Motherhood in perspective

When something goes wrong for Hayden, he sometimes has a tendency to overreact. I take away his current play thing, he screams. The ribbon from his balloon gets caught in his toes, he squeals and kicks. We try to see if he has any new molars, he arches his back, struggles and wails.

I’ve called him a bit of a drama “king” before. But really, I don’t expect anything different from someone who has no outlets or resources to draw upon when he’s frustrated. I also don’t expect anything different from a child of mine. I’m hardly any better than Hayden at handling my frustrations, despite decades of knowing better.

I’m trying to help Hayden learn other ways to deal with his frustration, even though they can’t really help him right now (things like, “You don’t have to scream, you can ask for help.”).

But really, both of our frustrations come from the same problem. It’s a larger problem than simple impatience. For me, it’s as if I develop tunnel vision. I can’t think of anything else in the world other than this insignificant thing. I always say, “I just expect things to work right.” And it’s true, I get frustrated when something doesn’t work as expected.

But really, my problem is that, for those moments at least, I lack perspective. Hayden isn’t old enough or experienced enough to see the big picture, but I should at least be developing that ability.

Perspective is often difficult to obtain. Sometimes one of the most difficult things to put into perspective is the big picture. For example, I know that in the big picture, I’m a mother. But what does being a mother mean?

The perspective that we’re given today says that motherhood doesn’t mean a ton. Darren Rowse at ProBlogger wrote an equation this week that struck me:

Personal Worth = What You Achieve + What Others Think of You

He was speaking in the context of blogging, of course, but acknowledged that his thoughts applied to other spheres. He continues:

The problem with this equation is that in every sphere of life (especially blogging) it is very difficult to live up to this equation. There are times in all of our lives where we fail or fall short of what we set out to achieve and where other people’s opinion of us are not high.

Rating our worth as a person in this way can be a trap and as bloggers it can be an easy one to fall into.

On a good day where traffic is up, people are saying nice things, all the blog ranking tools rate us highly and we’re getting good press it’s easy to be on top of the world – but when it all falls in a heap the lows can be very low if we tie our personal worth to how our blog performs.

Personal worth comes from something deeper than what you do (or fail to do) and what others think of you. I won’t push my own opinions of where this worth comes from (for me it’s tied to my spirituality) – however I encourage bloggers to do some realigning and gaining of perspective in this area.

Fulfillment, which today I’ll define as contentment with your assessment of your personal worth, doesn’t come from external factors. If we continually rely on others to give us fulfillment, we’ll find ourselves emptier than before.

Like Darren, my personal worth, my contentment with my role as a mother, comes from my spirituality (I’ve expounded on those beliefs recently). For me, my spirituality is one way of internalizing the big picture.

The big picture is that mothers matter. The big picture is that the greatest impact my life will create will probably not be the great American novel, even if I do write that novel. The big picture is that the most important thing that I can do with my life is to raise my son to be a good person.

I still struggle with the day to day frustrations, but keeping motherhood in perspective keeps me grounded. It helps me to recognize my personal worth. It doesn’t come from awards or professional achievements. It comes from recognizing the importance of tiny triumphs.

And for Hayden�and for me�a day without frustration would be a triumph indeed.

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