Hello, I’m an Insecure Mom. Nice to Meet You.

I worry a lot about my kids. Well, not so much about them, as much as how I’m doing as a mom.

I am insecure in my mothering abilities. There, I said it…and no, it didn’t feel good to “get it off my chest.” It just sucked. And stung a little.

And, I worry. I worry and wonder if they are learning all the things they need to learn? Are we creating a home where they can grow to be themselves? Am I making God real to them? Are they going to grow up to passionately love Oreos instead of broccoli, just like their mom?

I wonder what God was thinking sometimes–giving me three children to care for. I mean, I did ask for all three of them, but since when does God give me everything I ask for?

And how did I end up homeschooling (at least this year) because man, I am so stinkin’ bad at it. I wonder what the next 10 years will look like and I immediately become exhausted–sorta like the way I feel when my mind tries to comprehend eternity. You know, where your brain hurts and feels like it might explode with thoughts of Forrrevvverrr….

But mostly, I think about what my kids will be like as adults? Will they be capable, full of character, in pursuit of their dreams? And will they inevitably look back and think “Man, mom really sucked sometimes. I wish she had done _____ or been more ______.”

Of course, I know that I’m harder on myself than I need to be. My husband is so quick to encourage me as a mom and remind me of the good, not just the bad and the ugly. While it helps, I have to admit, that motherhood has proven to be harder than anything I’ve ever done–or probably will ever do.

It’s a daily and constant exercise in faith, patience, resilience, perseverance, and trust. And many days, I feel like I’m failing.

I mean, I’m not so bad that I should be fired, but certainly demoted. CEO of motherhood, I am not. More like the entry-level mom of something or other.

But, I’m learning and all of this leads me to ask you a few rather important questions:

1. What did your parents do really well? What do you remember as their strengths?

2. What were you parents not so great at? Not to shame them or judge them, but as adults, for us to honestly evaluate where our parents were less-than-stellar.

Because, at the end of the day, motherhood–and really parenting, in general–comes down to us trusting our instincts, finding support in a community, and scooping up as much awesome parenting advice as we can. Generally, I avoid unsolicited parenting advice from strangers because they tell you things like “Rub some whiskey on their gums,” and “Kids don’t need discipline, just hugs and snuggles.”

But, we aren’t strangers. You are my friends…and I’m asking.

So have at it! Share with me your nuggets of wisdom and gold and may I read and re-read them again and again, especially on the days when locking myself in the bathroom honestly seems like the best course of action.

Oh, and while you’re at it…what makes you feel insecure? Go on. I shared mine.

15 thoughts on “Hello, I’m an Insecure Mom. Nice to Meet You.”

  1. Nicole, I used to worry about all of that. I prayed about it continually and then felt like I was supposed to confess my shortcomings to my oldest, by way of asking him what was his biggest concern and disappointment about me as his mom. He was ten at the time, and a tboghtful boy… plus, I was certain he would have a list. It was SO HARD. It was humbling. It was beyond stressful, bit I felt like I had to face up to all my shortcomings. So, I bit the bullet and asked him. He was qjiet for a minute. My eyes were closed. I couldn’t even look at him; I was so nervous. Then he asked, “Is this a joke? Are you serious? There isn’t anything you do wrong!” He’s 15 now and he might have a different perspective, but my HUGE takeaway is that I felt like I was failing and my kids simply DID NOT SEE IT. All that stress for nothing. Not that it gives me a free pass to be a crappy mom but I worry about it almost never now. That “confrontation” changed my paradigm forever. All that worry is a trap from the enemy to keep us from mothering in freedom and joy. (Also, in my observation, the moms who are afraid they’re doing the worst are typically the moms who are doing the best.) I’m not living in fantasy – I’m sure I do some things wrong now and I will in the future. And I am always looking for ways to do better as a mother… But I absolutely am confident now and a million times more peaceful.

    1. Karen,
      Thank you for sharing this story. It was just about the best thing I could have read last night before going to bed.

