For many years I have looked at the strengths of other moms with admiration—often those super organized, Type-A moms, the ones who do more than I could dream of in a day. I would compare myself, and although I tried to remember that I was doing my best, I felt like I was falling short.
I am a very busy mom. I have a lot of kids by almost any standard. I do a lot because I have to keep the ship afloat. But what I am not is a “super mom.” Maybe she doesn’t really exist, but in this age of technology, you can easily piece together this mythical being. Sometimes I think we assume she really exists. Yet here I was with a full-sized, busy family, plugging away the best I could, full of what I perceived as weakness—and I was living with a lot of guilt because of it.
I am not good at routines, which can make life pretty messy (literally), and I don’t have a lot of energy, so I am not very organized because I am tired. There, I said it. I could go on with my list, but that is the gist of it.
Over time I have started to recognize that there are two sides to every story. It has come slowly, over years. I would think about something that I felt I was lacking in and find a silver lining. For example, one day I was thinking about a mom I admire who has as many children as me, but is much more organized than I am. She is very structured and has solid routines that keep life running smoothly.
I perceived someone’s strengths and compared them to my own weaknesses and felt like I was falling short. And then it came to me that I may not be good at structure and routine, but I am really great at being flexible and spontaneous, which has led to having a very adventurous, fun, and laid-back family style. We are the epitome of “the family who plays together, stays together.”
I may not be a great housekeeper, but because of that I have become very good at letting things go, not sweating the small stuff, and I am in no way an uptight mom. It lets me focus on my real priorities in life.
The other thing that I have struggled with for years is low energy. One Costco trip can wipe me out for the rest of the day. I wish I was the type of person who tackled a huge to-do list every day and went to bed exhausted and accomplished. My reality is that somewhere between 1:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon, I am spent, and my to-do list gets left for tomorrow. I am very active with my family, but I work around long periods of exhaustion.
I didn’t think there could possibly be a silver lining to this. But sure enough, one day as I was thinking about life, it came! Even this physical limitation has a plus side. Needing to slow down makes me still. When I am still, I am more aware of my children’s emotional needs. I am completely available for cuddles and hugs and talks and books. I am not too busy to notice my little people and am there for them in body and spirit. I am not so busy and distracted with life. My weakness feeds my strength as a nurturer. And now, I’m not sure I would want to lose that part of me.
It’s been amazingly freeing to have the epiphany that who I am is who I am. That, just maybe, I can embrace this person I was made to be and not be quite so caught up in trying to be someone else. If I didn’t have these weaknesses, I wouldn’t have these strengths. So maybe deep down, I wouldn’t change it even if I could. I can just be peaceful with what I have been dealt. I am okay, and I kind of love who I am now that I can see it more clearly.
Maybe you don’t struggle with the same things that I do. Maybe you are the opposite of me. But perhaps there is something about yourself that you wish you could change. Something you don’t like about the way you are. You think maybe it is a personality flaw, but think about what you would be losing about yourself if you could change it. There are two sides to every coin. Think about it, and just maybe you will decide that you are okay, just the way you are. Because who you are is pretty amazing.
QUESTION: What weakness or “personality flaw” are you constantly berating yourself to improve or change?
CHALLENGE: Take some time this week to think of ways that this perceived weakness could actually be something unique that really benefits you and your family.