Well, congratulations!! Give yourself a pat on the back, Momma! You are doing something right to just be okay!
Mothering is hard. It’s the journey that seems to be full of scary, steep mountains when the kids are little. From the round the clock physical care of our precious, fragile baby, to 24/7 supervision of our rambunctious toddler’s well being, to the constant concern for the kindergartener’s social, emotional, and spiritual development, mothering appears to be a nonstop responsibility that never ends.
Then older moms tell us, “Wait until the kids get older. Instead of taking a physical toll on you, they’ll take an emotional toll.” Sure enough, at the primary education stage, the kids don’t need as much physical care or supervision, and moms everywhere find ourselves enjoying sending our kids off to school. They are growing up so fast, sniff, sniff. Although the mountains don’t appear as often or as steep at this stage, moms have to watch for cliffs and boobie traps. Toddler meltdowns turn to periodic emotional outbursts. Cries from a fall become wails of injustice! Quiet compliance give way to complaints of unfairness and sorrows. The kids are growing up too fast but at times not fast enough!
Moms are all too happy to enroll our kids in all kinds of after school programs and weekend sporting events at this stage. The ruse is that these extracurricular activities serve to nurture their social skills, athletic prowess, or stimulate intellectual growth, yada, yada, yada. But everyone knows it’s really because our fragile, precious hearts need a break from all the complaints, the criticisms, the screaming and crying.
But then small, lanky middle schoolers become towering, adult appearing teens. Moms start to realize that some things are just not going to be perfect. Our visions of running this race to win become more of a mixed bag of “I don’t want it to be over so soon” and “Are they finally graduating for sure?!” In fact, there are no more bright eyed visions at this stage. We are jaded, spent, drained, barely surviving and wondering how anyone with two or more kids can manage to thrive?
Sure, the kids are doing well academically. They have a clean record, avoid drugs, and to the best of your knowledge, any incriminating acts. They even have friends and are learning how to drive a car. But their clothes still stink. Their bedrooms aren’t any better. They don’t eat healthy or get enough sleep, in your humble opinion. They start projects that don’t seem to ever finish. They have mood swings that make you feel this valley is endlessly deep. And you are not good enough for them. You can’t solve all their problems. In fact, you just won’t understand. And you’re not cool enough to be in a picture with them. Where is that lovely mountain you have to look forward to?
Can you see why moms sleep in late some mornings? Who cares if we send little ones to school in mismatched outfits, or heaven forbid day-old clothes? It’s not like you’ve never heard moms scream, “I don’t care! You can go live with the Jones, then!” Who’s going to judge if we say a cuss word or two, drink a little too much wine, hang out with the ladies too much? We are the world’s most okayest moms, and that’s that.
Adjectives like “extraordinary,” “exceptional,” and “amazing” are great, but rarely used to describe moms, at least not by her family members when she’s still alive. Unless they are public figures. And when these overrated descriptions are used, everyone knows there’s always a catch. Watch for the other shoe to fall. Watch for her humanity to be revealed in a tell all book. Maybe Netflix will do a documentary of her interesting behind the scenes life fifty years later.
So the rest of us just say, “No thanks. I’d rather keep my world’s okayest mom status.”
My friend, Tina, recently posted on her Facebook this picture of a new t-shirt she found. She captioned it, “Doing my best to be an okay mom. I saw this shirt at the nutcracker market and needless to say it was sold out, so many moms wanted it. It was a great laugh for all of us.” Do you want this t-shirt too, sweet Momma?