As a mother, I often end days with regret.
I regret that I didn’t look my children full in the face every time they spoke to me. I regret that sometimes they have to repeat what they said to me because I was preoccupied. I regret that I spoke harshly or got annoyed.
Sometimes when I look back I can see how much better things could’ve been. And I feel guilty.
Even though my kids had an amazing day.
Even though they played and laughed and talked to each other non-stop.
Even though they helped me without complaint.
Even though we talked about things that matter.
Even though I am here. Sometimes it still doesn’t feel like enough.
Do you ever feel that way, fellow mothers? Fathers?
Like there is so much room for improvement? Like the girls on Pinterest are doing this motherhood thing right? Like the super-blogger-mom crowd is blowing us regular mothers out of the water?
And then I remember that a big part of being a parent is just dealing with life. I’m talking dealing with the nitty gritty of life as it comes at you at 150 miles per hour. It’s not really about the crafts or the vacations or the perfectly decorated rooms. It’s not about beautifully dressed children or reading by four years old or making your own soap.
Being a parent is about loving children. It’s about caring what’s on their minds and in their hearts. And, yes, friends, the caring counts even if you have to finish a phone call before you can stop to listen to your five year old’s story about Robot World. The caring counts even if you have to do some laundry before the whole family is naked–it’s okay to send the kids to another room to play while you get some real life junk done around the house. The caring counts even when you just need to lock yourself in the bathroom for five minutes to check and see if the royal baby has arrived. None of these “regrettable” actions is detrimental to our kids.
As a matter of fact, we should realize something about most of the things we do on a daily basis that would keep us from crafting incredible felt animal mobiles or writing our own book of summertime adventures featuring an endangered species that sings and dances. The reason we don’t have time to do these things is because we are dealing with life. And I don’t notice any pins on Pinterest about vomit or poopy diapers or The Great Cheese Cracker Explosion of Summer 2013. Yet, someone has to clean up all those cheese crackers. And, it ain’t going to be the adorable felt animals we might have crafted if real life weren’t happening. It’s going to be us.
When we are tempted to feel that familiar old pang of regret creeping in, let’s cut ourselves some slack. Because there is no handbook about the best way to do this job. Pinterest is a dream site. Blogs are best feet forward. But, real life is…real. And, when we get totally REAL about parenting, we can laugh more. We can give up the need to be perfect. We can wink at one of our babies when no one else is looking, and we can know that we’re the best mother they’ve got. And we will do just fine. Kids aren’t checking Pinterest and discussing what a disappointment we are. Kids don’t know how mothers are “supposed” to be. They only know how we are. So, when we care, when we love, when we laugh when we should and give plenty of hugs, they know they’re important to us.
Motherhood is the real deal. It’s messy. It really can’t be about gazing into our kids’ eyes while they describe in painfully accurate detail every. single. page. of the twenty chapter book they just finished. Sometimes motherhood calls for nodding and mmm-hmmming while getting some stuff accomplished. I’ve found if you throw in a “That’s awesome!” here and there, you really seem like a rock star mother. Aren’t kids the best?
Go forth and mother like a boss. No regrets over the silly stuff. We are doing what must be done, and we’re loving our babies as best we can. Real life doesn’t go away just because we want to give our kids 12 hours of undivided attention. Haven’t you heard? Musti-tasking is one of our specialties!
I truly needed to read this today… thank you!
I’m so glad you found it, Sarah!
For some reason, a link to this just popped up in my FB feed today when one of my friends liked it, and, oh my goodness, this is exactly what I’ve been struggling with for weeks now. Thank you!
I’m so glad, Teresa!!
There are the regrets of not being the cool grandmother too. Today I will have my 3 and 5 year olds and they will sleep over. I don’t have all the latest toys or video games but they always seem to stay occupied with the old matchbox cars and wooden train. I will spend time listening to how their minds work and marveling at their creativity. The best part of all will be that moment when they crawl up in my lap for snuggle time.
Helen, sounds like you’re the best kind of grandmother!