In the past couple of weeks, I’ve come across quite a few blogs wherein the mom-authors fess up to their mediocre parenting skills. I’ve seen these on the Huffington Post and shared all over Facebook, and I admire the authors’ candid confessions, most of all because being average is not something about which any of us should be ashamed. Everybody can’t be excellent because then excellence would be the norm, and we’d all be striving for super-intense-craziness, and frankly I’m tired enough just thinking about Pinterest. If we could all agree that average is a-ok, then we could stop all the judging and insecurities and anxieties and just relax. Raising kids is tough for everyone, so why all the pretending like it isn’t?
But as much as I appreciate the I-still-have-my-baby-weight-and-sometimes-I-spend-too-much-time-on-my-phone-and-also-kind-of-lose-my-cool-in-public-when-my-kids-are-behaving-like-animals honesty, I also feel like the writers of those blog posts (and all other parents out there) need to give themselves a big, fat break. And here’s why:
You’re all damn good moms.
You might be wondering how I know this, so I’ll tell you:
I am a damn good mom.
That doesn’t mean I believe I’m perfect. No way. Let’s take Sunday night for example. We went out to dinner–something we do way too much, but whatever—-and Jude decided that all he’d like from his smorgasbord of fried food was a good, healthy helping of fries. That’s right. My two-and-a-half year old ate french fries for dinner because I was not going to fight with him and because he eats lots of fruits and yogurt and tomatoes and cucumbers and eggs and other pretty-darn-good-for you stuff all week long. I’m not going to say he eats great all the time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a human being love a chicken tender more than my son, BUT, despite what my mom and grandmother think, he does okay for a toddler.
And while we’re at it, here’s another:
As I’m typing this at eleven-forty-five pm, my little dear-heart is tossing and turning in the bed next to me because his room is “too scary.”
Also, we are never on time for anything.
And, last week, I forgot his hat at home on a blustery cold day and then spent the day fearing that he’d refuse to wear his hood and would get a rancid ear infection on the playground. (They didn’t go outside that day. Whew.)
If I thought harder and longer about it, I could find all sorts of examples that would illustrate the not-quite-gold-star moments of our lives. But I don’t think that doesn’t make me a bad mom or even a mediocre one.
It just makes me a mom.
So what makes me a damn good one? I’m pretty sure it’s the overwhelming, borderline-certifiable, all-consuming love I have for my Jude. It doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated when he throws his food on the floor or lose it when I’m running late for work, and he just won’t get in his carseat. It just means underneath all the muck and mire, there’s always deep, enduring, well-intentioned love, and I’m pretty sure that’s all that matters.
No matter what nutso things happen during the week, it’s those moments when I look at my smiling little boy who likes to sing and pretend he’s a dinosaur, and I think:
“I love our lives together.”
In almost every other part of my life, I struggle with feeling “not good enough,” but when it comes to my son, I insist on believing in myself. I realize that no matter how hard I try to be the-best-mom-that-ever-lived, Jude will still go through periods where he is embarrassed by me and maybe even hates me. I’ll love him through it any way. And maybe he won’t always remember to call me or visit me as often as I like when he goes on into his adult life. I’ll love him through it any way. And someday, he might be sitting on a therapist’s couch, recanting all the ways in which I ruined his life. I’ll love him any way.
I can’t imagine how life will turn out for him or for me, and I can’t say that there won’t be hardship or disappointment or even despair, but there will always be one constant:
I love him. I love him. I love him. And I always, always, always be his biggest fan.
A couple of weeks ago, I was in the Panera (shock!), and I noticed a mom unbundling her infant son at one of the booths. I asked her if I could get her food for her when it was ready. I remembered those days of balancing my baby and my lunch and how much I appreciated it when someone offered to help, and I wanted to extend the same. In the span of our ten minute conversation, she told me that she was loving her time with her now six-month old son, but that nursing is exhausting and that her husband isn’t as big a help as she imagined and she’s worried about losing the baby weight and thinking about when she should have another one. She’s snug in that baby bubble that I also remember quite well. She’s feeling mediocre. So, I told her that the second baby (or not!) and the weight and all those other things would work themselves out (they will!) and that she should just keep on loving up every inch of that baby because that is what’s bringing her the most peace, and truly, that’s the thing that counts the most.
Basically, I wanted her to know that she’s a damn good mom, something we all need to remember. We may try hard and fail harder, but we keep getting up early and packing semi-healthy lunches and kissing bumped knees and cuddling after nightmares and just being there (or being vaguely distracted in the general vicinity). We don’t need to stop sharing our stories, but we need to stop labeling them as mediocre because we’re damn, damn good moms.
And it’s time we start owning that.