I think that all parents have a vision of the best version of themselves. We want to do it all, and no matter what our lives look like, we find faults. I know that I did; that is, until I clearly defined what the best kind of mom really is… at least to me.
As a mother, I would often riddle my tired brain with “If I were a better mom, I would…” I had a perfect mother on a pedestal in my mind, and I constantly compared myself to her.
But not anymore.
Because I’m here to tell you, in case you didn’t already know: perfection is a lie. And frankly, it’s bullshit. Perfection is airbrushing and hand-decorated cookies no one really has time for and photoshop and unicorn glitter. It’s smoke and mirrors.
Bullshit, I tell you.
But hey, we all still need something to compare to, right? We need to chalk ourselves up to a standard of some kind. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t mind having a set of ideals and a sense of perspective. It does require us, however, to really analyze our priorities.
What is most important? What should “the best kind of mom” really embody?
Is it a woman who has a clean house, no dirty dishes, and perfect manicures?
Is it a women who only buys organic, makes time for yoga and spin class every day, and never feeds processed food to her kids?
Is it a woman who always looks great when she goes out, keeps up to date with the most stylish wardrobe, whose makeup is always on point?
Say it with me: hell no!
Ok then. So what do we really value? What does an actual live mom daydream about?
I hate to disappoint, but there isn’t really one answer. What you desire may look different than what I do. However, let me tell you how I define the best kind of mom; let’s see if it comes close to what you think, too.
To me, the best kind of mom is one who believes in herself. She doesn’t get distracted by comparing herself to Pinterest Mom of the Year or that Kardashian chick. She walks through life free of the burden of guilt.
Sure she screws up sometimes. She may yell at her kids or drop the lasagna on the floor or be a few minutes late to the kids’ appointment. But she doesn’t hold on to those mistakes, because she knows that too many weights will pull her under. And she doesn’t have time to drown: she has kids to raise.
I’ll also add, my image of the Best Mom feels pride. She’s proud of the job she’s doing, when so often people think that moms are overrated or that they don’t really do much. She sees progress, she sees the big picture, and she knows she’s kicking ass. (When you really make a list of all the stuff you do on a daily basis – or how many spinning plates you’ve got going up in the air – it’s quite amazing!)
And finally, the Best Mom takes care of herself. Being a mother often feels like you’re on an island with little pigmies who can see you but don’t really hear or understand you; you are never alone but you can feel so very lonely.
So when the battery gets low, the Best Mom takes time to recharge. She doesn’t avoid self care because an empty cup can’t fill another. And by loving herself and telling herself “I deserve to be loved and cared for,” she’s also showing her kids an invaluable lesson: You’re worth it. You deserve love and attention and everything in this world.
I’ve slowly been making my way towards this Mom for years. I’m prone to be over-analytical anyway, and the guilt piled on: as the pounds didn’t melt away, as I had to put my firstborn in daycare because I couldn’t afford to quit my job; the guilt overcame me every time he would get sick and I would blame myself, and whenever I would think of every tear and smile and nursing session I missed.
I hated myself because I couldn’t be everyone I wanted to be, all the time. Isn’t that ridiculous? I know that it is, and I knew then, but I didn’t stop it. Only now have I really been trying to take better care of myself. And that includes a hell of a lot of forgiveness.
I want to be the Best Kind of Mom. And you know what? Now, when I look in the mirror, I see her there. Smiling back at me. Though, admittedly, I see that the body is flabbier and paler than it could be; I notice the reflection smiling through eyes which are tired but so happy; smiling as she ignores the laundry in the background or the dust on the tv. Smiling, because her kids are smiling.
So really, all in all, I’m doing pretty well.
You can find all of my “Just for Mom” articles here.
Tell me your description of “The Best Kind of Mom” – or hell, what kind of mom you’re aiming to be – in the comments below!