Pre-motherhood, I had a vision of the kind of mother I wanted to be.
Ok, maybe not this extreme, but I thought it would be all butterflies and sunshine and playing together and being nice. Apparently, my mom made it look EASY.
Spoiler alert: What I envisioned is nothing like the mother I am. Not even close.
Sure, I hit most of my babyhood/toddler/early childhood milestones – I changed a gazillion diapers (we’re still going with that one), I breastfed for a million years (well worth the time and effort, they are some of my favorite memories), I did the whole not sleeping then, which I then followed it up with the whole sleep training thing. I am diligent about vaccinations. My kids get flu shots and go to the Dr. for they annual checkups. I have done hours of research on fevers, colds, coughs, diarrhea, and vomiting. I spent countless hours worried about those same things. I kiss them a million times a day (I would if that were possible) and I tell them how much I love them even more than that.
But, motherhood is so incredibly different. Of course, it’s harder – but it’s more than that. There are so many more dimensions to it than I ever thought possible. I frequently use the phrase “herding cats” — but it’s even more than that. Actually, I think my issue ISN’T the kids part. I mean, I love my kids. I would do anything for them. However, they are kids. They don’t know what the hell they are doing. It’s my JOB as a mom to make them the best people they can be. I think what gets to me the most is that society/most people you know think you are are going to have the most perfect children alive – from birth. I totally accept my kids’ flaws and that it’s my responsibility to teach them right from wrong. But there is so much pressure — so much more than I ever imagined — to be the perfect parent. I would love to the parent who is always there, always watching, always volunteering, best friends with all of the teachers, and constantly involved with my kids. If anyone wants to share me the secrets to doing that WITH a full-time (and demanding job), I’m all ears. Quitting said job is not an option, nor would that be true to who I am as a mother.
That said, I’m fairly certain I’m never going to be THAT mother. No, it just doesn’t suite me. Instead I think I’m a little bit of this…
combined with a little bit of this…
and a little of this…
And a few other inspirational, yet imperfect, moms over the years.
I’m going to be the mother who loves her babies (and they will always be my babies) with reckless abandon. I will kiss and hug my kids in public, even it embarrasses them (ask my 3rd grader). I will tell my daughter she is beautiful, smart, and can do anything her brothers can do, and maybe things they cannot – not because it’s a positive message, but because it’s true. I will tell my sons that they are handsome, smart, and can do anything their sister can do, and maybe things she cannot- not because it’s sexist if I don’t, but because it’s true. Ultimately, my kids can and will do whatever the hell they are capable of doing. That’s not up for me to decide — just to steer, guide, and some day… let go.
I am and I’m going to continue to be the mom who struggles with each stage.. who questions if she is doing things “right.” I am the mom who worries. I am the mom who tries to fix things. I am the mom who sweats the small stuff. I may not always appear to be that mom, but I can put on a good show. I am ALWAYS that mom.
I am also the mom with amazing friends who don’t define themselves by what TYPE of mother they are. Stay-at-home, work-at-home, work-out-of-home… you know what? I don’t give a f**k. Do you understand the struggles of being a mom? OK cool, let’s be friends and bitch about it — and also plan fun events together. We all have different experiences as mothers – why not focus on what we have in common? There’s always something.
So after all of this rambling, do you want to know what type of mom I WANT to be?
One who is needed and loved. One that makes mistakes, but keeps trying. One who knows when to ask for help. One who sets a good example (most of the time). One who teaches her kids that sarcasm, humor, and being silly are just as importance as book smarts and an education. One who values friendship and encourages best friends. One who can crack jokes and play tricks — and expect the same in return. One who pushes her children to try new things, even if they aren’t good at them. One who recognizes and celebrates the strengths in her children – even if they aren’t ones that she can related to or identify with. One who swears – and teaches her kids that words are powerful so they should be used sparingly/appropriately. One who travels with her kids and shares experiences with an open mind. One who doesn’t act like she’s perfect. One who understands her limits. One who dances with her kids, even if it embarrasses them. One who isn’t afraid of what people think of her. One who doesn’t judge other moms for their choices, mistakes, and imperfections. One who makes memories, preferably good, that they will hold in their hearts and someday share with THEIR families. One who spends quality time with her family and makes the most of those moments despite busy schedules, deadlines, travel, and everything in between. One who lets their kid look like a disaster out in public because if meant they had amazing time…
Will I ever REALLY know if I’ve been a “successful” mother? Doubtful. What is success?
I will be content if I can manage even half this list. Hell, I will be content if I managed the first item on the list. Being needed and loved — deep down, who imagines motherhood being more than anyway? It’s the best part.
What kind of mother do YOU want to be? What kind of mother did you think you WOULD be?