I know in theory we all know there is no perfect mother.
In reality, however, we seem to hold ourselves to a standard of motherhood that’s insane. I mean flat out, crazy-making, cuckoo land kind of nuts.
And if that weren’t bad enough, we trick ourselves into believing we’re the only ones who fail at all. the. things. And then we beat ourselves up. And tell ourselves mean things at the end of long days.
Days spent keeping tiny humans alive and thriving.
When we’ve cooked and cleaned and commuted and brought home the bacon and washed and cleaned some more and checked the homework and sung the songs and read the books we sit down on the sofa and shake our heads and tell ourselves what bad, bad moms we are.
That’s insane. And exhausting.
And in case you thought you were the only one, here’s a small taste of the crazy that runs in wild and vicious loop through my mind on any given day:
- You should have added pureed spinach to dinner tonight.
- You should have remembered to buy spinach.
- You should have been meal planning for the last four years so that spinach could have made it onto the shopping list.
- You shouldn’t have let them watch TV while eating last night. Or this morning.
- You should be having more meaningful dinner conversations.
- You should have baked the birthday cake from scratch.
- You should have bought more favors for the party gift bags.
- You should have taught them to do their own laundry by now.
- You should at least have a chore chart.
- You should have done more educational activities this summer.
- You should read more to them.
- You should watch less TV with them.
- You should work less.
- You should educate more.
- You should stop feeding them Chef Boyardee anything.
- You should make them actually open the library books we checked out.
- You should enjoy them more.
- You should lose your patience less.
- You should have a more creative system for displaying their art than just putting it up on the fridge with the magnets that come with the pizza delivery.
- You should have built more fairy gardens instead of just giving them the leftover parts of the last vacuum cleaner to fashion into random pirate swords, wands or zombie weapons.
- You should make home made snacks.
- You should wash their sheets more regularly.
- You should eat less ice cream. You should exercise more.
- You should go to bed earlier.
- You should be like her.
Until my head is about to split right open. Until I forget that I showed up. I parented. I made dinner. And you know what? You did too.
You showed up, you went to the parent-teacher conferences, you read the books, you worried the test scores, you prayed the desperate plea of courage. You woke up when they threw up.
You cleaned up, loved up, got up early and went to bed late.
You let her paint while you wrote that paper or report or presentation on the day the babysitter was sick.
You carried on and over and through and around all the obstacles of getting to school on time and remembering the activities and writing down the lists and buying the right size cleats and paying the fortune to attend the dance recital that you paid the lessons for all. year. long.
You listened to the spats about hair clips and jean brands and tried to find a way to build bridges over the Grand Canyons that recently caved in between best friends.
You made lunches or paid for lunches or cut sandwiches into creative Bento Box shapes and still somewhere in the back of your head something screamed, “You’re not doing enough.”
You did the car pool and got stuck in the commuter traffic backlash and lost the last chance to re-review that presentation that was due at 9am.
You built forts out of old towels and let them jump on your bed. You laughed while they braided your hair within an inch of losing your head.
You are a warrior.
You are a wonder.
You are a mighty-doer-of-grand deeds.
You are wildly under-rating yourself.
In this season of deep, up-to-the-elbows busy.
You are already doing all the things. That’s what counts. Not that you’re doing them differently than the mom at the school pick up, or around the corner or in the next row over at church.
You are mothering. You actually already are.
So go ahead, let yourself off the hook. Dish up the ice cream at 10pm and not the guilt.