I’ve always been uncomfortable being the center of attention on Mother’s Day.
I don’t feel I’ve done much to deserve, well, anything. When that day comes around, I’m not the mom who basks in the glow of my great job. In fact, I can easily list my failures as a mother without much prompting.
I lose my temper sometimes, and often it’s over something stupid. I have never spanked my children – I truly don’t believe in doing that, ever – but sometimes my voice can be just as harsh. So I have gotten better at taking a deep breath, and realizing most of it is not that important.
I hover too much. You might be a helicopter mom, but I’m more like Air Force One. When a project comes home from school, I rally better than any wartime general. Did someone push you on the playground? Step aside. Letting them fight the small battles, however, prepares them for the wars ahead. So I have gotten better at trusting that my children can (and will) handle most things themselves.
I don’t fully trust anyone else, on the other hand. Many of my lectures start out with “I trust you, but I don’t trust the other person.” As my children grow, I realize that they will make their own decisions on who to befriend and date. So I have gotten better at knowing I’ve given them all the emotional armor I can with which to make those decisions.
I have expectations that not everyone meets. I do laundry constantly. One time one child – who shall remain nameless – didn’t put her laundry away for a week. I got irritated, and then I just piled it up on the window seat. The pile was nearly her height by the time it got put away, but it got put away. So I have gotten better at letting the small stuff go.
I hear my own words come out of my daughters’ mouths. Our house has few filters, and everyone is allowed to speak their minds. Every now and then I hear them say something like only I can. I like the idea of raising strong, confident women, and I hope I don’t unduly influence their view of the world. So I have gotten better at letting them decide what their opinions are rather than mimicking mine.
I have few domestic skills. I would be perfectly happy eating cereal for dinner every night, but I’ve had to learn how to cook food that pleases most of my family. I can do basic alterations but will never be making prom dresses. So I have gotten better at realizing everyone has different skills and strengths, and that there is no shame in paying others to do something you can’t or won’t do.
I think my parenting theme is “getting better.” My husband and I often talk about how we each try to do better than our parents did. Not because they did horribly, they did the best they could with the skills and opportunities they had. We have more opportunity, and an easier life, than they did. We’ve gotten past judging how they parented. Instead, we realize they did their best. And now it is our turn.
I don’t think I’ll ever be “Mom of the Year.” I won’t even be “Most Improved Mom.” Maybe someday, if I am lucky, I will win “Tried Her Best Mom.”