I just spent twenty minutes searching Facebook to a link for a mom blogger opportunity I had seen that I forgot to mark as “saved.” I went back and forth, back and forth, and just couldn’t find it. I Googled it. Nothing. Awesome, another wasted opportunity, I thought. What if that was my big chance? All because I forgot to click “save”?
This is what I do. I push and push and push myself and then can’t forgive myself when something falls through the cracks. When I can’t be everything to everyone at every minute. When I feel like I’m not good enough at feeding LM the right foods, or teaching him enough skills, or getting him on a better sleeping schedule. When I feel like I need to pitch more stories, promote my work more, submit more, write more. When I think about how someone else is a better writer than me, a better mom than me, a better friend than me, a better wife than me.
I find the smallest thing — so what that I didn’t save a FB link? Is it the end of the world? — and turn it into something major, as if I’ve missed out on the greatest thing to come my way ever.
This weekend is Mother’s Day. I’m not doing anything special, as far as I know. Maybe my husband has something planned. Maybe not. But it shouldn’t really matter, because that’s just looking for more outside validation, for someone else to tell me I’m doing a good enough job.
What I really need is to tell that to myself.
I need to forgive myself my little faux pas and flaws. I need to accept that I’m not going to be able to keep every ball in the air. Some are bound to drop.
This is OK.
I know we’ve all heard about “mom guilt” and how we have to accept that we can’t be the perfect mother. I know that rationally. But emotionally, I’m still struggling. I don’t think I quite believe that I am good enough. I focus on every mistake I make and blow off my successes. I’m doing it now, for God’s sake — I’m critiquing myself for my habit of critiquing myself!
Where does it end?
Maybe some moms have figured out how to get off the merry-go-round of guilt. Maybe they’ve managed to side-step the downward vortex of perfection seeking. But I feel like I’m being sucked in, and I’m drowning with the pressure of it all.
So, this Mother’s Day I need to stop. Just stop. At least for one day allow myself not to be perfect. And what’s more, to not even attempt to be perfect. Just have total acceptance of myself. As a mother, as a wife, as a writer, as a person.
I can’t be the only one who feels this way, right? Who feels like it’s just all too much and I can’t keep my head above water? OK, so I know I have additional challenges: LM’s hearing loss and everything that goes along with it (don’t even get me started on fighting with the school district about preschool). Trying to have another child (still in limbo on that one). These are not things that all other moms have to deal with.
Other moms also have housecleaners and gardeners and money to redecorate and nannies to watch their kids so they can go to the gym more than once a week and lose that extra 15 pounds they’ve been carrying since they had a baby and just can’t seem to get rid of. Maybe they have huge houses and swimming pools and finished basements with movie rooms. Maybe if they do have deaf children they can afford to move to the rich town where the school for the deaf is so they can be in the right school district and not have to fight to make sure their kid gets the best education.
Wait, I’m doing it again, aren’t I?
Stop comparing yourself. Just stop. Some other moms will always have more than you — but some will also have less. Much less.
Ugh, so you’re saying I’m an awful person for wanting a bigger house because other moms are living in poverty? I’m so selfish.
Yes, you are selfish. But it’s OK to be selfish. Everyone is selfish.
No they’re not.
Well maybe not everybody, but it’s a natural reaction in life to want more, isn’t it? Some people just have this drive in them, which is good because it propels them to achieve things. But it’s also bad because it never ends. When you achieve a goal, you just set a new one. You think you can reach the top of the mountain, but it just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
So what do I do?
I don’t know, I guess it’s about finding balance. A balance between accepting your life and striving for more. Between being happy with what you have and recognizing that it’s human nature to feel bad about what you don’t. To realize that everyone has their hardships in life, and so you just can’t compare. You are not perfect. They are not perfect.
This is what I’m trying to give myself this Mother’s Day. Permission to not be perfect, to want to be perfect, to feel bad about wanting to be perfect, to feel good about striving for perfection, to recognize it’s not necessary to strive for perfection.
I’m going to try to see myself though LM’s eyes. Through my husband’s eyes and my family’s eyes and my friend’s eyes.
I’m not a perfect mom. But I’m a good enough mom.
What gifts are you giving yourself for Mother’s Day?
Much has been made about what moms really want for Mother’s Day: sleep. It’s true. I’d like the same thing, especially since LM has been up every night this week, multiple times for multiple hours. It’s exhausting. We’ve removed one side of his crib (Parenting fail: We neglected to purchase the toddler bed conversion set, which has now been discontinued) and blocked most of it off with the play yard, leaving a small opening for him to get in and out.
Last night was our trial run of this new arrangement. The results were mixed. I found it easier to put him down, and thus there was less chance for wake-ups. I could also lie with him in the bed, which is a lot more comfortable for me. I could even sleep there if I wanted (I don’t). But he still woke up, and didn’t crawl back in bed as I hoped he would. One late-night excursion to check on him after he went quiet out of sight of the video monitor had me creeping down the pitch-black hall and peering around the corner into his room. I found him sitting at the gate in his doorway staring blankly into space – until he saw me and resumed screaming.
I have yet to figure out what’s causing his sleep troubles (teeth? anxiety from the child care room at the gym? nightmares? some developmental brain thing? an alien takeover?), but it has not been a fun week, for me or Foggy Daddy. Today, though, was a beautiful spring day, and my mom group had our weekly stroller walk. LM was asleep in his stroller (finally!) so I got to have some adult conversation (which, admittedly, was mostly about our kids) as we enjoyed the nice weather. A day like that makes me feel grateful for all I have, especially for LM. It makes me glad I can finally celebrate Mother’s Day for myself, after so many years of struggle. It makes me take stock of what I really want, even more than sleep. And honestly, all I want for Mother’s Day is what I already have: a family to spend it with.
So that said, this is what I envision for my perfect Mother’s Day:
– FD lets me sleep in. He takes care of LM while simultaneously making homemade pancakes, which he will bring to me in bed.
– I sleep as late as I want. We do not “have to” be anywhere.
– We spend the rest of the day just the three of us.
– We find some kind of outdoor space – a park or arboretum – and have a relaxing picnic. Live music or some kind of event would be ideal.
– We come home to order dinner (I don’t want FD to have to cook again, which would also saddle me with watching LM) and relax on the deck as LM plays.
Sound like a plan? What is your ideal Mother’s Day?