A mundane (routine, even) task that escalated quickly showed me how close we all can be to becoming the mom we swore we’d never be.
Little Miss was in need of a dose of children’s ibuprofen. Superman attempted to administer it. This was met by shrill comments of, “Wait, wait, wait!” and tears. Inexplicably, tears. My turn. I attempted to administer the thick, grapey, purple solution and was met with the same reaction. She actually likes the taste of this. I couldn’t wrap my head around it, but I was growing in frustration. I *calmly* told her to open her mouth, I placed the cup to her mouth, and she pushed it away with her hands, sending the purple goo flying in slow motion out of my hand, into the air, onto her hair and jacket, and all over the tile in the kitchen.
I felt it welling up inside. The complete surprise from this turn of events. The frustration at now being forced to change clothes, rinse hair, and clean up a sticky floor. Frustration gave way to irritation. Irritation gave way to anger. I started spouting sentences that I can’t even fully recall right now, removed from it, about the mess and the waste of time and the sheer nonsense that this entire episode was.
More tears. Followed by a plaintive “I’m sorry, Mama.”
I realized that not even Little Miss realized the why of that situation, but here in its aftermath with me, she, too was looking to pick up the pieces and make it right.
You know the one I’m talking about. You’ve met the one I’m talking about. Likely, you’ve also judged the one to whom I’m referring. Chances are, you’ve been the one I’m talking about.
The mom who loses her temper. The one who allows her child to be openly defiant.
I swore that I’d never use my vocabulary to loose vicious and cruel statements upon her children (so far, so good). That I’d never not make time to play with my children (have you seen Monday’s post about my breaking point?). I thought that I’d read stories to my children every. single. night, without fail, rain or shine (this one’s hit and miss).
For sure, I didn’t want my children looking back on their childhood years from now saying “Mom did it all wrong.” or “I’m nothing like my mother.” Thinking that I just didn’t get it or I was too angry.
It’s too easy to get close to that point, though.
We’d all like to think that we’re the fun Mary Poppins moms, with endless energy and ideas for games, time for making toys and homemade science experiments on the regular. But let’s face it. The chores have to get done, and responsibility is a good thing. Miss Hannigan begins to look like she had a few things right.
In all seriousness, though, wouldn’t it be easy to slip into being “that mom?” Our generation of mommies are more stressed out than any of our previous ones, according to studies, opinion pieces, and social media satire memes, Tweets, and posts. We have this obsession (at least in America) with making our children Renaissance Children (with a competetive edge): be fluent in three languages, be disciplined in the martial arts, be a viola virtuoso, a budding sports star, and a performer. On top of school. Add work, PTA, church, a marriage, and more children, moms are practically wired these days to snap.
It is too easy to become overtaken by it all. Haven’t we all been there?
It’s the Pinterest Perfect mom. Obviously. This is actually a phrase I thought I was clever enough to coin, but upon Google searching…well…I’m not. Not even close. I saw a few blog posts about it, but this one is spot-on.
I know that I am never going to be the mom who makes my own yogurt in the Crock-Pot or the pressure cooker. No matter how easy you tell me it is. I know that about myself. Homemade bubbles? I got that, but yogurt…pass.
You know what else?
I’m not a Supermom. God knows that I have tried to be, but I just can’t. Neither can you, lady. Our friend and #CoolCatholicWomen list-maker Ginny Kochis at Not So Formulaic just wrote about this. Check it out here.
A phrase that has been coming back to me in various forms for two weeks now is this: “You can’t be all things to all people.”I’m not going to be the PTA president, class room mom, backstage mom at dance, team mom at soccer, the leader of a new ministry for my children, a June Cleaver-esque housewife, a doting wife to my husband, and a successful working mom. I’m not going to be that because that isn’t real.
It’s a myth.
I am a human woman. Flawed, talented, hilarious, and limited in how much/what I can actually do. It’s perfectly acceptable to acknowledge that.
I am the mom who is a little lame. The room mom (since pre-K). I’m the mom that has impromtu dance parties in the living room. One of the co-founders of Park in the Dark (an event that takes place after sundown in a park with glow sticks). I know how to stroke her back when she’s worried and how to fix the waist of her leggings or tights so they’re comfortable.
I’m also the best mom for my daughter (and any subsequent children that come my way). Together, we craft some truly crazy Barbie/Shopkins/Trolls/My Little Pony storylines. They’re pretty awesome and also involve Mother Gothel, Prince Phillip from Sleeping Beauty, some DC Superhero Girls and some Project Mc² dolls.
She and I are really perfect for one another. On most days, her silly is energizing and my silly is just what she needs. Her hugs are therapeutic and mine reassure her that everything’s gonna be okay.
So be gentle with yourself. You aren’t always going to get it right. Sometimes, you’ll come close to being the mom you swore you’d never be. But motherhood is hard. And I’d suspect that mostly, you’re doing a great job.