Being a mother is the most exhausting, amazing, guilt-inducing, heart-wrenching, but rewarding experience I have ever — or probably will ever —have.
The entire experience is the strangest paradox to me. Sometimes I find myself counting down the hours until bedtime, only to sit on the couch scrolling through photos of my kids 20 minutes later because I already miss them. It’s a mixture of feeling such pride over the amazing things that they say and do, and then feeling like a complete failure because surely I am screwing everything up and they’re going to hate me one day.
I cannot even begin to express how many times a day I feel like I am completely failing at being a mother. My patience is short, I raise my voice, I nag about the most ridiculous things. I am too regimented and become far too easily frustrated when things don’t go my way … which is often.
These are the things that often haunt me at night once my children are in bed — all of the things I didn’t get right that particular day.
There are days when it feels like it’s all I can do to make it through and keep everyone alive. I’ll cry as I rock my son to sleep and get choked up as I say bedtime prayers with my daughter, because I feel like there’s no way I’m doing this job well. But then my children will blow me away by showing me that that’s not what they see — that’s not what they take away from our days together.
Last night, as I lay in bed with my daughter post-books, post-prayers, and post-songs, I asked her what her favorite moment from the day was, what made her the most happy. She thought for a moment and said, “When you took us swimming and you made us super yummy lunches. You’re the best mommy in the whole world!” As if that weren’t enough to get the waterworks going, I then asked her what the saddest part of her day was, to which she replied, “Bedtime. I don’t like going to bed, because I miss you.”
I felt as though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. She wasn’t focusing on the bad things, the times I lost my patience or I was short with her. She chose to remember the good.
When I stop and really think about it, there are some pretty great things I do as a parent — things I don’t give myself enough credit for. I host a mean snuggle sesh every morning in my bed. I help my daughter put together fun outfits. I carry my 25-pound baby-boy-man-child around in a carrier ALL the time because he loves being close to mama. I make pretty awesome meals (and sometimes we even eat them outside for a fun picnic.) I get us out of the house most days for “adventures” (as my daughter likes to call them, even though it’s often just a quick playdate or a trip to the grocery store). I still nurse my 12-month-old biter. I turn on music all the time for impromptu dance breaks with my kids.
I know I am not a perfect mom and I know that there are (and will always be) things that I need to work on, but it is my hope, my prayer, that my children will continue to remember all the good, small things I do for them every day. It isn’t easy to put in the extra effort to make the everyday special, but it’s oh so worth it when your children start telling you that those things matter. All those little things add up to a really big thing — their childhood — and I want to make it as fantastic as I can. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just filled with a lot of love.
If you’re feeling like a failure today, try remembering all the little things you do — the things that you may think go unnoticed — because I promise, they really do matter.More On