I don't know about you, but being a mom is friggen hard work. In the day and age of pinterest, blogging, facebook, and other types of social media, it is easy to play the comparison game...at least for me it is. So and so is spectacular at making holidays a big deal. This mom is ALWAYS playing with her kids. This one won't come along on girl's night because she wants to put her kids to bed. That one lets her kids get ridiculously messy and then actually LAUGHS about it. Most of the time, I welcome other blogs and points of view. I like getting ideas for things I can do with my kids. Ideas that may make me a "better mom".
Other times, I feel very defeated. I feel like saying, "Mandi, you suck at this whole mom thing big time." While other moms are doing amazing things and making their kids grow up healthy and happy and respectful and responsible, I'm over hear yelling, "WHY AREN'T YOU PEOPLE FLUSHING THE POTTY" or "PICK UP YOUR CLOTHES, I'M NOT YOUR MAID", "WERE YOU BORN IN A BARN" or my favorite "YOU DRIVE ME TO DRINK." (Oh okay...too much??)
Parenting is a hard job, and I'm not very good at it. It's definitely not because I don't love my children. It's very much the opposite. I love them so much that when I think of it too often, I get all sentimental. Tears well up and I get very overwhelmed at all the things I'm doing to screw them up. But sometimes...sometimes, I get distracted. I get distracted by things like my job, me time, Facebook, other blogs, working out. I try to be present and calm and patient and nuturing, but that's a hard thing to do when you are juggling so many balls in the air. But those are all just excuses really.
I vent about a lot of things, and I know that venting can turn ugly and resentment can develop instead of the peace that was supposed to come from spilling your guts. After awhile, all of the overwhelming things of our day to day lives start to pile up until I eventually just lose it in a big and bad way. I'm a yeller. When I've lost it, you'll find me yelling at my kids for something that would make a "normal" mom say.."I'm picking my battles. This one isn't it." I reflect back on most mornings full of regret and shame that I talked to my kids that way and sent them to school probably feeling pretty crummy about themselves.
That's when my ugly inner voice starts to say things that make question whether or not I should have ever been a parent. What the heck is wrong with you? Why are you so snappy and impatient? Your kids are going to grow up and say, "I'm not going to do this the way my mom did it." You are ruining them. That inner voice is a mean, nasty, b word. She's not kind, and when she comes out, it's hard to shut her up.
Let me tell you something. Your inner voice is a dick. Pardon my French, but she is. Don't listen to her. She likes to make you feel bad. But on a good day....when your brain has been fed enough and has been well rested, you may be able to overcome that inner voice and remind it that you are in fact a good mother. THAT voice may tell you, "Just apologize. Say your sorry. Keep showing up."
I don't know about your mom, but mine was not perfect. I know there were times she yelled at us and made mistakes. But you know what? I don't remember many of them, but I do remember MANY of the things my mom did to show us she loved us. She worked in the evenings when we were not in school so that she could be with us all day. She made us our favorite meals and always put lots and lots of thought into our birthday gifts. She sang a song every morning to wake me up in the gentlest way possible. She would come home at night from work when we were sleeping and kiss us on the forehead every single night when she thought we were sleeping.
You see, she just showed up. She didn't do everything right, but we hardly knew when she was doing it wrong. She made sure we knew she loved us with her whole heart. When I came home one night, my junior year of high school, sat my parents down and told them I was pregnant, my mom cried with me, held my terrified hand, and told me we would get through this together. That she loved me no matter what.
Now that I'm a parent. I get it. I get how you can love your kids with every sense of your being and still make mistakes..daily. The hardest thing I have to do is forgive myself. Every day is a new start. A new chance to do things right or be better than I was yesterday. I worry about whether or not my kids are learning how to treat other people right. If they are showing enough love to everyone they meet. I spend a lot of time worrying if I'm a good enough example of how I want them to turn out. I don't know much, really, but one thing I do know is that I love my kids...no matter what. It isn't followed with a but and it is forever chances. I took this next little part from a blogger over at Rants From Mommyland, and it seems very fitting in my life right now. In fact, most of my post was inspired by her.
Jaedyn, Carter and Sawyer.....I love you.....
When you’re good.
When you don’t listen.
At 3am when you’re up for the fourth time.
When you’re being sweet.
When you hit your sister.
When it takes you 400 tries to just go to sleep.
When you are so deep in a tantrum that you can’t even hear me.
When you’re angry and defiant.
When you forget to flush.
In sickness and in health.
When you forget every single thing that you are supposed to remember.
If you decide you’re suddenly too cool to play with the toys we spent five years collecting for you.
When you hit a home run!
If you’re mean to other people.
If other people are mean to you.
If you fail a class.
If you have no friends.
If you have too many friends and I hate all of them.
If you’re fat.
If you’re beautiful (AND YOU ARE).
If you crash our car.
If I find weed in your sock drawer.
If you never call me back and always ask for money.
Gay or straight.
If you never come home on break.
If you totally f*&k everything up.
If you do things that astound even your grandparents.
If you disapprove of how we live.
If you choose someone who is the complete opposite of me.
If I lose you.
If I’m lost.
It does not matter.
Lately, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the the uncertain future my kids have. I feel like there is so much more that they have to deal with and harder choices they will have to make. What if they make the wrong choices and pick the wrong friends? They are growing up so fast, and in these fleeting moments, I know I will still worry whether or not I'm doing a good enough job raising them. I will not, however, lower my expectations for my children to love others, be kind always, and to work hard for what they want. I also know that in the midst of trying to be a good mom and hold them accountable for these things, I will yell. I will make mistakes, and they will make mistakes. We will say we're sorry and try again. All I can promise is that I will keep trying to be a better mom, and I will never stop showing up.
70 years from now, when I am either long gone or nearing the finish line, I hope my kids will remember how much we loved them with our whole hearts....no matter what.
Happy Mother's Day to all those who love a child or hope to love their own someday. You are amazing women. Keep showing up.