So I bumped into an old college friend of mine as I dropped of my eldest to school the other day, and we got to chatting. She’s a member of a moms’ list (googlegroup) I started a while back and she paid me the most beautiful compliment – she called me, of all people, Super Mom! and proceeded to throw in a number of other complements I really didn’t deserve. My initial reaction was overwhelming gratitude because, really, how many people ever notice your efforts as a parent and verbalize them to you. It was nice – really nice – and incredibly humbling.
My second, lasting reaction – the one that kept playing on an infinite loop on the car ride home – was pure guilt. I felt like a complete fraud. The reality is that more times than not, when it comes to parenting, I feel like I’m drowning. I yell – a lot. Something I rarely did pre-parenthood. I laugh – sometimes at things I really shouldn’t laugh at (has anyone seen Jibs in his current “NO” tirades???” His faces are priceless! and it KILLS me when I can’t keep a straight face). Sometimes, I give up and give in. Not often – but my kids have had lollipops and ice cream when they should have been eating oatmeal and bananas. Sometimes I hide. Sometimes the television is my best friend. And sometimes I cry…
To be completely honest, on an average day, I have no idea what I’m doing with my kids. Yes, I have read a bunch of books that tell me how I “should” parent – and in my ongoing attempt to figure out what the heck to do with my munchkins – I’ve even listened to a lecture or 2. Everything seems so clean and easy and makes so much SENSE coming out of someone else’s mouth, but then you almost kill yourself stepping on a die-cast Lightening McQueen (you know, the one you told them to put away 10 times!) or you find playdoh in the DVD player and reality kicks in. Applying those logical, rational words to these irrational, unpredictable, impulsive little beings seems like the greatest feat known to man. Over time you slowly start to understand (for your own sanity) that the ultimate goal of this perfect little child that these books have you striving for doesn’t really exist. The reality is, you have less control over things than you think – especially “things” that come in the form of a toddler and a 5-year-old. No matter how hard I may try (or wish), they are not perfect and I am even less so. And that was a hard pill for me to swallow. I tried SO hard to mold “perfect” children – and I used to take it personally – that their lack of decorum, despite all my efforts, was a result of bad parenting – a reflection of my own shortcomings and failures. I look at my children at dinner and think, “OH MY GOD – I may have to endure a lifetime of bad table manners!” despite every effort to get them through the meal relatively clean. This is my reality – I’ve come to terms with it (and have learned to look away at times 🙂 ). But for a while, it really ate at me (no pun intended :)).
The one thing I am certain of is – my love for my kids – and my ability to worry over pretty much everything that relates to them :). Those are constants. Everything else is a variable, depending on the time and circumstance and how much sleep I’ve gotten the night before. I wish I could implement more of what I’ve read and learned but most of the time – I’m pretty lousy at it.
So…if Super Mom = Perfect, then…there is no doubt that I don’t fit the bill. But…if it’s about the struggle – about loving your children so much that you don’t mind all the bumps and bruises, and failures and the occasional successes as you stroll down the path of parenthood…then maybe she wasn’t completely wrong 🙂
So to all the imperfect Super Moms out there…have a great day – and rest assured – you’re not alone. 🙂