I remember when I was pregnant with Pickle, one of the big trends at the time (and it seems like it hasn’t relented in the past 8 years) are these lists of “things no one tells you about motherhood” or various regurgitations of the same crap over and over. Some of them are things that we probably should never verbalize (I’m still traumatized by references to pooping oneself during labor) and those that we can’t possibly need anyone to confirm because we have common sense (you will go a day without showering because you will choose sleep over hygiene).
And lord knows, if you’re a parent, you have countless stories you can tell about doing it wrong. And from when you got it totally and miserably, COMPLETELY wrong and you spent the next few days beating yourself up about it. I can think back to some of my Mother of the Year (MOTY) Award winners from years past and laugh now, but at the time they made me feel horrible. For instance, when Pickle got frustrated with her toy broom and dustpan and said, “DAMMIT!” in her sweet and perfect 2 year old voice – and a perfect imitation of her mother. Or when I yelled at her out of frustration and made her cry. Or the fact that that last one has happened more than once.
HOWEVER! Sometimes, there are these moments when you have the PERFECT parenting moment. These moments of cosmic alignment when your patience, the advice you’ve googled late at night, your parents voices, and ALL THE GODS THAT HAVE EVER BEEN PRAYED TO IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE come together and it all works exactly as you planned it to.
I had one of those the other day, and I actually took the time to celebrate myself for a moment. My moment with Pickle was nothing special, and in a few weeks I won’t even remember that it happened. I was able to tell her that she was being a jerk in a kind and loving way, get her to recognize this without crushing her self esteem, and get her to extend a gracious apology all without a sobbing meltdown. This is damn near an impossible feat, and I was freaking thrilled it went down as I had planned it out in my mind.
I don’t say this to gloat, but to point out that we probably all have SO MANY moments where we get it right. Our kids aren’t forming militias to take us down in droves, so we can’t be doing too badly, and most of the time they actually seem to love us! I think we should stop tormenting ourselves about the few missteps we make and live to celebrate the small victories we have every single day.
I think that’s the real problem… not that we have those moments where we think we made a poor parenting choice, but that we let THOSE moments take up too much of our life. We obsess over how we could handle them differently, we talk about them with our friends, we post about them on social media. But I know I rarely take a moment to tell myself, “Hell yeah, Erin! You rocked that mothering crap today!!”
So my new goal for myself is to take some time each day to think about all the things that I did RIGHT. I’m raising a daughter, and I want her to be a confident and capable woman. I am her primary example, and as such, I owe it to her to show her that I take pride in myself, and in my abilities as her mother. When she thinks back on what “right” looks like, it is my example that she will follow – as a woman, as a wife, as a mother… and I want her to see me accurately. I want her to see my flaws, my mistakes, and my regrets – but what is more important, is that I want her to feel that she has a mom that believed in herself and made everything work, that through work, love, and determination things happen – and that she can do anything because she has an example to follow.
So the next time I think about giving myself a sarcastic MOTY award for one of my failings, instead I’m going to stop and laugh and remind myself that none of us have it all together, but I’m not doing that bad at all.