Something has occurred in my household numerous times over the last….well, I’m not even sure how long…as long as I remember, I guess. I’ll be snuggling my children on the couch, or at bedtime, or we’ll be sitting down to supper, or we’ll be doing nothing in particular, and my children, my son or my daughter, will look at me and declare, “You’re the best mom ever.” The statement throws me off every single time. I usually respond with, “Well I do love you with all of my heart.” I don’t say thank you, I don’t own that title, I don’t feel deserving…instead, I feel a kind of guilt sweep over me, thinking “No, no I’m the not the best mom ever. I could be so much better.”
Have you ever felt that? That feeling that you’re being credited with something that just isn’t yours to own…and by the person/people that you love more than anything else on this planet. Those people that you owe everything to because they bring you the most happiness, the most contentment, the most joy. A feeling of shame because you can’t or won’t do more for them. That feeling, that shameful, guilty feeling is the one that sweeps over me, when my beautiful children look to me, thinking that I am someone that I am just not.
That feeling, that shameful, guilty feeling is the one that sweeps over me, when my beautiful children look to me, thinking that I am someone that I am just not.
Here are the things that keep me from owning that “Best Mom” status…these are the things that make me feel guilty and less than:
- I don’t listen. I don’t listen to my children. I started a tradition a long time ago with my children for them to tell me each day about their high and low moment. I did this out of fear that they would grow up and not talk to me about their lives, so I thought I would open the communication channels early. Let me tell you, talking is not a problem in my house. My children talk all the time, non-stop, every moment…about sports cars, YouTube videos, music, video games, friends, teachers, cell phones, animals…you get the idea. And some times, more times than I care to admit, I nod my head without listening, because I can’t take it all in…knowing full and well a day will come when their chatter won’t fill every moment of my life. Knowing I shouldn’t take this for granted, but still, I don’t listen.
- I feed them crap. Not literal crap, but you know…poptarts, cereal, Beefaroni, Ramen Noodles, lunchables. I know these are not healthy choices…far from organic or natural…definitely not fresh or nutritious. My children deserve healthy, wholesome, nutritious food, and I try to get those things to them them regularly. But I also just settle for feeding them the instant, easy junk because, well because…it’s instant and easy. No other excuses. Along these same lines, I also don’t fix my kids’ lunch for school. No fancy, pretty bento lunches for the Hafele children. My daughter actually asked to bring lunch to school the other day, and I just said “No” for no other reason than I don’t want to fix my kids’ school lunch every single evening…or ever.
- I haven’t exercised with my kids for a long time. In the past, I have had great parenting moments where my kids and I ride bikes,go for runs, walk to the park and do all of these great active things together. But I’ve not had one of those moments for a long time. For a while because I was finishing my MBA, and now because I’m pregnant and out of shape, but they deserve to have a mom who gets down and plays with them on their level. The fact that I can’t and haven’t done that, makes me feel nothing short of horrible.
- I love to go to work. I love my job and my career and working. Even if I had the option to stay home with my children financially, I don’t think that I would. I love spending time with my children, but my career is fulfilling for me as an unique human being. I feel challenged by and excited for my career in a way that is 100% my own, and I’m not willing to give that up. I grew up in a household where my mother stayed home from work to raise me, so this is a tough one for me. Don’t my children deserve that same focus and dedication? Does it make me a bad mom that I’m not willing to sacrifice my professional aspirations to be a full time mom?
- I don’t remind them to brush their teeth every single night, I forget to give my daughter her allergy medicine some mornings, I don’t always remember to clean their ears or trim their nails, my daughter’s finger nails aren’t painted, she doesn’t have ear rings in, I don’t watch my son practice ball in our yard, I don’t craft them homemade items, I don’t scrapbook for them, I never finished either of their baby books, I fail at turning in their paperwork 5/10 times, I watch movies with them that other parents would think are too mature for them, I listen to music with them that has cuss words in it, I feel irritated when I have to stop my podcast in the morning because my bathroom has been overrun by my children, sometimes I just want a break and then I miss them like crazy when they’re gone, some days I don’t want to do tuck-ins at bedtime, sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the responsibility, and 100,000,000 other things I that do wrong or at least not perfectly.
This list could go on forever. But the truth is that I love my children deeply and wildly. I thank God for them every single day, even when I’m tired and overwhelmed. And for all of my faults, I truly do the best that I can. My logical side tells me that God made these children just for me, He is all-knowing, and He would never put them in my hands if I wasn’t the best mom for them.
My logical side tells me that God made these children just for me, He is all-knowing, and He would never put them in my hands if I wasn’t the best mom for them.
So certainly, I am not perfect, and the older I get the less I try for perfection. But maybe through the laughter we share, through the hugs and the kisses, through the silly faces and dances, through the homecooked meals and dinners at the table that I do get accomplished, through setting an example for them of what hard work and passion looks like, through dedication and devotion to their father, through forgiveness and understanding, through real conversations about the joyous and hard things in life, through moments in the garden, through movie nights on the couch, through family fun days…maybe through these moments, I deserve the best mom status. Best for them, my children, my gift, my greatest accomplishment. Maybe next time I hear those words, I can feel pride and not shame. Maybe I can say thank you, smile, and let them know they are the best children too.
Maybe I can say thank you, smile, and let them know they are the best children too.
Maybe we all can do just that…and take pride that our children see us as we actually are, not in the flawed ways that we see ourselves.