Monday, February 25, 2013

Repeat after me.

I am a good mom. Say it. Out loud. Unless you aren't a mom, because that would just be a little weird. 

But if you are a mom, if you are trying, if you know the overwhelming weight of mom guilt and the way it seems to crush you hard and mean within hours of birthing your first child, then please, repeat after me. 

This afternoon during Toby's nap, I fell asleep where I sat on the couch. My half eaten bowl of lunch grew cold beside me as I slept not only past the time my kids get out of school, but ten minutes past, then fifteen, then twenty. And when I woke, looked bleary eyed at my phone and realized my mistake, I jumped up with a speed and ferocity that pregnant bodies are not fit to handle. 
I made it to the school thirty minutes after the bell rang. and the pulled muscle in my groin (a muscle, I might add, I had no knowledge of having before this afternoon) made every step of the Ultimate-Mom-Walk-Of-Shame that much more excruciating. 

They were in the office, sitting by the window and chatting animatedly with the school secretary. Through my apologizing and choking back a hormonal breakdown, the secretary looked at me and said "It happens to the best of us."

And she smiled. And she waved at the boys as we walked out into the rainy afternoon. 

Here's the thing. She's right. But nobody posts a Facebook status that says "Hey! I forgot my kids at school today because I was snoring on the couch next to three loads of laundry I hadn't put away and a bowl of nutrient packed Kraft Mac and Cheese." Nobody takes a moment as they hobble up to an elementary school with a sprained crotch to snap an instagram photo of their sons looking out the office window making the "I Love You" sign with their hands. 

I can get 67 likes, 67 little instance of affirmation, for sharing some great, noteworthy moment in my life. And man, it feels good.  It feels like 67 people saying to me "You are a good mom. You are doing a good job."
So, of course, I share the good stuff. The funny stuff. I share photos without a mess in the background, I share moments when my kids' cleverness is impressive or my husband does some awesome-husband-who-digs-his-wife thing. I share snapshots from the trip to the zoo and the time we made dough ornaments and of my baby trying avacado for the first time. I let you see clips of our mornings where I am under a pile of sons in the bed and of late nights spent on a pallet on the living room floor. I show you what I am proud, as a wife and a mother, to have given my family.

But I need to tell you. That's not my whole life. 

Sometimes we have cereal for dinner. And sometimes the laundry sits in the washing machine so long it has to be washed again to get the mildew smell off. And I didn't take a single photo on Christmas morning because I just forgot. And speaking of Christmas, our elf on the shelf had multiple mornings of amnesia where he completely forgot to move. And today Jackson and Asher were the last kids to get picked up at school. 

It happens to the best of us. 

Because let me tell you what will happen if you get this wrong.  One afternoon, you will walk into an empty school parking lot with your kids thirty minutes after the bell rang and the realization will hit you that you spent the entire rushed drive to the school worrying more about what the office lady was thinking about you than what your kids were feeling. And that, my friends, is when you really feel like a crappy mom.

I want us to rewire the way we think about the standard of motherhood.
 I want us to understand that every blogger we follow, and every old high school friend who actually seems to DO the things they pin on pinterest, and every fabulous woman that seems to have it all together is actually just a real person who occasionally screws up too. 

We are not good mothers because of the things we do. We are good mothers because we love our children fiercely. Because we want to teach them and lead them onto the right path towards a meaningful life. We are good mothers because we try our hardest.
We are good mothers because we can teach our babies about forgiveness by earnestly asking for it when we fail them.

And we are good women because we can own our imperfections and use them to encourage other women to really be good moms and not just moms that do a lot of good things. 

So put your phone down. Love your children in some way that is just for them and let how much they like it be enough affirmation to want to do it again. 
Let people know when you fail because you might spare them some shame in the future.
Encourage other moms gently and remember your own ineptitudes when you are having a hard time giving grace.
Realize that even when you are late, your children are still happy to see you.
Forgive yourself.
And repeat after me.

I am a good mom.