July 01, 2010 Have you ever noticed that part of being a mom is trying to be the best version of yourself everyday—all day long? It's a hard task to live up to that each and every day. I realized this a few years ago when we were pulling through McDonald's. It was a hectic day with my three kids in tow, I was tired and needed a diet coke to get through the push of the afternoon. I rolled down my window and said, "A diet coke, please." It took a split second for my oldest daughter, then seven years old, to say to me, "Mom, you didn't sound very nice to that person when you ordered." Indeed, I don't think I did. In fact, I was trying to consume some caffeine so that I could find the energy to be nice for the duration of the day to my own family. It was at that moment that I realized that my kids are watching me and my actions—every minute.
Every morning before my feet hit the floor and I start the marathon day of being a mom, I pray for the strength to set a good example for my kids. Nearly 11 years ago ("BK" - "Before Kids"), I would say that I was a nice person, just extremely impatient with process. The process of what, you ask? The process of anything! What motherhood has taught me, against my own nature, is to embrace the process of things—all things. As a mom, I have had to learn patience—and lots of it!
As a list maker and goal oriented person, it was difficult for me not to measure my day by what I accomplished. Instead, I quickly realized that motherhood was indeed a process and I would cross less off of my daily task list, but have larger goals to strive for accomplishing— like raising good "little people" that will someday become good "big people." This is a hard thing to measure on a daily basis. What I have come to realize is that if I strive to be my best (whether I accomplish anything or not that day) my kids are soaking that up like little sponges. I may not have made it to the grocery store like I intended to, but I stopped to help a neighbor look for their lost dog for an hour. I still have to make it to the grocery store eventually, but our kids learn by watching how we react to things. In the end, our being aware of our actions and reactions will make our children better people.
I realize that being the best version of myself every single day is impossible. I lose my temper and patience now and then just like every other mom and I have had to explain to my kids that, in fact, I am a real person and not at all perfect under every measure. It is important for them to know and understand that I am growing and evolving into the person I want to be: A person with patience, which I have had to learn due to hands-on training as a mother.
Now, being a mom means less to me about what I have done throughout the day (although I do love the satisfaction of crossing something off of my to-do list) and more about watching how my 10 year daughter reacts to "girl drama" or how my seven year old daughter shows good sportsmanship on the soccer field during a game. My four year old? Well, I am still working on that one, but I know her independent and fun nature will add up to something unique in our family. In fact, I am a different mom to my youngest than I was when I started out on the journey of motherhood with my older kids. I have grown and changed over the past decade and my youngest reflects that growth in me. Overall, I have my kids to thank for helping me become not only a better mom, but also a better person.
Mary Susan Buhner is a Life Coach for Moms and author of "Mommy Magic: Tricks for Staying Sane in the Midst of Insanity" Visit www.Mommy-Magic.com for more information. Become a Fan of Mommy Magic on FaceBook!