I’ve been thinking about you, as I often do, especially around the holidays.
I just want to say, thank you.
Thank you for making me Halloween costumes, taking me to local children’s events, helping me write Christmas lists, throwing me fun birthday parties, and making me lunches I would eat. Thanks for taking me to the park and pushing me high on the swing. Thanks for encouraging me to pursue a variety of interests and shuttling me to and from friend’s houses. Thanks for proofreading my homework and listening to my prattle.
Life was not always, or even frequently, easy for you, but you always showed up. You overcame a childhood with a broken family and an alcoholic father. You gave your children a better start than you were given. Through graveyard shifts and cross-country moves, financial highs and financial uncertainty, five children and two miscarriages, additional schooling and job changes, in the good times and the bad, you always gave what you had. I knew you never regretted having a family. And you rarely complained.
My memories of you inspire me to keep trying when I’m tired and look to heaven for help when I am struggling. Your example makes me want to try harder to be better, each and every day.
But Mom, as much as I admire all you did, I thank you just as much for all you didn’t do.
You didn’t do it all, all alone, all perfectly, all the time.
Mom, thanks for the times you likely felt you had fallen short. Thank you for the years we didn’t decorate for the holidays and for the times we were late for the party. Thanks for not being able to make every school function or cross-country meet. Thanks for not always dressing me in designer clothes and for not having a perfect photo album for every year of my childhood. Thanks for not making a gourmet meal three times a day and for letting us watch too much TV sometimes. Thanks for letting Dad, grandparents and friends step in and help us when you needed them.
Thank you for being human.
I imagine (and observed!), as a fellow perfectionist, your perceived shortcomings in motherhood caused you pain. Please know, that I feel a bond with you as I experience my own. The years disappear; the feelings of inadequacy join us.
Then, as the waves of frustration subside and truth surfaces more clearly in my mind, I realize that it’s okay I am not “a perfect mom.” Neither were you. And I love you all the more for it.
I have plenty of unrealistic expectations to live up to, both societal and self-imposed.
It’s comforting to have, in you, a balanced vision of what a great, but real, mom looks like: Some strengths, plenty of weaknesses.
Supermom is a myth; however, there are a lot of super moms, much like my own, doing a great job with the very real lives they are living.
Because of you and other great moms and role models in my life, I am confident that my children will know I loved them, even if I never finish their baby books. They will know that I care, even if I miss their class parties. They will learn that times I was anything less than kind and loving have less to do with them and more to do with my own limitations and humanity. They will know that I am trying my best, just as I know you did and do.
I have great hope that one day, like me, my children will think,
“She may not have been ‘a perfect mom,’ but she was the perfect mom for me.”
P.S. Until that day, also like me, they’ll probably keep noting their mother’s idiosyncrasies and flaws. Sorry about that.