I saw it as soon as we started walking down the school corridor. It was back to school night and Mrs. B, the second-grade teacher, was explaining their recent project. The children had made posters demonstrating a value that their family had taught them.
I was surrounded by “Be kind to others”, “Always tell the truth”, “I can do anything if I try”. Wedged in the middle, written in bright pink highlighter was my daughter’s poster “Don’t eat like a pig” by Ryan O’Rourke.
I was mortified. How could this be the one thing she remembered? I am sure I had imparted other words of wisdom to her. I mean yes, I admit, I did tell my 7-year-old daughter not to eat like a pig. This was because she did eat like a pig, and I thought she should know how not to eat like a pig. The end.
If I am being honest this was not my first “bad mom” moment. As a matter of fact, I have had more then I like to admit.
I didn’t follow the school bus on my daughter’s first day of kindergarten. I went home, locked the door and enjoyed my cup of coffee in exhilarating silence. I have dodged lunch duty on the pretense I had a doctor’s appointment. When in reality it was the last day of the “Friends and Family” sale at Bloomingdales. I threw out my daughter’s slime when she was at school. I was relieved when I didn’t get picked for the fifth-grade field trip.
And there was that one time I left my youngest, Maggie, at the field after her sister’s soccer game. Of course, I turned around and immediately went back….as soon as another Mom called me fifteen minutes later.
The truth is after 19 years I am still winging this motherhood thing. I wish I was more like June Cleaver. I wish being their Mom was enough for me and that sometimes I didn’t feel unfulfilled and consumed by motherhood. I know I should feel grateful. But I need a life outside of my children.
Despite how all of this may sound, I love my kids and am extremely blessed to be their Mom. When I go into their rooms at night and catch them sleeping, I physically feel my heart ache. When they succeed I am ecstatic and when they are hurting I suffer.
I have realized that being a good mom is more than being the girl scout leader. It is about opening a can of soup when they are sick, hugging them when they are sad and listening to them when they need someone to talk to. The crazy thing is despite all my “bad mom” tendencies my kids are actually fine. Somehow they are on their way to becoming amazing young women. Don’t get me wrong, they are teenagers. There is fighting, slammed doors and tears.
For me being a mom doesn’t have to be all-inclusive. I do not have to view the world solely through their needs. It’s okay for me to have other identities. I can be a good Mom and a friend, daughter, wife and writer. I have come to the realization that I don’t have to try to be the perfect Mom, just loving them is enough.