      As for my own “perceived” failings, so much of it is me repeating patterns from my own childhood that are unhealthy and unwanted. I know that they are there and while you’re right, they may not be a big deal to my kids they become that way as time goes on.

      But, all that to say, you encouraged me and reminded me that most of what I worry about is a non-issue to my children. And for reminding me that worry is a trap from the enemy. Those words really struck me. I don’t think I’ve ever really experienced freedom and joy in mothering. I have at times–certain moments, but not as a whole. I’ll be seeking the Lord in this, so thank you.

      1. Seeing our flaws manifest in our children is startling… but I think if we let Him, God uses that as part of redemption. Not ultimate redemption from sin, but as part of the daily refining process. When we see our children repeat our poor patterns and sins, it’s a real wake-up call. “Crud. I need to deal with this right now. No avoiding it any longer. Must prioritize.” And then, YOU DO. So, it’s not like I’m saying I’m a flawless mother so my kids see no error. I’m saying that God our Father, who graciously and for everyone’s good does not allow us to contentedly STAY in sin, is allowing you to see it now, and if you’ll let Him (which I’m confident that you DO), He will use that to be a step in the process of redemption and refining and perfecting.

        So rather than being afraid of seeing ypur sins being reproduced in your children, tell yourself, “Good. God is letting me se this so I will know He wants me to work on this now, before that sin flowers and produces rotten fruit in both my daughter AND me.”

        Does that make sense? That way, it is still part of the “freedom and joy” process in you, and no longer an opportunity for the enemy to keep you under his thumb.

  2. Nicole – I appreciate your honesty in this post and as a mom of three myself, I can completely understand where you’re coming from :)
    Growing up, my parents were great about not only sharing their love of Jesus and His church with us, but also modeling it. My parents volunteered and took us with them; they opened our home to Life Groups, for meetings and parties and taught us the importance of loving people. I want to do the same for my kids. They see me read my bible, lift my hands during worship – we pray together as a family and volunteer together. My hope is they’ll grow up having a love, respect and appreciation for the Lord, for the church and for all people.
    But I wonder… do they know how much I believe in them? Do I tell them enough how amazing I think they are? Am I doing all the right things to prepare them for the life they’re going to experience? The heartbreak, the struggles… I pray they don’t become hardhearted but instead, find the good in every situation.
    I pray I’m preparing them, the best I possibly can, to live a great life.

  3. I’m not a mother yet but as much as I hope for children in the future I do also wonder whether I’d be any good at it or whether I’d do more damage than good. Its a big scary responsibility and I really admire your honesty! I also think that parents are human and make mistakes, no-one’s perfect. And its quite probable that when your kids are teenagers they will tell you that you’re a terrible parent and they wish that you had done things differently – I know I was pretty hard on my own poor parents! But please take anything a teenager says about your parenting with a huge pinch of salt! ;) I can see now that my parents weren’t perfect but they did a really great job with us (4 kids over the space of 16yrs).

    1. My parents were/are really good at telling us that they love us & giving us affection. The thing that I can see now but couldn’t as a teenager is that they have always been there for us and never gave up on us through any of our troubles – rebellion, drugs, travel, illness, even when I told them what horrible parents they were! ;) And even at 30yrs old my parents are still there for me. They have made it clear that they are our parents for life not just for 18yrs! They were also good at teaching us about God and showing us that a relationship with God permeates into every part of your life. We saw them pray for everything from nightmares to nerves before a piano recital, setting out on a car journey to serious illness. They would pray with us but we would also hear them praying alone or together in their bedroom and knew it was important.

    2. They were not so good at encouragement and praise, which is definitely at least partly because of their own personalities and upbringings. Maybe they thought it would make us prideful? Whatever the reason words of affirmation have never come naturally to them, which was difficult for some of us who needed to hear it. They will also admit that they were far too strict with their first child (me!) but over their years of parenting they learnt to ease up and allow the subsequent children more freedoms.

