I used to think I was running the show. That my happiness, success, and failure simply depended on me making a plan and working it. That it was all just a matter of self-discipline.
Then I had kids.
There’s nothing like children to help you stay humble. Once you experience divorce or loss of a spouse, a great deal of joy and personal satisfaction can get wrapped up in someone other than yourself—children who are amazing yet also very human and flawed. Tiny people who don’t necessarily share your desires at every point along the way. People who stretch you, exposing all the rough edges of your own heart, all the shortcomings that we’d been able to gloss over in other areas of life.
Being a mother is the greatest ego-check of our lives. But in those humbling moments, we can find comfort in knowing we are growing just as our children are. These are five ways motherhood has helped me stay humble and what I’ve learned while shedding some pride.
1. Bye-bye, flat stomach.
If you care a great deal about your appearance, kids give you a firm kick in the pants right out of the gate. Welcoming your new little person requires biological moms to gain some weight, some stretch marks, and endure unspeakable abuse to your abs. Some of us diet and exercise our way back to a great looking version of ourselves, but most of us bear a few birthing battle scars for the rest of our days.
2. Your kid may not be good at things you were really good at.
Maybe you were a dancer in high school. Skilled and competitive, you wowed people with your skills. The day you learned you were to have a little girl, you were buying tutus and toe shoes and counting the seconds until her first class. And then, she had two left feet. Zero coordination. Just…no. So now you have to bury your master plan to be the best at the thing you really love one more time through your kid. Oh, well. Change your tactic by accepting your child as she is.
3. Kids: the #1 source of brutally honest feedback.
One of the most refreshing yet humbling things about kids is that they haven’t yet developed a filter. They just give you honest reviews of your cooking (I once got “tastes like a dead cat.”), your appearance (“Why is your stomach so mushy?”), and every other facet of your daily life. Sure, they can and should be coached toward greater tact and sensitivity. But, on the way, you’re going to get an earful. Thick skin is advised.
4. Your kid may not care about the things you care about.
Whether it’s politics, your alma mater’s football team, or spending time on the family boat, your kid may reject the narrative that you constructed for your own life and wanted your family to adopt. When it’s over something negotiable—no matter how dear—like a hobby, you learn to deal with it and find other ways to connect. But when they reject something of greater substance like your faith or values, it humbles you in a hurry. We realize in these moments how much we need God to steer our children on the right path.
5. Kids will rat you out.
Remember that lack of a filter? It will cause your kids to tell the neighbors, the mailman, their teachers, and anyone else who will listen all the things you’d just as soon keep private. “My mom never cooks. We order pizza a lot!” “Our house never looks like this. My mom made us clean it up because you were coming over, Grandma.” “My mom called my dad a word we’re not supposed to say, didn’t you, Mom?” It’s like living with the town crier. On the upside, it keeps us accountable.
All in all, the humbling aspects of motherhood have been good. Pride can be a major stumbling block for me. It allows me to take too much credit for what was really God’s work and causes me to care a bit too much about what others think. When kids pop your pride bubble on a regular basis, it helps you stay humble. And that’s not so bad. So when your kids blow up your world with their rugged individualism and unfiltered commentary, just remember: It’s making you a better person.
What moments as a mom have brought your ego down to size?
Dana Hall McCain writes about marriage, parenting, faith and wellness. She is a mom of two, and has been married to a wonderful guy for over 18 years.