inner critic

All posts tagged inner critic

Good vs. Bad

Published July 16, 2013 by joypatton


I’ve been realizing lately that I have two columns running through my head all day long. One column keeps all the good things I’ve done and one keeps all the bad. Mostly it’s good mom vs. bad mom. I have been realizing how often I tell myself I’m a bad mom in one form or another. (See last week’s post.)

For example, this morning started off with the good mom column. I spent time checking my kids “work boxes,” giving points for yesterday’s chores and loading them up with chores for the day. I even included “fun chores” like playing UNO Attack together. But this could turn out to be an item in the bad mom column if they actually attack each other during the game. You see, I’m a bad mom because I haven’t taught my children how to play together without fighting. Then at work I realized I didn’t have my phone within ear shot. Bad mom. Fortunately when I checked it, there were no urgent messages, so the work boxes must be working. Good mom.

This afternoon I came home and the girls wanted to go to the pool. But I couldn’t take them because I had to take Connor to the doctor. This is bad mom because I let him play in the woods, and he got poison ivy because I didn’t make him shower when he came in. Every time he gets poison ivy it takes over, and we can’t get rid of it until he gets a steroid prescription.  Bad mom.

While at the doctor’s, my dear husband texted to say he was taking the girls to the pool. Bad mom because he had to stop working to take care of the kids. When I got home, I made a good mom choice…I think. Andrew stayed at the pool with the kids and I mopped the floor. It could be bad mom for not choosing to spend time with the girls or it could be bad wife for not spending time with the husband.  But it could also be good wife because he came home to a clean house.

Tonight the boys went to a baseball game, so I was trying to find something fun to do with the girls. We decided to go to the mall and ride the little train. Bad mom for teaching my girls that shopping is what girls do for fun. Bad mom for not being content to spend the evening at home. Good mom for spending time with the girls.

When we got there, I had no cash. Bad mom. After the train ride, I let them pick the restaurant in the food court. Of course, it was pizza again. Bad mom. I picked the salad. Good choice. But also ate a big helping of pasta. Bad choice. I did have a diet Pepsi that I split with my daughter. Now this one could go in either column depending who you talk to. Bad for the caffeine and letting my daughter have it and that all diet drinks are just bad for you and you should just have water. Good because it was diet and had very few calories?? So confusing. I realized that pasta was a really bad choice when I went to try on clothes and everything made me look fat. Very bad choice.

Then we went to the playground at the mall. Good mom. And I just removed the sucker from my daughter’s mouth so as not to worry other moms that she would get a sucker stick through her brain. Good mom. But then again, I’m sitting here typing a blog instead of engaging with them. Bad mom.

Maybe your columns are different. maybe your day is measured by smart vs. dumb or cool vs. lame. Do you think that God keeps this kind of record of your day? If he did, would his record match yours?

As I have considered it, I think the answer to both of those questions is no. When God looks at me he doesn’t see two columns. He has no cosmic scale. When he looks at the chart of my day, the current of his thought is love. His abundant, free-flowing grace covers my day. His mercy is new every morning. He keeps no record of wrongs. It has all been forgiven. He is far more concerned with my heart because when my heart is turned toward him, the choices that matter fall into place. My heart turns toward him because of his great love for me, not because I’m trying to keep points in the good column. I also don’t avoid him because I’m afraid the bad column will bring his wrath, which is completely deserved. Instead I turn toward him because of his steadfast, everlasting love.

When I judge my day according to columns, it also affects those closest to me. They get columns too: good kid vs. bad kid, good husband vs. bad husband, good friend vs. bad friend. But when I learn to accept the grace and mercy God pours on my day, I am free to pour out grace and mercy on those around me. And they feel loved.

Consider this question: how many checks in the bad column could your child have before you stopped loving him or her? This is a ridiculous question because I simply can’t come up with a number. No matter how full the bad column was this good mom would always love her kid. So then if we know how to love our children in spite of poor choices, how much more does our Father in heaven?