  4. I’m new at this whole mom thing, my son is only one. I keep questioning whether I’m doing a good job being his mom, and sometimes I even question whether it’s valuable for me to stay home with him when all I do is chase him around the house, feed him, change him, cook, clean, take things away that he shouldn’t be eating, etc. But God has really put it on my heart that the way to love people well, and kids well, is to lay down your life for them. (John 15:13) So, when you spend your time caring for your kids, homeschooling then, disciplining them, teaching them about the Lord, giving up your time and energy and very self for them, you are showing them the greatest, most Christ-like love. Looking back, I can see that my parents showed me that love, and not only did I benefit from it then, but still do as I understand Christ’s love more deeply!

    A practical question for you: how and when do you make time to write in the midst being a homeschooling mom of 3? I’m new at blogging, and it’s hard to find times when I can focus on anything that requires a lot of thinking. Any advice?

  5. Nicole, I’m sure you’re doing a very good job, and good for Jonathan to encourage you as he does (though I wouldn’t expect anything less from all we’ve heard about him). I’m not a parent so don’t have much to say, but one thing I have noticed in middle-age, with my elderly mother, is a tendency to “talk at” more than “talk to” a lot of times. Especially with middle-aged kids (I have an older brother who is edging up on 60 in a couple of years), this really doesn’t work. If anything, it will close down communication.

    P.S. Grinning at Riley’s expression in photo #1.

  6. I think every mom must feel that way some of the time. As a brand new mom of an eight week old little boy, I often wonder if I’m doing this right and if my boy will grow into the strong, gentle, passionate, and Godly man I imagine and hope he will be. Or if I’ll do something along the way that will mess him up or mess our relationship up. Even though his needs are demanding, they are so simple right now, and even so, it’s still hard not to wonder if I’m doing a good job or not. For me, it. comes down to trusting that God has a plan for my son. He loves Him more than I can possibly imagine. God has blessed me beyond measure to be this little boy’s mom but He is sovereign over my son’s life, not me. (That’s pretty relieving if you ask me!)

    As for things my parents did well or not so well… I wish I had had more structure and discipline as a teenager. That was mostly the product of not having a dad around and pushing him out when he was there. My mom had so much grace with me though. I think about how much I fought her on everything as a teenager and I am so thankful for her grace towards my rebellious and hurtful words. I think it’s the reason we have such an amazing friendship now. She never held anything I did over my head. She just tried to discipline me and always forgave me.

  7. What I love about this post is not only the honesty, but the obvious way you deal with the insecurity: you take it to the cross!!!!! I also love that you went first to admit the pain of just knowing you will end up making mistakes, you have freed others to admit it. Secret? We ALL feel inadequate to properly parent if we are honest. And those who are completely secure aren’t thinking about it!! God uses parenting to humble us so we have to depend on Him!!! I’m not going to tell you what a fabulous job you are doing (even though you are), I am going to tell you that the sincerity of your faith will get you through these years, and then they will rise up and call you blessed!!

  8. Nicole,

    Thanks for this post. I always appreciate your honesty & openness. My mom & dad always genuinely showed that they cared about me. I never doubted their love or concern for me. I can’t think of anything specific that they did, I just knew this love was in them for me. On a negative note, they tried to control me with religion. My dad was a devout Muslim, and performance for God’s approval was a culture in my home. This translated to everything in life. I had to ‘perform’ for my dad’s approval, and I never seemed to ‘perform’ quite good enough. As a kid, I was always aware of that.

    I have one biological daughter. She is twenty now. When she was growing up, I was a Pastor in the evangelical religious system. Although I did not see this at the time, I ended up passing on to her what my own dad passed on to me. I communicated with my lifestyle that God could be please through our ‘performance’. Religion is religion no matter what label you put on it. It is destructive. Although I see the error of my ways now, I’m not so sure my daughter understands just yet. I know the story is not over, however. Being like my dad was a fear of mine as a parent, and this is exactly what happened. Again, the story is not over, so I know the Lord will redeem everything.

