There was a day last week that I felt like a stellar mom. Let me be clear: days like that are rare. Usually, I find myself battling a pretty ruthless guilt complex—and the guilt always wins. Guilt for my dwindling patience, guilt for allowing too much Netflix, guilt for not having enough fun activities planned…
But for whatever reason, there was a day last week that brought with it a higher degree of patience, an energy that matched Milo’s, and this willingness to push my own agenda aside completely.
It was a good day.
After about ten rounds of the airplane game, some hilariously failed crafts, and a pattern of NOT checking my phone compulsively, we were at the park. Milo wasn’t feeling particularly brave that day, so I slid down that yellow plastic slide with him in my lap. As we glided down and my hair got all static-y, I had the thought, Please remember this version of me.
Please remember the mother who got out the play-doh and fingerpaints when the kitchen was already an epic disaster. Please remember the mother who let you help with the dishes even though it’s so much easier to just do it myself. Please remember the mother who held it together when you mural-ed the white walls. Please remember the mother with a wide smile—not the frustrated mother with her face in her hands. Please remember the mother who watched countless shadow puppet tutorials on YouTube to up her performance and make you laugh. Please remember the mother who sacrificed a side project to spend more time with you. Please remember the mother who said “yes”whenever she could and “no” only when she absolutely had to. Please remember the mother who gave you her time instead of hoarding it for her own selfish use. Please remember the mother who held you tight when you were sad and whose daily goal was to make you belly laugh to the point of tears. Please remember the mother who welcomed yet another wet kiss even though you’d just eaten your third pickle. Please remember the mother who taught you the important things. Please remember a mother whose list of priorities always began with you.
Well, guess what? I was not that mom this week at all. I was recovering from the stomach flu and after being, erm, couch-ridden for a couple days I felt so behind on laundry and household duties that Milo slipped to the bottom of my priority list.
I ordered Chinese takeout for dinner that night (because, who has time to cook when there are about ten loads of puke laundry to do?). I felt like the fortune in my fortune cookie was mocking me a bit when I read these ironic words:
Entertaining and delightful? I was anything BUT that day. I was grumpy and impatient. I was “too busy” to read to or play with my boy even though he was starving for some attention. I felt like a crap mom. The shame kicked in and while looking into Milo’s big brown eyes I thought, If this was, heaven forbid, my last day with you, would I be at peace with how we spent it?
The answer was a definite NO.
Motherhood is that kind of roller coaster. One minute you feel like this Olympic nurturer, and the next you feel like you’re dead last in the mom game.
How I wish I could give my child the best version of me every day. Maybe some mothers out there have it figured out? But I don’t. I’m too human, too imperfect, and usually just too…..tired.
So I’ve come to two conclusions.
- God, knowing He’d send these perfect little souls to such imperfect parents, must have instilled a great sense of forgiveness in them.
- I can’t be the absolute best version of me my every waking moment, but I can try to be that version of me more often.
If I can find the strength to be the best version more than the mediocre one, then maybe, just maybe, that is the mother my children will remember. Of all my responsibilities, is this not the one worth giving my all?
One of my heroes, Rachel Jankovic, said:
“Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.”