As I zipped up my children’s lunch boxes, I mentally patted myself on the back. I had packed a healthy and balanced lunch for both of them, tailored to their individual tastes.
As I do each and every school day.
Smiling, I put them into the respective back packs and went back to my coffee.
It got me thinking.
So often, it is so much easier to notice all the ways I suck as a mom– the times I yell, the times I am too tired to play hide and seek and turn on the television instead, the times I only half listen to my son talk about something important to him as I bustle to clean off the table, the times I toss my daughter into her crib for a time out instead of patiently explaining for the 400th time why she can’t pull the cat’s tail.
So often motherhood feels more like an impossible feat of strength than a labor of unconditional love.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe there was a time you rolled over and let the baby cry for an extra minute because your bones were leaden with exhaustion. Maybe there was a time you gritted your teeth in a store and swore under your breath because your kid was pitching a fit. Maybe you let your child go one extra day without a bath because you just didn’t have the gumption to clean out the tub. Maybe there was a time you fantasized, just for a moment, about getting out a suitcase, packing it up, getting in your car and driving far, far away.
But what about the times when we really get it right?
What about the lunches we pack with tender care, thinking about how a daughter’s two-year-old hands will take out her favorite kind of cheese, or how a little boy will run his tongue over the remnants of organic fruit snacks that are stuck in his teeth.
What about the stories we read?
What about the banana bread we bake, and to which we add chocolate chips because it will be so much tastier?
What about all the loving hugs and kisses and nuzzles? What about our fingers gently stroking through sleep-tangled hair? What about extended breast-feeding? What about trying our best to buy food without any artificial colors?
When I think about it, I come up with walks down the street to see the ducks. I think about how I model a cautious approach and asking before petting a strange dog, so my children will learn safety. I think about going to the playground and pushing my daughter in the swing, laughing genuinely with her delight. I think about lying down next to my son in the middle of the night after he has had a nightmare.
Intrinsically, I do all the things a “good mom” is supposed to do. But sometimes in the act of doing everything a “good” working mother does, I lose sight of the fact that I am doing them. What makes it so hard to see all of the love and support I give my children, but so easy to see all my little failures?
Do you do this too?
And those shortcomings? Do they make us bad moms?
I don’t think so.
Sometimes it feels like we are sucky moms, but I think we are just human moms, vulnerable to stress, guilt, exhaustion, and our many responsibilities.
Take a moment to breathe deeply and know you are doing an awesome job. You are rocking this working mom thing. You are crushing this stay at home mom gig.
You are a great mom.
That’s why your kids rush up and scream “Mama’s home!” when you arrive from work. That’s why you are the one to whom they present their boo-boos for kisses. That’s why they resent the limits and boundaries you set for safety.
Every little thing you do counts, even just making a lunch or tucking into bed. Keep up the great work.
What did you do today to rock as a mom/parent?