I head to the coffee bean hopper and turn on the grinder, filling my steel pot with water and fetch a brown, square filter for my Chemex. As I slowly pour the steaming water over the fresh grounds, I review my steps for the day, sorting through the tasks and plans, praying for clarity and patience to mother my children with compassion and intention.
It’s easy to let the glory of motherhood fade in the heat of the moment.
But at this moment peacefully sipping coffee, I am exactly the mom I want to be: the mom who loves unconditionally and never runs out of good ideas. The mom who perfectly disciplines and calmly leads her children with wisdom and panache.
Not the mom I frequently am, crying in the shower while her kids pull her underwear out of her dresser drawer again and eat all the yogurt covered raisins and gummy snacks because I don’t have the energy to protest anymore.
I can’t help but wonder if I am actually getting “it” right. This whole parenting thing. I feel like I should have figured out the “perfect” parenting equation by now.
I hear the kids waking up, so I pull out the peanut butter and strawberry jam to make sandwiches for our outing to the children’s museum. I don’t get dressed until minutes before we leave the house because the number of stains my clothes have after dealing with my kids would make it too embarrassing for me to handle in public.
I feel like I’m constantly missing the mark, like it’s always just outside of my reach; that somehow all the other moms on Instagram, with time for manicures and kids donned in matching and spotless outfits, got a manual at birth or went to the right parenting conference that gave them failproof child training programs that magically circumvented screaming and tantrums and throwing mac and cheese across the table.
Maybe I’m trying too hard, or maybe I’m not trying hard enough? Does every mom feel like she is failing her kids?
If I really think about it, each day that passes is most likely awesome from my kids’ perspectives. Their expectations are pretty simple. They want to be delighted in, to have their little love tanks filled to capacity with my laughter and approval. Imagine the person whose opinion you cared most about in the whole entire world, leaning down to draw you close and tell you they think you are awesome?
Our kids need our smiles to know they are essential in our lives.
A few weeks ago, (okay let’s be honest, pretty much every day of my life), I was craving brownies and convinced my 3-year-old daughter to help me stir the thick, chocolatey batter. We giggled and gushed about how thankful we are for chocolate, filling the 8×8 ceramic dish with our gooey mess. (I may get a lot of things wrong, but my children will not leave my house without serious brownie making skills.)
As we were waiting for the timer to give us the green light, my daughter leaned over to me and said, “Mommy, you are the best mommy in the whole world ever, did you know that?”
I met her blue eyes, brimming with sincerity, and planted a kiss on her sweet cheek. “I love you so much” I whispered in her ear.
I remembered this exchange as I made the trek to the bedroom to fetch my twin boys from their Pack ‘n Plays. Another busy day loomed before us. I picked them up, burying my face in their wiggly necks while singing a good morning song.
I have realized I can only be who I am, and this is actually exactly what my children need: me showing up in the fullness of who I am, to invite them into the fullness of their own unique identities. No one else could do it better.
The difficult work of raising up the next generation is worth every second of sacrifice I’m making.
Yes, there will be battles, yes there will be messes and frustrations, but if I open my eyes a little wider, I can see there is a beautiful story being written in the chaos, and I play an incredibly important role.
There is a treasure to be found in the never-ending routines, a gold mine being stored up in the heart of the future. My normal is different than everyone else’s, and that’s what makes the global collective of motherhood so breathtaking. Mothers cannot—and should not—be compared.
And just in case you didn’t know, you are the best mom in the whole world. Ever.