I’m learning to replace two words, good and bad, with one word… LOVE. To receive it from the Father and to give it to others.

What are your columns today? Will you believe in and accept the Father’s love?


Bad Mom

Published July 8, 2013 by joypatton

I’m sitting at a brown table built with 2×4’s under the shade of a green umbrella. Sounds of children playing bounce back and forth. Above it all, I hear my daughter Hope bossing around the other kids, telling them how to play the game. I hear a mom correct her child, followed by the familiar “No!” Internal sigh of relief that my kids aren’t the only ones who talk back.

Teens in bikinis come into the pool sipping Sonic drinks. I wonder if I will let my daughters wear bikinis when they are teenagers. It’s so hard to say no when they look so good in them. I remember when I had a body like that…well maybe not just like that.

My friend is sitting down by the deep end. I haven’t gone over to chat because I have “work” to do like writing this blog. I’m trying to collect my scattered thoughts. This morning it seems…

“Mom! I’m going potty!” announces my youngest daughter Faith as she runs dripping to the bathroom. It feels like every five minutes my thoughts are interrupted by kids asking questions.

“When can we go to the pool? Can we go to Bounce U? Have you called Bounce U? Can I bring a friend?”

In between the questions, I’m trying to check off the to-do list running through my head. Change dentist appointment. Find a place to board the dog. Call my mother.

“1…2…3…go!” I hear Kyle say in the deep end. And one lonely girl in the kiddie pool calling “Polo…Polo…Polo.”

“My name is Faith,” my daughter says when the girl calls her Marco. Guess I need to add teaching her how to play Marco Polo to the list.

The poor kid sitting behind me is trying to endure a disciplinary lecture from his mom. Another boy sits across from me working on homework in a workbook. We all try so hard to be good moms.

Kyle just walked up with ice cream. He hasn’t had lunch. How can a good mom let her son have ice cream before lunch? I remind myself that I did succeed in parenting Faith. She sits next to me finishing her PBJ so she can go get ice cream. And I am a good mom because my kids have to earn their ice cream money. Justified.

“Mom will you play horseshoe with me?”

“Not right now.” See, I told you I was a bad mom. Choosing writing over my kids. Bad mom. They want me to come swim with them and honestly I don’t want to. I would rather write.

“Please Mom?”

“Not right now. Maybe when I’m done.” And the questions don’t stop and the thoughts are never complete. And I feel like I’m going crazy. Like I’m going to jump out of my skin. God, didn’t you know I was an introvert control freak? So why the four kids? He just smiles a mischievous, Father-knows-best kind of grin.

I do however stop writing to help Faith finish her ice cream, and she didn’t even have to ask. Priorities…you know? Now she’s off to socialize with the teens in bikinis. Bad mom.

But I’m supposed to enjoy this because someday I will come to the pool alone because everyone is too busy to come. I will bring my sunglasses, my book, my suntan lotion and my big floppy hat. Someday I will sit at the pool and read and only take a dip when I get hot. I will get my own ice cream and not have to share it with anyone. I could even spend time blogging at the pool and not fee guilty about it.



This was actually a writing exercise I did to help me be present in the moment and pay attention to what I was thinking about. What I realized was how often I told myself that I was a bad mom. Of course, I know all the right answers and remedies about trusting God and pleasing only him, and I have given them to people before. And yet…I still struggle, like most women do, with the internal dialogue, the inner critic, that follows me throughout my day. I wish that other people understood what I told myself on a daily basis. Maybe they would think twice before telling me what I’m doing wrong as a parent or boasting about what they are doing right. I wish my husband remembered how little positive affirmation there was in the profession of motherhood. I hope that I will remember this the next time I’m tempted to judge another mom or boast about my own shining moments, brief as they are. And the next time you see a mom being the best mom she can be, tell her she’s doing a great job and help her inner critic shut up for just a moment.


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