“I don’t need you to envy me, I just need you to be proud of me.”
These words poured onto the screen as I typed them to my mom. At forty-something, I felt like a little girl again, my life-long quest of seeking the words, “I’m proud of you.”
I was ashamed at my feelings, but I realized how much insecurity has played a role in how I parent.
- Insecurity that if I don’t raise my children “right,” they will turn out “wrong” and I will be labeled a “bad parent.”
- Insecurity that if I don’t get my kids involved in every sport or activity at the earliest age, they will fall behind, and my personal insecurities won’t be padded by their successes.
- Insecurity that if I don’t look a certain way, I won’t be accepted by other moms.
- Insecurity that leads to pride when my children succeed, because I’m the one who made them that way.
- Insecurity that leaves me clinging to my rights as a mom because if I let go, I can’t guarantee the results.
- Insecurity that draws me to hover over my child even though they need independence because when they depend on me, I feel loved.
- Insecurity that allows anger to rise up when my child embarrasses me because their actions define my worth.
My list could go on. I began parenting as a young twenty-three year old overcoming identity issues and insecurities from a long-term eating disorder. Being a mom became my first identity as a woman and I knew just the kind of mom I wanted to be. Motherhood was going to fill all the gaping holes in my heart. But as motherhood became my identity, the challenges it brought left me fighting against myself and the child who was supposed to fulfill my hopes and dreams.
As I’ve walked through two decades of parenting, every fiber of my being has been challenged in the process. Every notion of what I imagined parenting to be has shaken me because my identity as a woman wasn’t grounded in being a child of God, but in my own children. After walking in difficult places as a mom, I’ve humbly learned my children don’t define me. They don’t add to or take away from my worth as a woman. Being a mom doesn’t fill my insecurities. I’ve found worth in being the woman I was created to be.
As a parent, where do your insecurities lie? Are you looking to your children or your successes as a mom to fill the voids in your heart? While it feels good to have compliments on your child’s character, behavior or performance, if your confidence lies only in parenting, you’ll be devastated when others judge you because of your child’s character, behavior, or performance.
Believe me, it will happen. Been there, done that.
Our family has walked through dark times. As a young mom, the dark times were even more devastating because the expectations I had for myself and my family formed my identity. What happens when those expectations are shattered? You stand alone with broken pieces.
In rebuilding our family from the difficult years, I’ve learned that parenting is about loving your children through the mountains, valleys, and everywhere in between. It’s about believing in them when they don’t believe in themselves. It’s about showing grace and mercy when kids least deserve it, while holding them accountable for the choices they make. It’s about being a whole, healthy person first so you can be the best parent to your child. It’s about dealing with your own insecurities so your child can be strong.
Parenting is hard work. But at the end of the day, when I know I’ve done the best I know how, I can say in my spirit, “I’m proud of you.”
It’s my hope you are able to say that, too.