When I was a teacher, my success was measured every day. I could chart my students’ progress and had formal assessments to verify my findings at least three times per year. Even though it was stressful to always be putting a number on my teaching, I had few doubts as to my successes or failures with my methodology and practices.
Motherhood has no such outcome chart. I flail wildly through the days, hoping that somehow these two girls turn out okay. We do things I think will be beneficial to creating productive members of society: Reading books, going to museums, waiting in line, learning to entertain ourselves. But who knows? All this effort could result in success or possibly a huge disaster.
Ultimately, I have to do stuff and then open up my hands and let them go. I have to trust that the hours of attention to table manners and cleaning up will translate when Bea is at school or at a friend’s house. I have to hope that stopping to correct or affirm behaviors will somehow make them stick.
As a maximizer, I thrive on that measured success: I need to know areas of improvement or areas that I can continue to build a strength. I want to take something from good to awesome.
At work, I always looked forward to principal evaluations. Even at the museum, when my boss observes me, I like debriefing afterwards and talking about areas for improvement. Sometimes I wish someone could observe my mothering and give me a measured plan for further improvement. The problem is that, what are we basing our findings on? How can we accurately measure the success of craft time or quiet rest time?
That’s where faith and trust and community come into important play. It’s not that I compare my mothering to my friends but that there’s a spirit of camaraderie in this season. The power of me too! is especially important right now, when I wonder if I’m going crazy.
Maybe I’ll never be able to measure the success of my mothering. When would that happen? At 18? 25? 42? Even though it goes against my personality, this immeasurable success has rounded out the sometimes-harsh edges of always looking for the best. I’m learning, not necessarily to settle for mediocre, but to live life a bit more openly, and a bit more trustfully.
How do you measure your success as a parent? How do you respond to observations and constructive criticism?
This post is Day 8 of the Write 31 Day Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the StrengthsFinder test. You can find the entire series over at Live Your Strengths page.