My Go-To Mothering Method (It’s Not What You Think)

I don’t feel ready to spill the specifics of some of my parenting blunders. At least not yet. (But I can feel it coming.)

So in the meantime, I will give you some hints.

Am I a selfish parent, borderline narcissistic? Probably.

Am I terrible at regulating my emotions? Pretty much.

Do my eyes light up every morning when I see my kids come downstairs? Hardly.

Do they hear me swear? Hell, yes.

Are some of those potent words ever directed at them? Gulp. Yes.

Do I apologize and seek repair when “a conversation goes off the rails” (the most important parenting strategy according to Dr. Becky)? Maybe 30% of the time.

Although I haven’t shared details- those feel too vulnerable, too fresh- I’ve given you a tiny overview of the lowlights on my motherhood journey.

I’m curious what you think…would it help for me to share the particulars about the very real circus staged inside my home?

My guess is yes. Because I know how unhelpful it feels to be submersed in others’ splendor of success.

For my first 7 years of motherhood, I followed certain homeschool communities and people who were passionate about sharing the most pristine and peaceful pictures of children and their learning environments.

I know they meant to inspire, to show us how much warmth, beauty, and relationship-centered education was possible in our little homeschool world.

Of course, they mentioned the chaos, the tantrums, the sibling arguments, and the exhaustion present behind the scenes.

And yet, it was obvious they intentionally kept the circus-type content out of the center.

Their main objective with all their materials was to showcase the tender, encourage the cozy, and guide us toward compassion.

Are you kidding me…Who doesn’t want to consume more of that? Their community kept me going, or rather reaching for what I thought I could embody someday soon if I only figured out how to make my kids stop fighting and for me to finally dawn my gentle parenting strategies.

I stayed in denial for many years, despite my husband’s not-so-subtle hints…maybe we should at least check out the public school down the road just to see our options?

NEVER. It wasn’t even a question for me, even though I couldn’t stand the mother I was becoming with each passing year I homeschooled.

Unable to concoct a colorful, creative space for my children to fall in love with learning, complete with steaming sourdough bread and glowing tapered candles to adorn the table, I felt like a failure so I kept trying harder.

Check out all the books.

Buy all the curriculum.

Balance their academic lessons with nature outings and free play.

Although I wish I had found another community not so caught up in portraying a picturesque homeschool life, I’m proud of myself for finally collapsing and confessing.

Collapsing under the weight of loving little ones. into the chaos of my constant stress.

And confessing my truth (even especially if it was only to myself) – the exhaustion, the stress, the complicated feelings, my frailty, and how much I hated being my children’s teacher.

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Oddly enough, I find the magic of my motherhood journey comes through my meltdown moments.

Collapse and confess is the awkward two-step jig we need to remember when we’re ready to dance out from the impossible standards we’ve placed upon ourselves as mothers.

It’s the secret to settling into your unique rhythm again and releasing ourselves from cultural pressures and picturesque displays of life with children, to finally embrace your version of motherhood.

I wish I could say the shit show has ended since releasing my children into the hands of angelic teachers. It hasn’t.

Collapse and confess is still my go-to method for mothering.

Everyday there’s an ugly collapse, another brutal confession. I feel wobbly, woozy, disorientated, and unsteady. It seems just when I’ve found my feet, taken up the confident pose- hands on my hips, I’m put in my place. Motherhood is a steep learning curve.

Now that my children’s memory banks are up and running, they will most likely remember me in my unsavory moments, er, seasons.

This used to freak me out.

I thought I had to have it all together by the time their brains were fully online. As you can tell, my dream of being a delightfully sweet and sturdy mother has disappeared.

But my children will get all of me. Quite literally they will see me naked, unashamed, a mama devoted to her self-exploration and growth. A mother who welcomes her vertigo, who isn’t afraid to crawl through this circus on her knees.

They will dwell in a home decorated with a dizzying sort of love that resembles real life and this rough and ridiculous adventure through the most beautiful terrain you could imagine.

Pretty pictures probably won’t be my legacy, neither will a serene and calm childhood. But I will create a home where every heart feels safe to dance the collapse and confess jig without fear or judgment…we’re all learning here.

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For more encouragement:

This month, I experienced the absolute delight of diving into Jessi Klein’s book, I’ll Show Myself Out. It was like having a sleepover with another mama in the trenches. I didn’t want this book to end- I laughed and cried and nodded my head the whole way through.

Also, highly recommend Dr. Becky’s podcast and book, Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be

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