I often feel inadequate as a mum and think of her: the other mum, the mum I “planned to be,” the mum I think I “should be,” the mum I never will be.
I want to be a mum who wakes up and has time to shower and make herself look not just presentable, but pretty. But I will never be that mum. I will most likely never look pulled together, with blown-dry hair and accessorized outfits — because while I wish to look that way, I don’t have the time or energy. I will always have my hair in a braid, a hole in my jeans, a two-seasons-ago shirt and a belt that is… well, more than two seasons old. And that is OK. Because my kids think I am pretty just the way I am.
I want to be a mum who puts aside her to-do list to get down and play on the floor with her boys. But I will never be that mum. I will most likely never roughhouse with them or play freeze tag as much as they like because I much prefer, and take great joy in, watching them play and have fun with each other. And that is OK. Because I will still hug them, kiss them and tell them how proud and happy I am to see them playing together.
I want to be a mum who knows how to make crazy LEGO buildings, how to chase after dragons, how to play Star Wars. But I will never be that mum. I will most likely never build a LEGO creation the way my husband does. I will never spontaneously chase after dragons with a laser or think to build a fort. And that is OK. Because I will make ice cream cones out of Play-Doh with my boys and chase after falling leaves and snowflakes with them.
I want to be a mum who feels like she knows how to be a mum to boys — who doesn’t think that if she had girls, she would know how to be a better mother because she would know how to play tea and dolls and all things “girlie.” But I will never be that mum. I will most likely never be a mum who truly feels like she knows how to be a mum to boys. And, even if I had girls, I don’t think I would feel like I knew how to be a mum to them either, because knowing how to “be a mum” is not just about knowing what kind of activities my kids like to do, it is about knowing what makes my kids happy, what makes them sad, how I can help them, how I can protect them. Knowing how to be a mum is a daily learning process and I’ll never be fully caught up. And that is OK. Because I have already mastered the most important lesson: how to love my boys.
I want to be a mum who plans fun outings ahead of time, who plans play dates… who plans, period. But I will never be that mum. I will most likely never plan ahead, because it overwhelms me and because, well, I am just not good at managing my time. And that is OK. Because I love to stay home and just talk with my kids and I love to ask them questions about their day, to answer their questions, to hear their side conversations.
I want to be a mum who cooks well-balanced meals that my pediatrician would approve of. Scratch that. I want to be a mum who cooks anything besides macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets. But I will never be that mum. I will probably never consistently cook healthy meals like my mum and my nana used to. And that is OK. Because someday, I will learn how to cook beyond the basics and until then, I’ll keep teaching my boys how to bake the “yummiest cookies ever,” remembering the key ingredients are always love and patience.
I want to be a mum who does cute arts and crafts projects more often and remembers to send them to the grandparents. I will never be that mum. I will most likely never do lots of arts and crafts projects that would make Martha Stewart proud, because I am too scatter-brained to remember to buy the art materials in the first place. And that is OK. Because when my kids bring their art projects home, I praise them and hang them proudly up on the kitchen wall.
I want to be a mum who reads books more, practices ABC’s more, sings more, dances more and laughs more. I will never be that mum. I will most likely never be able to do all the extras because there aren’t enough hours in the day. And that is OK. Because I will do my best and I will enjoy the moments when I do read, dance and laugh. And as long as my kids feel loved — and have learned what love is and how to love — it’s OK with me if they learn their ABC’s late.
And oh, oh how I want to be a mum who doesn’t feel inadequate. Who doesn’t look at her friends (and strangers) and say: Wow, they are great mums, why aren’t I like them? But instead looks at them and says: Wow, they are great mums and so am I.
So am I.
I am a good mum.
I might never be the mum I dream of being, but right now, I can be the mum that I am, the mum that my boys know and love. I might not be a lot of things I wish to be, but I still am a lot of good things. I didn’t cook a perfectly-balanced dinner tonight, but I did manage to not yell at my kids today and I am going to keep trying not to. I didn’t take my kids to the park yesterday, but I did talk with them while on a spontaneous family walk this morning.
You see, I find it so easy — too easy — to look in the mirror and see all the reasons why I am not a good enough mum, why I am not living up to my ridiculous ideal of what a mother should be. As a gift to myself, I am going to look in the mirror and tell myself that I am a good enough mum; that I might not be the mum that I envision, but that I am still a good enough mum. And I hope you do the same.