I’m a good mom.
It doesn’t always happen. You log too many minutes on Facebook, dinner is late and you tell your littlest to find the biggest to help her spell something special in her notebook for daddy. You aren’t always attentive and you can’t always care; coloring pages scribbled on, Minecraft buildings shaped like Minions, chorus fundraisers and field trip forms. You say, Mhmm too often and Yes, but LATER. You try to finish one more email, pay one more bill, watch one more video on Facebook before getting them out of the tub. Did they even wash? Is there soap in there? Oh well.
Your day has murdered your soul.
Job, errands, arguments, finances, health problems, mustard on things that are nowhere near the kitchen – how could you possibly make time for folding laundry this late? The kids will wear wrinkled polos tomorrow. There are entire days that pass by without even knowing. I find myself falling asleep with the lights on, a book with pages mushed and spine stretched beside me. Next to the remotes, next to my glasses, on top of a pillow, under a blanket and with an action figure. I sometimes wake up in the clothes I wore yesterday. GASP, even my bra, I KNOW!
And when I wake up, I can’t remember really giving one moment of VALUE to any one of my kids at all the day previous. Not one single “Okay, I’ll be blonde barbie.” No real analysis of an actually incredible short-fiction about the survivors of a Jewish migration boat. Just a “that’s great, babe”. There’s no real affection for yet another nonsense song sung at dinner while sopping up milk with a dirty dish towel or fetching a fork or letting a dog out to poop. (Dinner? Really? Every time.)
As parents, we adjust and learn to divide and conquer. Divide our time to conquer our days. Divide ourselves into different roles, some of us even serving as mother and father. Some of us working from home, being employee and employer. Most days it’s an accomplishment just to fall into bed wearing actual pajamas when it’s all over. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving yourself a high five for keeping everyone alive. Or for remembering to pay the water bill before they shut it off. There is no shame in thanking yourself silently for going the distance and making vegetables, although nobody is going to put a damn one in their mouth tonight and-you-know-it. And there is most certainly no shame in rewarding yourself with closet candy for eating your own vegetables.
Do it! High fives all around for being a good parent today!
But, I know you know what it feels like to add in one special thing to those days stuffed to the gills with life; to let go of the email, or the registration, or the stop for a green veg at the store before heading home. And in place of the daily thing, you do something different, like make a sign for your kid and show up at his school while he runs laps during a fundraiser you’ve been cursing for two weeks. Or make sandwiches and popcorn (okay just popcorn) for dinner so you’ll have time to braid your daughter’s hair AND paint her nails after bath time. You skip a shower you desperately need to watch your kiddo draw Manga for twenty minutes with her new markers. You’re always a good parent. Even when you think you’re a bad one. You’re a good laundry folder, teacher, cheerleader, job-seeker, bread-winner, parent every day, but some days, pushing pause on a good moment gives you time to have a great one.
The to-do list of a parent never gets smaller. I’m not even going to try and list more things a parent attempts to accomplish on a regular basis. If you’re reading here, you already know. And if you’re not a parent, I certainly don’t want to be responsible for scaring you away from ever becoming one, with a long list of weird shit mixed in with regular people shit. Parents have weird shit on their lists.
Sometimes we get so concerned with being a good parent and ticking things off that list, we miss out on moments that make us great. Stuff we don’t put on the list, find that time. More accurately, MAKE that time. Stop gooding for just a bit and start greating. It not only means the absolute world to those little humans (and not so little), but it feeds the hungry soul. A minute of great can last for days and even if there are days in between, or weeks, it’s never a bad time. It’s never too late to be a little great. Oh, a rhyme. (insert unicorn shitting rainbows here)
In fact, have you accidentally been great today? This week? It’s easy for great to go unnoticed because it’s often disguised as dropping the ball. And how is that fair? When you start to feel like you’re letting the world down…stop and say, “Wait? Is this actually being great?”
Are you eating frozen yogurt for dinner because you couldn’t stand to cook in a messy kitchen? Or messy-up a clean kitchen? Well take a look at the faces shoving yogurt and cookie crumbles into their front holes. Chances are, they are grinning and laughing and growing those weird lower lip chocolate beard things that don’t make any sense. Instead of laughing with them, are you worried about the sugar rush at bedtime? (okay maybe you should be a little concerned about that, but still) You’re being great. Snap out of it and give yourself some credit.
It’s not fair to give good mom all the credit all the time. Sure she payed the bills. Sure nobody ran out of toilet paper this month. Woo. But man, great mom showed up when she didn’t really have to. She put her computer away and played basketball (badly) with you in the street. Great mom sat on the floor in the kitchen and let the dishes get crusty so she could help spell “daddy-I miss-you-and-will-you-come-back very-soon-HEART.” Letter-by-letter in a tiny spiral notebook with a Sharpie they shouldn’t have been able to reach.
There’s no doubt, I will live my whole life never knowing if I am any closer to figuring out how to be a good mom all the time. But today I know I was great.
Hey you, you are a good mom and you are Kicking Motherhood In The Ass