5 Mothering Should I’s

Alexandra Kuykendall essentials

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I’m an only child. By all birth order analysis, this translates to an uber-responsible, take little risk, perfectionist-driven person. So when motherhood arrived on my doorstep (or rather in my belly) I wanted to do things the “right” way. I had some preconceived ideas about what that meant. And as I adopted them, I found the assumptions I held about what was best were often just plain wrong. I let them go, sometimes easily and sometimes with a little more heartache. But now without question I’m so glad I did. I’m over them. They are retired. No longer allowed to rattle around in my head.

Here are 5 shoulds I no longer hold to be true:

Mothers should …

… always enjoy their children.

I always love my children and always will, but sometimes they get on my last nerve. From the first time the crying baby made me want to cover my ears with the pillow, I realized I will sometimes feel like running away instead of running toward them. Why did I expect that other imperfect humans wouldn’t bug me once in a while? Totally faulty thinking there. I now know it is OK to give myself some space when we are rubbing each other the wrong way.

… stay at home full-time.

I am so over this as an issue, but I have to mention it because it’s a big one. I’ve changed my mind and my work schedule multiple times in my mothering career about what is best for me and my family as far as my professional career. I hate to admit it, but I entered motherhood thinking there was a “right” way on this. I now have experienced every mother’s circumstances, talents, needs, desires are different. And we’re allowed to change our minds from what we decided yesterday or last year. And that’s OK.

… never lose their tempers.

I’m not saying I should lash out at those around me (though I admit I’m a regular yeller). However, I think there is such a thing as justified anger. It is good for my kids to see there are consequences to their actions. When they are disobedient or disrespectful other people will get angry, including their mother. Modeling healthy anger management is modeling what it means to be a mature, normal adult.

… keep a clean house.

I must have been living in some kind of la-la land to have had any notion that becoming a mom would suddenly reverse the 27 previous years of my unorganized, messy home. But a girl can always hope I guess. After numerous “discussions” with my husband and feeling like a repeated failure in all things domestic, I worked my frugal budget to include outside help in this area. Because the truth is my people are happier when there’s a little less physical chaos. There’s no shame in saying “I need a little help here” and figuring out how to make it happen. Besides dirt builds kids’ immune systems, right?

… see motherhood as their highest calling.

I already mentioned I love my children. Very much. And I love my husband with renewed passion after 17 years of marriage. I love my work outside the home and through my church. But I am a woman first. My identity and worth are wrapped up in something greater. I will do my best to raise the children entrusted to me, but I will not confuse my mothering with my ultimate value.

Letting go of these shoulds has felt like a much needed deep breath. I feel a new freedom to live into who I truly am and not what I thought I was supposed to be. And I can enjoy my friends and their different choices with more abandon since I’m not living off of a “right way” to-do list.

Here’s to giving ourselves freedom to embrace our unique lives and the unique ways we’ve been equipped live them out.


Alexandra Kuykendall
As a mom to four girls, ages 3 to 12, Alexandra Kuykendall’s days are spent washing dishes, driving to and from different schools and trying to find a better solution to the laundry dilemma. She writes to capture the places where motherhood meets everyday life to remember the small, yet significant moments in the midst of the blur. She is the author of The Artist’s Daughter, A Memoir , a contributor to this year’s Be you, Bravely, An Experiment in Courage and acts as the Specialty Content Editor for MOPS International. A city girl at heart, she makes her home in the shadow of downtown Denver. You can read more of Alex’s everyday thoughts and connect with her at AlexandraKuykendall.com.

What is a mothering should you want to let go?