Today, I have a guest post from one of my favorite bloggers, Michelle from What I’ve Learned for Now. She is one of those writers that instantly makes you laugh, feel like you aren’t alone, and gives you candid glimpses into her life raising two little boys. She is also very good at leaving comments that make you feel like you’re not as crazy as you think you are. I like her a lot, and I’m so glad I get to share her with you today! She’s one of those people that I’ve never met, but would easily call a kindred spirit. If I talked like Anne Shirley, that is. Enjoy!
I’m very lucky today to be guest posting over at Meredith’s place, Perfection Pending. In this vast and obscure blogging world, it is so rare that you find another writer who you connect with through their blog, and even more rare when that person makes such an effort to connect with her readers in other ways. I’ve found this in Meredith, as I’m sure many, many others have as well, so when she was looking for fellow bloggers to guest post for her Be Brave Series, I immediately jumped at the chance to help her out. Please go visit her and learn about how confused and boring she is and how well she does at letting her kids just be.
Thanks for having me today.
“If you were a ‘perfect’ mother, your children would have no room to grow”.
Gosh, I miss my therapist. Why did she have to retire? She only looked 78 years old.
I was pregnant with my first son, and despite having planned his conception and wanting him more than anything else in the world, I was feeling terrified that I wasn’t ready to be a parent and wasn’t going to be a very good mother. She said those words and I have held on to them ever since.
My boys are going to be giants.
We all want to be the perfect mother to our children. I have yet to meet someone who wanted to bear children for the sole purpose of messing them up. On the contrary, we set out to fix all of the horrific, reprehensible and obvious mistakes our own parents made. “Thank goodness”, we think to ourselves, “we are so much smarter an self-aware than they are and won’t make the same mistakes, right? I mean, seriously, how hard is it???”
And then we have babies and quickly realize, the joke is on us.
Because I swear, I mess up on a daily basis. I scold one kid because I think he’s the one who spilled water all over the kitchen floor, only to realize later that the dishwasher is leaking. Oopsy. (Of course you can have ice cream for dinner honey!)
For the 77th time, my kids interrupt my phone call and I get snippy with them, only to see that all they wanted to do was give me a picture they drew of us on the swing set. (Oh, thank you delivery man, just set the Lifetime of Guilt over there on the dining room table please).
It took me a year and a half of battling with my youngest son Bozo over his pants for me to finally buy him a handful of some soft sweatpants, therein putting the fights to a complete stop. Ugh! Why didn’t I think of this 18 months ago!?!?!?!
With plants, there is a process called Phototropism, in which they naturally and innately turn toward the sun. If conditions aren’t perfect, they find a way to foster their own growth. cacti know water is scarce and so conserve it for months at a time.
This is what I think of when my therapist told me that if I were the “perfect” mother, my children would have no room to grow. They would not tap into their own innate strengths and flourish.
I’m wondering if messing up is actually a huge part of being a parent, a necessary part of being a parent, although one that I have a hard time accepting. Because in a nutshell, we are simply humans trying to raise other humans, and it’s a messy, messy business.
I am so far from the perfect mother I had set out to be. In the beginning, when I would lose my patience and yell or just get snippy with them, I would beat myself up all night long. I would peek in on them sleeping, looking like little angels, and determine that I am in fact the worse mom ever. How could I possibly lose my cool with the little cherub who is sleeping in his favorite angry bird shirt, while wearing hockey gloves and clutching his baby doll?
Now, a few years later, I’m a bit easier on myself. A bit. I’m learning that as a human being, I have my limits. And I’m learning that it is, in fact, good for my children to realize that I have my limits. I’m not some emotionless android who can take years and years of tantrums and messes and back-talk and not get fed up once in a while, or who can respond to any given situation in the perfectly calm and patient way that I pictured myself doing. I’m a mom who didn’t get a whole lot of sleep last night, who works at a job 4 days a week, needs to remember to sign the permission slip to the field trip next week and to pack their lunches and re-schedule their dentist appointments and try to find a sitter for Saturday night and still tries hard to read to them each night before bed.
While I’m slowly but surely getting better at accepting my flaws as a human being and a mother, it’s not without some hard work. I still try hard everyday to be more patient, take more time to play UNO with them (even though I’ve explained that you cannot put a Blue 5 on top of a Red7!?!?), to hold on to my own anxiety and not lay it in their lap (like I did here), and to let them know that it’s okay that they’re not perfect either.
It takes a lot of bravery to be a mother. Especially a mother who doesn’t shy away from acknowledging her flaws, but tries to accept them and do the best she can each day.
Michelle is a mom of two young boys who are incredibly good at imitating the sound a chain saw makes. During dinner. When things are quiet, she sits at her computer writing all that she is learning about life as a wife, mother and how to be aT-Rex who pretends to eat squealing little boys. To get a glimpse of what she’s really like, read about her fear of blood and being a daddy’s girl.