Updated: Feb 17, 2020
Laura We're joined by Wendy Mains. Wendy has been married for 30 years, is a mother of two daughters and is now a grandmother. Today, we discuss guilt and shame in motherhood, parenting from a place of love, and how her faith has impacted her parenting over the years. Thanks so much for tuning in. I hope you guys enjoy.
Wendy Mentoring moms has been something that I've enjoyed doing for a long time. When my girls were teenagers, I was a mentor mom at MOPS. And it was good for me to recognize that I had something to give back because so much of being a mom is thankless. My kids when they went to college, really recognized that I actually had value and I had done things for them.
Laura Talk to me about when you were raising your girls? Your experience as a mother? What you would. What you wish you could have gone back and perhaps done differently or just something that you wish you had learned sooner.
Wendy So I was older when I had my girl. So I was 33 when I had Catherine and I was almost thirty six and Olivia. So I didn't get married till I was 30. I had always wanted to be a mom and I always thought I wanted to be a stay at home mom. That was what I wanted to do. It was my dream until Catherine was born. She was I don't know, six weeks old. And I was like, I can't do this. I can't. I can't do this. I can't just.
Wendy I had quit my job. I was the primary breadwinner. When we had Katherine I was self-employed so it was a huge shift, not just having a baby, but financially. It was a huge shift. I ended up hiring a woman that I found in a in a magazine back in the day, I was looking for a surrogate grandmother. So she came a couple days a week on those days I would work in Wayne's office. Then the rest of it, I would do things like go run errands or just go go out, do something. That made me a better mom.
Wendy For a long time I felt very inadequate in that because I wanted to be a stay at home mom all my life as long as I could remember. And then I felt like I had kind of failed at that. And at the same time, Katherine was incredibly collicy. And so I stopped nursing her after about six weeks. I felt like failed at that, too.
Wendy One of the things I really wish and I try to tell moms now is it doesn't mean you failed. You have to figure out what works for you and your family. It doesn't matter what you read in a book or on a blog or you hear in a podcast, you're gonna get a ton of unsolicited advice and you have to wade through it and figure out what works. And what works with one child definitely didn't work with the second child. I figured a lot of it out. I think it helped that my husband was a very active dad. He always did bedtime and bath time. The girls that gave me downtime when they got to be when when Olivia, the younger one got to be toddlers, he would take them every Saturday morning to McDonald's and they would play in the play bass. And I did sleep in. That helped a lot. I had friends that didn't really trust their husbands to do it right. I think you have to allow them that. I mean, McDonald probably not the nourishing place you want your kids to go necessarily, but once a week is not going to kill them. The girls are now twenty-five and twenty-eight now and he has a relationship with them that started when they were little when they were babies and he would do bathtime and bedtime.
Wendy When I look back one of my one of my regrets is personally to have cut myself more slack. And that's what I tell new moms and and just young moms that are younger than me is. You have to cut yourself slack and you have to do that their whole lives. You know, when they're when they're. I had a friend that said once that your children's behavior is not a reflection on you. It's their behavior. And so when your teenagers are acting up or making stupid choices and you don't understand what they've chosen to do or whatever. It's not a reflection on you. And that's hard.
Wendy The second thing was that I was a pretty bad teenager. I did pretty much everything you could do that you shouldn't do. And so I was really afraid. I was really afraid of my girls growing up and following in my footsteps. And she said to me, you can't parent from fear.
Wendy It was really when my kids got to middle school that I realized that I wish I had been a little bit less worried about what other people were going to think about their behavior when they were younger,and about what they looked like. I became a Christian when Katherine was almost five, four and a half and Olivia was almost two. And I kind of went off the charts in terms of like I banned things from the house. And I thought that if I send them to Christian school and protected them from the world and that that world would not affect them, and that's not true. You know, don't get me wrong. They're great adults. I feel very I think my job was to raise the adults who are contributing to the world and not hurting people and and loving and caring and who still want to come home and see me. And I had done that. I can look back and all the other stuff doesn't really matter.
Wendy I think I learned that part of it was having a child who was so artistic who from a very young age saw herself as her her art palette, if you will. So I let her pick out her clothes. She looks back on some pictures and she's like, why did you let me wear that? And I'm like, hey, you wanted to wear it. So I'll let you wear it. I think that that was valuable for her to know that she had options.
