I have always been one of those people that is referred to as an "over-achiever". Sometimes this term is used with admiration, but more often than not it is used to describe a flaw. I am hard on myself, and I tend to be hard on others as well. I have spent my whole adult life trying to learn how to deal with this part of my character, but it has never been harder than it is right now.
Since becoming a mother, I have done a lot of self-examination. I look at myself now as not just my own person, but also a role model for my son. Not only a role model, though. I can surround my little guy with great role models, but Matt and I are so much more than that. We are the two people who have the greatest impact on this little life. We are responsible for every part this amazing little boy, and the weight of that reality is huge.
So much of my over-achiever personality comes from my own childhood. I grew up in a big family, and as the oldest, I held a lot of responsibility. I felt like I had to work twice as hard to even be noticed. I spent so much of my time trying to be the best in everything, searching for the one thing that would earn me the approval I had been searching for. Of course I never really found it, because that is just not the way these things work. I did, however, become deeply entrenched in a life of striving for more and never feeling good enough.
When I look at all of this now, I am desperate to make sure that my own child doesn't feel the same way. I don't want him to ever feel like he is not good enough. I don't want him to feel like he has to prove his worth to us. So, I find myself in this place where I am trying to find balance in my parenting. Do I want him to grow up successful? Absolutely. Do I want him to always try his best? You bet. I just don't want him to equate achievements with self-worth, or feel like he needs to earn our love.
This struggle has already begun for me, even during these toddler years. I constantly find myself comparing my son with his cousins. I worry about his development, I wonder if I should be doing more, I stress about silly things like the fact that he won't tell me that the cow says "moo". In fact as I write this I am fighting the urge to list the words he does say, just so he doesn't appear to be behind. I know that all children are different, but I haven't found a way to break that cycle of needing to be the best. Considering the fact that my job right now is to stay home and raise my son, being the "best" has become even more of a slippery slope. I read a really excellent blog post a while back called My Child is Not a Trophy that touched on this. I try so hard to keep myself from pressuring A, but I haven't found a way to stop pressuring myself.
Unfortunately, this is not going to be one of those posts where I share some great insight or lesson I have learned. All I have to share at this point is my struggle. It is something I am praying about, something I am working on, something that is frequently on my mind... it just isn't something I have figured out. I have found a certain amount of strength within myself, though. This parenting gig is definitely a tough one, but it also amazes me how much I have grown as a person just since becoming a mother. I am so unbelievable blessed, and I realize that every single day. It really has changed how I live, and how I think. I know I have a long way to go, but I am excited to be making progress.
So, I guess I would call this post a to be continued...
Afterword: So, I didn't publish this post this morning like I had intended to, and then during my quiet time I found something that really spoke to me along these lines. The chapter I was reading in the Max Lucado book In the Grip of Grace was talking about how God's grace is sufficient. Specifically, it was talking about instances when God's answer to our prayers is "No" or "Wait"... this paragraph really spoke to me today:
You wonder why God doesn't alter your personality? You, like Paul, are a bit rough around the edges? Say things you later regret, or do things you later question? Why doesn't God make you more like Him? He is. He's just not finished yet. Until He is, His grace is sufficient to overcome your flaws.Praising God today for sufficient grace, and gentle reminders :)
Linking up with: MeetUp Monday