Mothering Mess

I was thinking yesterday about being a mom and what I wish I had known earlier in my imperfect stint as a mother of three. The first thing that came to my mind was “the personalities.”

Discovering this concept started me on the long journey to self-acceptance and knowing my true identity. I was eventually released from the comparison syndrome, performance trap and the self-worth roller coaster. Whew! Was I ever glad to get off that ride. Not that the enemy doesn’t try to ensnare me again but I’m much wiser to his tricks.

You’re probably wondering, “What does that have to do with being a mom?” Well, it takes a lot of energy striving to be something you are not. Striving robs you of energy that could go toward being in the moment with your children, having fun and being creative.

Being a perfectionist is time consuming, exhausting and anger producing. That’s time being robbed from being with our children mentally and physically. Time wasted. It affects the dynamics of all our relationships.

Before you beat yourself up, know you’re in good company. Most of us get caught up in these issues to some extent. None of us are perfect mothers – perfect anything.

Thirty some years ago I remember being invited to Carol’s home for coffee and conversation. After arriving she invited me to follow her as she finished putting away her laundry. Yes, some people do that after washing and folding them. I probably would have stuffed them in the nearest closet and got on with the conversation.

I was surprised with how organized her daughter’s closet was. Dresses neatly hung together color coordinated with nothing touching. As she put away the different colored socks neatly in their rows, I noticed the white socks were glowing white. Guilt immediately reared its ugly head and I thought, “Something’s wrong with me. My whites are dingy and my kid’s drawers are messy. My husband is just lucky to have matching socks somewhere in his drawer. What kind of person am I?”

My shame message, “I’m a mess” repeated in my head fueling my need to perform better causing the self-worth roller coaster to take a sudden, deep plunge. Familiar?

You see I was comparing myself with Carol. What I didn’t know then was my personality combination isn’t motivated to be that organized – it isn’t fun and it takes too much time. She was that way by nature.

I wanted to be more quiet and reserved like Carol, less of a lightening rod for criticism. I wanted to be more organized and less of an open-mouth-insert-foot kind of person. But alas, I was not. Not in the least.

I first learned about the personalities in the summer of 1983 while Ryan was still in my womb. My new friend, Kathy Burton, gave me the book, Personality Plus, by Florence Littauer and I laughed and cried as my true self leaped from the pages.

You see, I didn’t understand that each of us is a unique combination of our parents’ DNA which, when combined with other factors, determines how we are motivated to think and act and be in the world.

I always compared myself with others and came up short, thinking I should be more like them. But the truth is that each of us is unique and we aren’t supposed to be just like anyone else. It’s really is okay to be different.

There are no right or wrong personalities. Each personality has its own strengths and weaknesses. None of us come out unscathed. However, we are each blessed with wonderful strengths that can outweigh the weakness with the help of the Holy Spirit.

What would be my “hand me down” to mothers? Take the time to know yourself by learning about your personality and who you are wired to be. Give yourself permission to be you.

There really is hope for us messy mothers — we have other strengths.

PS: Wired That Way by Marita and Florence Littauer would be a good way to start understanding yourself.

Angela Coon is supposed to be retired but she does almost as much ministry as before with less stress and even more fun. She loves spending time with her seven grandchildren and going on Prayer Drives, studying the Word and having women in her home for small groups, cooking new recipes and writing blogs,  mentoring and encouraging others to be all God has designed them to be. She was on staff at Calvary as Creative Arts Pastor for 25 years, speaker at retreats and conferences and has been a Pastor’s wife for 47 years.

 

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