All together now, repeat after me….”I am a good mom.”
“I am a good mom!”
“I AM A GOOD MOM!!!”
There, that’s better. Did it feel good?
Perhaps. But do you believe it to be true?
However irrational it may be, moms have a reputation for comparing themselves to others. Other moms, their own moms, other families, and even complete strangers.
We are so quick to feel the crushing weight of guilt and worry on our shoulders over very, very minor things. We apologize for the dumbest things.
Someone stops by for a surprise visit and we say, “Pardon this mess,” when in fact the place is spotless.
Someone tells us our pie is delicious and we say, “You think so? It didn’t turn out quite like I wanted it to,” instead of graciously accepting the compliment.
We go to the store in our pajamas and run into someone and we say, “Sorry you have to see me without makeup,” without even realizing that the person we ran into is not wearing makeup either.
We compare children. And not usually in the my-kid-is-better-than-yours way. We see all of our children’s shortcomings in full light next to other people’s children. Our kids’ minor tantrums look huge next to the perfectly behaved kid standing at the next checkout counter. And as we are trying to appease our kid, we are side-eyeing the other mom trying to figure out the secret to her success, when in fact she doesn’t have “success,” she has luck. And better timing.
How many of us are caught up in Pinterest? While Pinterest may be the neatest gadget the internet has ever known, it certainly doesn’t make us feel all warm and fuzzy with parental pride. Aside from the guilt we experience because we will never complete a single pinned project, we are also reminded that we have no photography skills, no cooking skills, no housekeeping skills, and our kids are going to be dumb as rocks because we don’t do education lessons with egg cartons or hide stuff in bowls of rice. In fact, our kids’ craft projects are completed with just office paper stolen from the printer, kid scissors, and a box of somewhat dried out markers. And maybe a few pipe cleaners salvaged from an old art project.
We go on the internet and join mommy chat groups where mommy wars abound. Didn’t breastfeed? Your child will never bond with you and you are the scum of the earth! You didn’t let your newborn sleep in bed with you? You’re child will be lonely, scared and scarred for life. You are a selfish, self-serving low life because you got a babysitter and went out for drinks with your girlfriends ONE TIME before your child was 3 years old. So you don’t dare mention that you also went on vacation alone with your husband. For two days. I kid you not, there are women out there who see every parenting choice in shades of black and white with no room for any color in between. They are convinced there are no other acceptable alternatives and berate the masses who do not share the same beliefs.
But you know what? Despite all of our misgivings about ourselves as mothers, we are good moms. We are more than good. We are awesome moms!
We feed, clothe, house and hug our kids every single day without fail. We yell at them when necessary and sometimes when we shouldn’t. We apologize for our shortcomings so they understand that even moms aren’t perfect. We play with them most of the time when they ask, but sometimes not. We groan and cringe and cry over their behavior. But we smile and laugh most of the time. We hug them and tickle them and apply all sorts of kisses. We set boundaries, some looser than others. We tell them no when necessary, though we sometimes forget to sweat the small stuff, too. We make big deals over small accomplishments. We help with homework, we force them to try their peas while cringing through our own dislike. We give in and feed them ice cream even when they didn’t finish their dinner. Sometimes. We talk to them all the time. We try to make sense of scary situations, we work tirelessly to help them navigate a really big world. We invest ourselves in their emotions. Our hearts soar when theirs soar, our hearts break when theirs are broken. We pray for them. A lot.
We try and we fail. Constantly. We try again. And again and again. And then one day, it happens. We make a breakthrough. We get it right. Or right enough to get the job done. And we rejoice in our own success.
I am no expert parent. Not by a long shot. My list of shortcomings is appalling. But if I’ve learned anything in these few short years, a good mom compares herself to herself and no one else. We find our strengths and make sure we get to use them a lot. We take our shortcomings and work toward the change we want to see within ourselves. We seek out those things in life that are important to us, those qualities we want to see in our grown children and we nurture the hell out of them. And not a single one of us follow the same path in accomplishing this.
And we support other moms in all of their choices, the black, white and everything in between. We check our opinions at the door. We are a listening ear, a helping hand, we fulfill a need if we are able, we share own experiences if asked. We offer patience, kindness and generosity. Nothing more, nothing less.
We can end the mommy wars and the crushing guilt. We really can. We need to march to our own beat and squash all the perceived expectations. We need to know that the woman posting photos of her immaculate home has a bathroom as messy as ours and a closet full of the crap she removed to make the room picture perfect. We need to know that every kid and every family is different, a million times over. We all have different priorities and our feelings about other moms’ priorities are a wasted emotion. We need to know that not every expert in the field is right. Not by a long shot. We need to know that a lack of time to do math flashcards or shop for a birthday card isn’t failure. It’s life. We strive to do better the next time. There are few things in life truly, sincerely harmful to a child. But we speak up if we see true harm. And we speak loudly.
We are united by our motherly instincts. You hear that? We have super powers. We are a force of supernatural women, all with the same goal: Happy, healthy, productive kids of upstanding character. And you know what? There a billions of happy, healthy productive adults out there who didn’t have picture perfect moms. And not one of them got there on the exact same path.
So Happy Mother’s Day to all. We are going to be just fine. And AWESOME.