The other day, a family member of mine, mother to an increasingly lively eleven-month-old, sheepishly woke up from a sudden nap. My mother and I were present when she’d drifted off — in fact, it had happened in her living room. We’d let her sleep, and watched the baby quietly play and discover things.
“Sorry for being a bad mother,” my family member said to her daughter. I could tell she was only half-joking.
A little while later, I went to talk to her while she prepared dinner. “You’re not a bad mom!”
She didn’t look convinced.
“A bad mom abuses her kids, or abandons them,” I pointed out.
“Okay,” she admitted. “But I’m not perfect.”
“No one’s a perfect mom,” I retorted. And then —have you ever had felt this truth inside you, this thing you know but have never articulated in any way before? After three years of motherhood, I was having an epiphany. “At least, not all the time. I think most of us are okay moms. Perfect moms really don’t exist. Except in little moments.”
I’m sure I wasn’t the first person who’s ever come to this conclusion, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
You might not even realize those “perfect mom” moments are happening. But after, you’ll often feel like, “I kicked ass as a maternal figure just then.”
I mean, hopefully you’ll realize it. And if you don’t, at least your kid will, in some way.
I’ve had lots of “not-so-great mom” moments, and a ton of “okay mom” moments. But I’m happy to say there have been a number of “perfect mom” ones, too.
Some — my favorites, in fact — are special times my son and I shared, laughs or smiles, fascination at the wonders of the world (including whale sounds, baking competitions, and the indisputable adorableness of baby meerkats). Others are when I was able to do something to make his day extra good. These weren’t always easy. Like those times I’ve sat down and read him that book he wanted me to, three times in a row, even though I’m sick to death of it and had work to do. Times when I’ve amicably made his toy bear comment on and participate in a long session of sending every matchbox car he owns down the slopes of his toy garage (for some reason, the bear’s participation is essential). Some are even discipline-related, like the other day when I insisted he could not have a microwave pretzel before dinner (this was especially hard because 1. I’m not great at discipline and 2. I really wanted a microwave pretzel, too).
I’m happy because moments like these are an accomplishment, and because many of them are tied to some wonderful memories with my son. But not because I think they make me special or above-average as a parent.
Most of us have experienced these moments when, briefly, you touch glory, and reach “perfect mom” status. Keeping them in mind can help you weather the inevitable moments of self-doubt.
So, fellow moms, when you’ve got a few spare minutes (and I know those aren’t always easy to come by), why not try to recall — or even write down — some of your “perfect mom” moments?
Or just chill out and read a magazine or watch one of your shows or something — you definitely deserve it.