bother?
If I See Beauty, Speak It – ESPECIALLY to other women & mothers – If you are not doing this, start now. It’s a continual blessing to me in my life.
Work Hard to Not Impose My Impatience or Unrealistic Timeline on My Girls – I always thought I’d be a patient mom and then I spent the entirety of a day watching my two year old try to put her own headband on. Over and over again. All day long. It was easily the most painful, albeit adorable, thing I’ve ever had to watch. I teetered somewhere between wanting to film her to savor this endearing stage of independence and shouting, “HERE JUST LET MOMMY DO IT!”
With a 1 year old and a 2 year old: NOTHING GETS DONE QUICKLY. It takes us 20+ minutes to get out the door and that’s when everyone is already fed and dressed. I’m talking, just to get shoes on and get moved from the house to the car can feel like a three ring circus. I continually have to remind myself: “We’re just going to Target” or “We’re only going to the library, we’re not on a schedule.” While I’d love for them to just let me put their shoes on their feet or feed them their applesauce, sometimes I need to remind myself they need to learn which foot is which and how to hold a spoon.
Be Less Critical of Myself – I’m working hard to hold myself to a standard of grace, and not perfection. This has been a mantra in my head since before my first was born and I was unexpectedly put on bedrest 2 weeks before Christmas and 3.5 weeks before my due date. I very suddenly found myself with a mountain of things I wanted to complete on my maternity leave, and was point blank told no. They’d have to go undone. No Christmas cookies, no Christmas shopping, no more decorating the house, I was done making freezer meals, no more nesting in the nursery, I simply was not allowed to do it. Of course it seems petty now, but they were things I was looking forward to doing before our daughter arrived. So I let the things go. All of them.
I want my girls see a momma who’s proud of herself and her accomplishments, even when things don’t go as I’d hoped. I want them to see me stumble, brush myself off and try again. I want them to see a momma proud of her efforts, her teammates, and her integrity. There aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish my to-do lists AND mold and shape their young minds. To any mommas out there feeling defeated over what went UNdone and not what GOT done: I see you. A+ for effort, Momma.
So there it is. And a year from now, just like in business, my goals will likely be totally different. I’ll have new family hurdles. I’ll be starting as a different momma. A different woman. A woman with new goals to strive towards, new thoughts, new trials and new emotions. I’ll assess the market trends and reevaluated where I’m at, what I need to do to get where I want to be and assign myself some new clear Performance Review markers.
I’ll always be working on myself, I’m a messy perpetual work in progress and that’s okay.