Laura I can definitely relate to that because I expressed myself in very interesting ways for a long time. You know, figure out just figuring out like, is this me? What do I like? Who is me?
Wendy You know, you got to figure out where you fit in, how you fit and how you can be your own self. Yeah, I think I think that's another. You know, that's part of that is letting your kids do what as long as they're not hurting themselves or injuring themselves.
Laura We have this expectation in our mind of how we should be a mom and what that looks like. And when it doesn't align with the reality of it, you either. You can feel guilty or shameful, and that's so unfortunate because being a mom is difficult. Like you don't want to make it more difficult on yourself.
Wendy I think, too, that Christian women were worse like there is this expectation that your children would be well behaved, that they would never make a mistake, that they would never stray away from the path that the Bible says it's supposed to be on. And so that goes back to the thing about not being responsible for their behavior, because we're still all human. But because I kind of went on this legalistic deep end. It was even harder for me when they would not do what they were supposed to do.
Wendy I will never forget one time we were at church and we'd had a huge fight that morning. And I had yelled at one of my kids and I was sitting in church and we were singing a song during worship and I had to get up and go and apologize to her. As a parent, being willing to apologize to your children and to having them see you apologized to other people's you own your own stuff, too. You set that example. But I think you have to be willing to as a parent to say I screwed up, you know, I made a mistake. And that starts from the time that they're old enough to understand that kids need to know that you're fallible. Building that knowledge and understanding and them. It's OK to make mistakes and it's OK to be wrong. You just learn from it and you continue forward. That's a super valuable lesson.
Wendy I don't think that our society is necessarily placing as much value on that as they might have a while ago. You can learn from your children. And again, it goes back to allowing your kids to live their lives. They're going to live them. I know people that don't have relationships with their children because they've chosen to say, well, you didn't do this or that or the other thing. And therefore, I'm I'm not going to hang out with you anymore.
Wendy My sister and I joke about back now that we're adults. We've we had a conversation probably 20 years ago about growing up. And we realized that although we grew up in the same home and we we have the same mother and father and we're only two years apart. So it's not like we're 10 years apart, basically had completely different childhoods. I think that's how kids are part of it is that's how they're wired. I'm much more task oriented and she's much more emotionally oriented she. Everything bothers her so she remembers more of the relational stuff. And I remember more of this things we did. So your kids are going to have those different perspectives.
Laura That makes me think of just a normal, everyday life. When you're walking down the street and you're thinking to yourself "are they looking at me a certain way?Are they thinking something about me?" But really, they're stuck in their own world thinking probably same thing that you're thinking of, "what are all these other people thinking about me?" You may think that you're having this specific impact on your kid, but it really comes down to how they are just absorbing their reality around. They may not even think twice about something.
Wendy And social media makes it look like everyone is just rocking this. No one ever has a bad day. Everyone on social media pretty much looks like they brush their teeth every day. There are days as a mom when you just don't get that done.
Laura Yeah, I think I went three days. I shower this morning. It was beautiful and glorious. But the reality is, it's 50/50 most of the time it's hard. And then the other half, it's like OK, I kind of got this and I'm making it happen.
Wendy When Katherine was a few months old she was just a tough kid. She was really it was just hard. It was way harder. I thought it was going to be. I dont know where Wayne was. But we'd had a really bad day. And she was a few months old. And I remember I distinctly remember putting her in her crib and walking away. I knew she was safe in there. And I just had to walk away. You have to be OK with knowing your limits. Being able to say I need to walk away or if your spouse is home, be able to say, "I need fifteen minutes, I need some, I need time out." Because little kids, babies are exhausting. And you're already tired. You're already. Feelno matter how hard you try, you do question all your decisions, you just gotta do what what work. Do its best for you and your child. What works with this child may not work with the next one.
Wendy The other thing that I think that all parents should do as soon as they can is make sure that if they you know, you probably have a friend or family member who can watch your child. You need to go out. You need to support your marriage. Moms need to realize that their kids are going to be OK if they're not with them all the time. And your marriage is if you don't have that. If unless you're a single parent, which totally wipes us out. But your marriage needs to be your number one priority, because in 18 years, those kids are gonna be gone. And then you're stuck with each other since you haven't worked on that during the time that you've been raising your kids. You might have a problem. That's why so many people break up at that time. You haven't nurtured their marriage.
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