(I love this painting by Brian Kershisnik, as seen in the LDS Conference Center. When being a mom is hard, it speaks peace to my soul.)
I could really stand to be a better mom. I’m not saying I’m horrible, and it’s my goal in life to be kinder to myself and focus on what I’m doing right. However, I’m in close enough touch with reality to admit I have room for improvement. Since journaling has been such a powerful tool for me, I’ve come up with 7 journal prompts to make me (and you) a better mom.
I won’t make this one of the prompts but start by listing each of your children with some room to write below each name. This may be difficult, depending on how many kids you have, but do your best.
1. List what you love about each of your children.
What makes them beautiful, interesting, fun, loveable? What are their strengths, talents, adorable weaknesses? When you say, I love Laylee because…, what comes at the end of that sentence?
2. What is each child’s greatest struggle?
Challenges will come and go, but in this moment, what is the most difficult thing each of your children needs to overcome? Understanding this will help you understand their needs and serve them in the ways that are most meaningful to each one individually.
3. How can you support each child through his or her struggle?
Being a better mom is not about completing more projects from Pinterest. The essence of motherhood is to love and support your children and help them become the best possible versions of themselves. Make a list of thing you can do to support each child with their current needs in mind.
4. What are your greatest strengths as a mom?
You have them. And, you are stronger than you know. Even if you’re living slightly below your abilities, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. By recognizing them, you can more easily draw on them the next time you need to. What aspects of parenting do you or could you excel at?
5. In what ways do you already serve your children?
List the last ten things you did to support, love, or care for your children? Chances are you won’t have to look back very far to see these. Did you feed them? Clothe them? Give them a hug? Tell them you loved them? Sign a field-trip form? Offer advice?
It’s 10:35am as I type this and so far today I cut some apples to go with their breakfast cereal, told them I loved them, drove them to the bus because it was raining, let the youngest sleep in because daylight savings time is killing her, fixed a ponytail, cleared a dish, read school newsletters and added dates to my calendar, went over the schedule with them, gave a sincere compliment, and texted with my teenager.
6. What do you hope your children will say about you when they are adults?
I spend a lot of time talking about my parents, how much they loved us, how well they provided for us, what a great sense of humor my mom had, how my dad taught me to be self-sufficient. What are the 5 most important things you want your children to remember about you?
7. Based on the prompts above, what is one thing you can do today to improve your mothering?
One thing you can do today. You can’t change your kids. You can change you in small ways every day. Limit yourself to one thing you can and will change today to be a better mom.
Evidence exists all around that you are already a good mom. Look for evidence on your calendar, on your phone camera, on your Facebook wall, and in your kids’ faces. It’s there.
Journaling is my schtick. I believe there is so much you can improve in your life when you’re willing to be honest about where you are, ponder where you want to be, and capture those thoughts and feelings on paper. I hope this little exercise helps you feel better about where you are and hopeful that you can get where you want to be, one tiny step at a time.