published Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

Baumgardner: Moms should see themselves through their kids' eyes

By Julie Baumgardner

A recent video circulating on Facebook asked moms to do one thing, "Describe yourself as a mom." Among their descriptions:

"Perfectionist"

"I struggle with my temper."

"I wish I was more confident about being a mom."

"There are days when I have my doubts about my abilities."

"I wish I was better at just taking the time to sit down and listen to my child."

"I want them to know how much I love them."

A few days later, the moms were invited back to hear their children describe them on video. One child after the other shared many positive qualities about their mom. From "My mom is totally awesome," and "She is like my heart" to "My mom is my hero," "My favorite thing is to jump on the trampoline with my mom," "She's pretty and funny" and "She's fun to snuggle with."

As the moms watched their children describe them, tears rolled down their cheeks. One mom said, "I always seem to focus mostly on the negative. I can walk out of here and say I am doing something great and my child sees me totally differently than I see myself."

Why is it when they were asked to describe themselves, they automatically went to the negative?

Women with grown children were asked to watch the video and answer this question: "Looking back, what would you tell your young mom self?"

"I have always been my worst critic," said Candy Guyselman. "Speaking to my younger self today, I would tell her to take time to see the world through the eyes of her children, the wonder and awe of each new discovery. Let things that seem important, like cleaning the house, take the back burner while catching tadpoles with the boys or reading a book with them under the tree. Each memory made is far more important than things that seemed so urgent but really were not."

Michele Hunter said, "It took me so long to realize I needed to begin each day with the end in mind. What matters most to me is creating an environment that will allow my kids to become healthy, responsible adults who value family. Through that lens, there were so many things causing friction that just didn't matter. Enjoy all the magic, the wonder and the fun that can be found in the simple moments in life."

And Kim Martin said, "I would encourage myself to do the best you can where you are. We are not super moms, we are human. Think about how you spend your time. Will they remember you as the mom who is so busy she doesn't have time for them?"

Carolyn Majestic had a simple suggestion for her young mom self -- "Lighten up."

"Being a mom is the most serious job and the most important job you'll ever have, but learn to laugh with your kids. Laugh often and laugh readily! The terrible twos don't last, and the teen years are over so fast ... then they're gone!! We get so busy trying to protect them and keep them safe, we forget that some parts of life will just go the way life goes, no matter what we do or say. I would want to tell every mom: You can never love them too much!!"

Julie Baumgardner is president and CEO of First Things First. Contact her at julieb@firstthings.org.

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