Just tonight, over wine, my best girlfriend and I were discussing parenthood. Both of us—veteran single moms—filling both mom and dad roles for our collective four boys. We often trade stories of rushing from work to daycare to home. Strapping little ones into booster seats and highchairs and flinging food at them as fast as possible. Trying to keep them happy with apple slices, yogurt, cheese cubes and so on. Dying to get out of work clothes. Needing to sift through the mail in case there was some type of check (hello, rebates!). And for heaven’s sake, can I go to the bathroom alone?
Perfect Parenting Isn’t Real
We often talk about our mistakes (and there were many). But now that our kids are over 18, we have the space and the hindsight to realize that we were doing the very best we could. So we no longer chide ourselves because we weren’t perfect moms. We no longer focus on the laundry lists of mistakes. Instead, we say, “Hey, we showed up, EVERY SINGLE DAY. We made sure our boys were fed, got their shots and check-ups, ran around in the sunshine and learned to be good men.” And now we see, clear as crystal, that we may not have done everything right, but we sure did enough of the right things right. And that is worth celebrating.
I realize that if 100 moms were polled, every woman would admit that they did not do EVERYTHING right during their teen’s growing up years. Because, honestly, how could anyone perform this awe-inspiring, intensely exhausting role correctly? We are perfectly imperfect humans, figuring this parenting thing out as we go.
Everyone Makes Mom Mistakes
There are plenty of books on the subject of how to be a better parent, but honestly, you don’t know until you are knee deep in the muck what it means and feels like. At those moments, you assess each situation and make your best decision at the time. Later you can see if you were right, later you can learn and if needed, ask forgiveness, learn a lesson and move on.
So my directive here is to tell you this: you’re not a perfect mom; you’re going to screw up. Sometimes, you’ll be a huge, colossal failure in the department of parenthood and you know what? That’s okay. We’ve all been there and many of us have even made those same ridiculous mistakes more than once. But the good news is that we climbed back on the horse, we started fresh the next day and we didn’t quit. Once we truly understand that no one parents “correctly” all the time, that there is no “perfect mom”, we can cut ourselves some slack and stop the self flagellation. Instead, let’s love our kids and love ourselves and leave lots and lots of space for our mistakes.