We all have our ideas of what being a perfect mom is and how far we have to go to measure up. But how do we know if we are an Imperfect Mom? Have you ever sat your children down in front of the TV and said “Watch this and don’t move so Mommy can have five minutes of peace and quiet!” ? Have you ever had evenings when the kids bedtime was whenever they passed out on the floor – in their clothes – and it was 11 p.m.? Do you have evenings where you realize your kids haven’t brushed their teeth for the last three days because you forgot to tell them to? Have you ever screamed “If you all don’t settle down and be quiet I’m going to sell you to the next person who knocks on the door!”?
If you answered “yes” to any one of these, welcome to my world – the world of The Imperfect Mom.
Growing up, I used to wonder how Mrs. Brady made it all come together. It seemed as though she should live in a daily world of chaos with six kids all vying for attention, food and clean clothes. But Mrs. Brady never seemed flustered. In fact, she was calm, collected and cool as a cucumber. And well-dressed.
Obviously Mrs. Brady was NOT a real mom. Real moms don’t all have a live-in housekeeper who takes care of the finer details of family life such as cooking, cleaning, and, well. . .cooking and cleaning!
For some reason, while I was laboring to give birth to my first child, I also labored under the delusion that this mom job would be simple – and easy. Yeah, right! And the truth of the matter is almost as painful as the birth was. The plain fact – it takes work to be a mom.
Don’t get me wrong – I would not trade my three precious babies for anything in the world – not even peace and quiet and a clean uncluttered home – but being a mom takes work and dedication. It takes commitment to get up every morning, move the clutter piles out of the way and fix a delicious healthy breakfast of Froot Loops for three hungry children before I tackle the mountainous piles of dirty clothes. It also takes great amounts of self-restraint to show love, patience and dignity when my children are climbing up the walls and swinging from the light fixtures at the grocery store.
It also takes grace and restraint to smile calmly when one child looks at a wedding picture and shouts in dismay “Mommy! You were so skinny and pretty!” My thighs and my derriere jiggle while I try to control the laughter inside me.
It also takes extreme dedication to read The Very Hungry Caterpiller and play Candyland over, and over, and over, and over. And how about watching Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer until I sing the theme songs in my sleep (don’t even mention The Wiggles if you want me to keep my supper down!).
How many moms the world over have went hungry in order to keep her brood well-fed? Most people have seen “A Christmas Story” where the little boy wants the Red Ryder bb-gun? The scene where the family sits down for a meal, and the mom never gets to eat because everyone is asking her for something was funny before I had kids, but I thought it was an exaggeration.
Believe it or not, I didn’t really remember that happening with my mom while I was growing up, although I now observe this scenario being carried out by my mother at every family get-together.
Amazing how our perception changes, huh? Now, I sit down for a meal with my precious wee ones and dear husband, and I hear a constant barrage of “Can I have more to drink?” “I dropped my fork!” “Can I have more of this?” “Can I have another napkin?” “Can I have more?” “Can I have more?” “Can I have more?” Alas, a mother’s work is never done! But is it ever worth it!
I used to think that to be a good mom, the house had to be spotless, all the housework done, everything perfect. Now, though I realize that is a pipe dream. The housework never gets done! As soon as I get it done, it’s time to start again. Instead, I have learned that it’s okay to be an Imperfect Mom.
The Imperfect Mom will let the dishes, laundry and vacuuming sit until tomorrow in order to play with play dough with her kids. The Imperfect Mom will allow the kids to help with the dishes even though they will make a mess. The Imperfect Mom will forgo reading the newspaper to cuddle up with the kids and read their favorite book.
I laugh and joke about the chaos of being a mom and living in a home with children, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love kids in general, and I love MY kids even more than I thought possible. Before I had kids, I thought that all I ever wanted was to have a successful career. I had goals, dreams and aspirations. Looking back, I realize that while my former goals were worthy, they paled in comparison to the adventure I was soon to embark upon.
From the first moment I held the first one in my arms, I was hooked. The deep longing of my womanhood boiled up and whispered to me “This is what you were meant to do. Look at this precious life! You have been given the gift – the privilege! – of being able to love, nurture and raise this beautiful child! It will be hard – but it will be worth it!”
No, motherhood is not easy – it is definitely not for the faint of heart – or the squeamish for that matter. As a mom, I am called upon to be a peacemaker, a tailor, a healer, an organizer, a minister, a genius, a translator, a magician, a teacher, a chef, a housekeeper, an accountant, a repairman, and many other odd occupations. And what is my pay for doing these things? It is a sign written in black crayon on orange construction paper taped to a wall in our home. It states simply “Your the best mom.”
I think that makes it all worth it – and it reminds me that it’s okay to be an Imperfect Mom.