Let’s talk about the days when I don’t win (I don’t like to say lose, it’s a bit too harsh). Those days when I forget to send five dollars for the shaved ice fundraiser, when the laundry has piled up (clean and/or dirty, because they both pile up), when the grass gets too high, or my column is due in two hours, or I forgot to fill the tank up and it’s 27 degrees this morning and gah! Why can’t I get my life together?
If you’re a mother, you’ve probably at some point had ads pop up on social media for the ever-so-popular t-shirts that read, “It’s all messy: my hair, my kids, my life,” or something of the sort. On the one hand, those shirts make me smile because this feeling is universal — all mothers have those days. Even those perfect Pinterest ones who make the rest of us look like Ms. Hannigan have those days.
But it also makes me sad. I know many mothers who fight that voice in their heads when something doesn’t go right — every single insignificant time — and that voice tells them they’re bad mothers. That’s what the voice tells me.
By the way, I’m pretty sure that voice is Regina George, who’s now a mom and haunts my dreams.
It doesn’t help when other moms judge, and lord knows I’ve been on the giving end of that. When my oldest was in ballet, I worked a job that let me get her to class 15 minutes early every time. I’d see that mother fly in a few minutes late, rush to pull her daughter’s hair up before the little girl would run into class. Then the mom would sit down, exhausted. A little voice in my head would think, “Goodness, she needs to manage her time better.”
Fast-forward to present day where I work an 8-to-5, and there have been several times I’ve rushed to gymnastics, yanking my daughter’s shoes off in the lobby so she can be the last in line to file into the gym. I sit down and take a few deep breaths … and regret those smug moments.
The truth is, I’m winning every time I get my daughter to gymnastics. I’m winning when I get food on the table, whether it’s baked chicken breast prepared by me or rotisserie chicken from the grocery deli or the grilled nuggets prepared by the magical people at Chick-Fil-A.
If I’m a mother worried about whether or not I’m a good enough mother, I’m probably doing an okay job.
There’s another meme I love that says, “Mothers, you can only pick two: Happy kids. Clean home. Your sanity.” Different days call for different choices, and I’ll be honest — happy kids and my sanity usually win out during the week. Actually, a clean home only ever wins out on the weekends.
So moms, celebrate those wins. If you’ve successfully kept a straight face instead of losing your #$%& when your teenager tells you she wants to quit dance … celebrate that win. If your 6-year-old drags wet leaves and mud through the house before you realize what she’s done and you keep your cool … celebrate that. If you remembered to turn on the dishwasher before bed, by all means celebrate the hell out of that. If you get that 100 Days of School shirt made with only one day’s notice … C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-E!
But if you didn’t manage to pack their lunch this morning and you forgot to pick up the library books or make the dentist appointment and your daughter’s favorite sweater wasn’t clean and it’s not even 9 a.m. and the whole day is already a disaster … give yourself a little grace.
And by all means, give the mother next to you some grace, as well.
* This column first appeared in The Walton Tribune on January 30, 2021 *