Becoming a Better Mother: Pursue Excellence, Not Perfection

This is a guest post by Crystal of Intentional Homemaker

Fear of Failure. It’s something I wrestle with every day as a mom.

Let me share something with you that taught me a valuable lesson.  As I was first getting to know one of my good friends, I was certain she was a mom who had it all together. As a mom of two children less than one year apart, I had a lot of fear about being a mom and all that entailed.

My friend always spoke calmly, gently, and quietly, with the just right amount of firmness when correcting and disciplining.

She planned creative and fun activities and outings.

She was respectful and submissive to her husband.

She had a beautiful home that always seemed neat and tidy.

She attended Bible study and practiced hospitality.

As our friendship grew and developed, and we shared more of our lives with each other, it became very clear that NO MOM HAS IT ALL TOGETHER, appearances or not.

At that moment, I realized that I had fallen into the trap of measuring my success as a mom against other moms.

My amazing friend is a beautiful example to me of godly motherhood.  But, is she perfect?  No?  Am I a perfect mom?  No.

And, what’s more, we never can be.

Too many times I confuse pursuing excellence with striving for perfection. And, that causes trouble, not just for me, but also for my family, too.  Excellent is defined as “very good of its kind,” described by words like beautiful, fine, top-notch.  I didn’t find one place that defined being excellent as being perfect.  Perfect is defined as “being entirely without fault or defect.”  It’s unattainable, impossible to reach.

So how do I pursue excellence in motherhood without getting caught up in trying to achieve perfection?

1. Don’t Use Another Mom as the Standard for Mothering

I need to find my identity in Jesus Christ, not in the successes or failures of someone else.  While Jesus was perfect, and I never will be, I can pursue excellence by following His example.  Proverbs 31, Titus 2, and Ephesians 5 are just a few chapters directed toward women and their roles.

2. Do Find Another Mom as an Example, an Encourager, and an Empathizer

While I shouldn’t use other moms as my standard, I do need them.  It’s so helpful to surround myself with other moms who share my faith and views on parenting.  These women challenge me, hold me accountable, encourage me, and understand me.

3. Don’t Get Caught up in Feeling Guilty

So many times I get so discouraged because I feel so guilty about all that I’m not doing.  While I need to examine myself for issues like selfishness or laziness, I need to remember that my view of motherhood needs to correspond with God’s.  I need to do my best, but does that mean setting unrealistic expectations and goals? Does my house need to be spotless and my children fluent in six languages by age 5?  No.

4. Do Set Reasonable Goals

I have to remember that I am only one person.  I can’t “do it all.”  So, I have to set reasonable goals for myself as a mom.  That may mean sitting down with my husband every so often and talking about what we want for our family, perhaps coming up with a vision or mission statement based on Biblical truths.  These types of tools help me stay focused and avoid unnecessary guilt and impossible expectations.

5. Do Realize That I Am Not God

Ultimately, I cannot change our children’s hearts.  I cannot change my husband’s or anyone else’s heart.  Only God can do that, and that is between each person and God.  It is my responsibility as a mom to instruct our children in Biblical truth, follow Jesus’ example as closely as I can, and then trust God to do what He says in the lives of our children.

Stacy’s note: I really appreciate this honest post from Crystal. I know this is a constant battle for many of us. I’d love to hear what you have to say:

Do you struggle with reaching for perfection instead of pursing excellence? What helps keep you on track?

Crystal is married to Jarvis and is a stay-at-home mama to four young children. She blogs at Intentional Homemaker where she encourages moms to grow as godly women and to be conscious homemakers.

(Top image from morgue file)

Comments

  1. I love this post, very encouraging. I too have fallen into the comparison trap from time to time. I combat this tendency by really reflecting on God’s grace and trying to pour that out on my family.

    I tend to be a perfectionist, I grew up in a home filled with unattainable expectations and harsh criticisms. Its much more of a challenge to accept myself where i am at and look to God to grow me into the woman, wife and mom I am supposed to be.

    • Courtney, I truly appreciate your reminder to accept ourselves where we are and look to God to grow us. That is just perfect and so right! I think we need a post just on that!

      I also have perfectionist tendencies and find that makes life harder! It’s not as easy to be content… Looking to God and reflecting on His mercy and grace is the best way to combat these feelings… thanks so much for your encouragement in that direction.

  2. Leigh Ann @ Intentional By Grace says:

    What a refreshing post, and a wonderful reminder to boot. It is so easy to fall into the snare of compare, especially in the new digital age. Thank you for the reminder that we are all different and unique…and that is ok.

    • “The snare of compare. . .” I like that!

      I agree that the new digital age definitely makes it easier than ever to compare ourselves. We have to constantly work on our hearts and minds in this regard, don’t we? It’s a challenge at times!

      P.S. I just love your avatar picture. It’s so happy :)

  3. Thanks for making this post. I never really thought of it this way….I always strive to do everything….and never get it all done. Lately I have been trying to get a few things done, instead of getting lost in the big picture….take it piece by piece and my job has become a little easier, and less frustrating. The guilt has even eased up. The bible verse that has helped is:

    Phillippians 4:8-9 ” 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

    Putting these into practice has made it easier to be a mom.

    Or as my funny plaque on my wall says: “I am not Martha Stewart”. Martha is great, but if she didn’t have a big staff to do everything…just how much could she get done….and be so successful?

    We as Mom’s just have to be successful at the little chunks of time where we do the best we can….with the grace of God.

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, Vickie.

      I love the verse you shared. Especially the last part which encourages us to put his teachings into practice AND then the peace of God will be with us. I want that!

      You are so right about being successful in the little chucks of time. There are so many things we never get finished and it is easy to focus on what we don’t do. I think you are smart to look at things piece by piece. Perhaps you can see a lot more of the good that way. And also feel more at peace and more accomplished. . .with the grace of God :)

      Thanks again for your comment. It gave me a lot to ponder.

  4. This is such a hard thing to do! We want to do the best job possible for our kids, and it’s so easy to use others as our measuring stick! You are right though – we have to fight against it! There’s a lady in my church who is thin, well-dressed, successful in her career, kids are always put together, nice house – you name it. I have to really work at reminding myself that nobody has it TOGETHER. There’s always something that lacks. For all of us. :)

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