    With that said Nicole, I would like to say that I am pretty confident that you are, and will continue to be, a great mother. This is not because of what you do, but because of who you are. You are a free woman. Christ has made you free. Your children will eventually see the bright and freeing light of Christ in you. His light in you will eventually drown out the darkness that they temporarly may see in your flesh. There is no darkness in existence that will be able to extinguish His light forever. His light eventually floods everything.

  9. My dad was good at defusing a tense situation with humor and encouraging me to be my best without being overbearing. He had high expectations for me. My mom was a great listener and gave me great advice about friends and clothes. Neither of them were very good at really teaching about the REALLY important life skills like cooking, rules of engagement for dating, what to look for in a future husband, and how to handle money. They also were “snipers” and yellers, which has infiltrated my personality.

    I am currently trying to find the line between showing grace to my kids and making them understand that choices have consequences so that they don’t grow up to be drug dealers/con artists/murders/liars/permanently-unemployed-living-at-home adults-asking-me-to-raise-their-out-of-wedlock-children. The solution I have found is waiting to seek God’s judgement when I am calm, cool and collected. When I can remember it, beautiful things happen. When it doesn’t, I usually sit down with whatever child/children I have offended, confess my wrong behavior to them and ask forgiveness. The sweetest moments have come from when my kids come without me talking to them and confess their “sin” to me.

    I homeschool, too, and we have wonderful days and horrible days. I remember the year I had a 2nd grader, Kindergartener, toddler and newborn, I was such a horrible teacher that I told God that I would totally understand if He wanted to fire me. I think we had multiple times a week where we would all be crying over something involving school. God didn’t deny my problems, but showed me a better way to homeschool and told me to relax and have fun with the kids. The best advice I received from homeschooling moms was when I moved to Arizona: a panel was asked how they managed to avoid educational gaps and one of the moms basically said “There WILL be education gaps. There are educational gaps in public school. Don’t worry about it because if it is important, God will fill in the gaps and teach your child how to pursue knowledge on their own.” At the time, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders. Another quote I hold onto deals with education vs. discipleship of children. The speaker pointed out that discipleship was much more important than education because “No ever got a divorce because they were lousy at math.” Those are the two nuggets of golden wisdom that I can offer you to help your early years of homeschooling. God bless!

  10. 1. My parents were really good at balancing their parenting duties. Both had full time careers (farmer/feed mill operator and teacher.) They shared cooking, cleaning and childrearing duties very evenly. (My Dad even put my hair in pigtails every day when I was in 3rd grade!!) It was a marvelous example of teamwork in marriage.

    They were also good at treating each of their four children as individuals. For me that meant distracting me from my homework and forcing me to not take myself so seriously, whereas my Dad taught himself highschool math (something he had failed in highschool) so he could help my younger sister with her homework. Sometimes we would complain and say it wasn’t fair that they treated us differently but they would always tell us that “life isn’t fair,” and that each of us were different so they wouldn’t treat us all the same.

    My Mom is a prayer warrior – cause she had to be to keep the peace between her brood of barbarians. The longer we stormed and yelled and screamed at each other the longer she would lead us in quiet prayer after things settled down. And when we were being particularly nasty to each other she would force us to sit down and compliment each other.

    The most important thing is that we always felt loved and we always knew our parents loved each other.

    2. When I was a teenager I would have been able to give you a long list of everything my parents “did wrong.” However now as an adult I am starting to see the wisdom behind their actions. They would probably laugh at the term “wisdom” because I am pretty sure most of the time they were just winging it. I distinctly remember my Dad going out and standing in the middle of the backyard when us children were screaming and fighting. He would throw up his arms in surrender because he didn’t want the neighbours to think he was abusing us. My parents probably have faults, but from my perspective they are superheroes!!

  11. Totally understand! And honey, the first year of homeschooling is the worst. It will get better! Google unschooling. You may not go radical, but take it from someone who has been homeschooling for over 20 years, kids are very capable of learning what they need to know!

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