I want to tell you why. And I want to help you determine if you are one too.
Sometimes I feel like crap. Sometimes I look at all of the adorable things my friends make and pin and post and I wonder why I can't do those things. Why can't I make a brown paper bag look like a turkey complete with caramel popcorn stuffing and a beak that moves? Why don't I have the ingenuity necessary to create a life-size castle playhouse made entirely out of felt and love? I can't. I just can't. I don't sew. I don't paint. I don't decorate. I simply... can't.
I'm just not that kind of person. I've never been that kind of person. In high school my room was about as clean as a landfill, and I was totally cool with that. I just.... don't really care as much about visual presentation as I do about other things. I enjoy it when other people do really cute fun things. But it's just not me, and I'm tired of feeling bad about it.
I'm sick of Mother Shame. Mother Shame is having an image of the perfect mom in your head, and never being able to live up to it while all the other moms around you seem to have it down to an art. That feeling you get when you aren't the idealized version of motherhood you have created in your own mind, and you feel like every other mom around you is? That's Mother Shame.
I think it's time to annihilate Mother Shame.
And it's more than just crafts. It's everything else, too. It's me feeling guilty when my three-year-old doesn't know the alphabet by sight or the sounds of each letter because I feel like most one-year-olds we know have been reading for six months. It's when I'm in church and Tessa is climbing over the pews pretending that she's Sophia the First, and I feel like the only mom that doesn't have control over her kids. It's when I'm at the grocery store, an old lady whispers "Ma'am, you're child shouldn't be standing up. She might get hurt," and suddenly I want to punch a grandma in the face. Because clearly she has never had children. Or perhaps they didn't have shopping carts back when she was a mom.
All of these things are Mother Shame. And they all have to go.
The thing that I have recently realized is that I am just fine exactly the way I am.
It's time to shed light on what my life actually looks like, and simply celebrate who I actually am.
If I were to document the reality of one of my days on Pinterest, it would look something like this:
I started out the day by organizing my closet.
P.S. this is the "after" photo
Next, I went downstairs to make my girls this super adorable hand-picked lunch.
I handpicked most of these amazing finds at Costco! That's a really amazing feat because there is a lot of stuff at Costco and I managed to find all of these wonderful kid-friendly treasures. (Never mind that those are Halloween goldfish and it's almost Thanksgiving.)
I'm feeling really good about myself--about how healthy it is--because at first I was going to send them with this:
Don't worry. There's a fruit snack at the bottom.
So, yes, another victory for me as a mom!! Go me!
After I sent my older girls off on the bus (wearing my workout clothes because I was contemplating working out that day even though I never did and just didn't bother to change or even shower all day) I began the day with my preschooler. We decided to do a little decorating project together.
"I drew a pretty picture, Mommy!"
Now, I don't want to take all the credit for this creative piece on our wall. I did walk in on her after she had hung up her "artwork" and taken marker to the wall, so I didn't actually contribute all that much. But, there is now an amazing work of beauty hanging up on my wall and so I've got to pin that, right?
A few hours later, I walked in on this:
A successful poop in the potty!! And when she had wiped her own tush by herself and had gotten residual poo in places it shouldn't be and then remarked "My poo is just like paint!" I was so proud that my daughter has a refined ability to notice different textures and ways of expressing herself in this world.
This is my life. This is what being a mom is for me. This is what it actually looks like.
And do you know what's really sad? I find myself saying the phrase "I'm such a bad mom!" several times a day, as if my worth as a mother can ping pong back and forth on an hourly basis based on the things I do and don't do.
At 6:30 a.m. I woke up and was a "good" mom because I woke up at 6:30 a.m. before my kids were awake and had the intention of getting something done.
At 6:45 a.m. I was a "bad" mom because I turned on the TV and let my kids have "screen time" before school.
At 7:15 a.m. I was a "good" mom because I contemplated making my kids a hot breakfast.
At 7:16 a.m. I was a "mediocre" mom because I gave them Cheerios instead. I wasn't a "bad" mom though because it was Cheerios instead of Reese's Puffs (like they ate yesterday, back when I was a "bad" mom).
At 8:00 a.m. I was a "good" mom because I reminded Josh to practice the violin with Anna.
At 8:45 a.m. I was a "bad" mom because I yelled at my kids to put their dang shoes on for the 11th time that morning because we were going to miss the bus!
Does my worth as a mom fluctuate based on the little things I do and don't do? The answer is no. Human worth is unchanging. We can't base it on comparison, and that's what this "good/bad mom" paradigm is: comparison. Comparison robs us of our unique worth. It lies to us. It tells us we are not good enough when we actually are.
We are all different and we all have equal worth.
As I stop and think of all of the wonderful mothers that I know--they are all so diverse. I can't even think of two moms that are exactly the same. Suffer with me through this cheesy analogy, and please don't gag as I say this, but mothers are like flowers. We come in all different colors, shapes, and sizes. What a shame for a daisy to waste her days feeling depressed and guilty that she is not a rose! That is what I have been doing. I've been feeling sorry for myself and my children because I am not a rose. The truth is that my girls don't want a rose, they want me. There is only one Lolly--and I'm not even a flower, I'm a Weed. (Do you see what I did there? ) I have interests, talents, aptitudes, and passions that make me unique--and that make me a special mom.
Do you think my girls care that my house is dirty at this moment?
So, this Thanksgiving my girls will not wake up to hand sewn pilgrims lying next to them on their pillows, nor will there be a handcrafted cornucopia stuffed with fresh fruit at our breakfast table. (Other kids in the world have moms for whom that kind of thing is a strength, and that is totally wonderful. But that's not me, and that is wonderful too.) Instead, my girls will get a chocolate See's turkey alongside their bowl of Reese's Puffs. And, yes, I will let them eat it after breakfast even though it's candy because it's a holiday.
Perhaps the government committee that put together the food chart would frown down upon this choice, but guess what? I'm still a good mom making one decision on one day based on a certain set of circumstances in my life. And it's my life. And no one can accurately assess it but me. So, I just need to let what others think of me go. I need to let it all go and not worry about what the imaginary group of fictitious moms who live inside my head and criticize me daily say. Because those ladies are a bunch of judgmental Barbie Dolls who aren't even real. Most real moms out there would not judge me at all. And any who would judge my mommy skills are not the kind of people who would be my BFFs anyway.
Here's the truth that I have been realizing lately. It sounds so simple that it's easy to brush off and sometimes I forget it, but it's made a huge difference in how I've been thinking.
I'm a mom. I'm a good person. Therefore I'm a good mom.
The same goes for you. Are you generally a good person who tries your best every single day? And are you a mom?
Then you are a good mom. Period.
This formula always works. For example, let's say you see that your friend has put vegetables cut into the shape of hearts into their child's lunchbox. You instantly think "I'm such a bad mom! I never do anything cute like that for my kids' lunch. Wait--I never even put vegetables in my kids' lunch!" This is the moment when you have to insert the formula. Are you a mom? Yes. Are you a good person trying to do her best? Yes. Then you are a good mom. And no amount of heart shaped vegetables is going to change that. No matter what is happening in your life, you can count on this truth. If you are a good person who is trying her hardest and you are a mom, then by the Law of Motherhood Transitivity, you are a good mom.
No pin on Pinterest can prove this or take this away from you. No amount of "screen time" will change this. No meal you cook, no bathroom you clean, no parent teacher conference you forget, and no screaming match with a five-year-old you engage in will ever affect this. No accomplishment or failure of you or your child will add to or take away from this truth.
It just...is. You are a good mom. I am a good mom.
We're all good moms.
We're all doing the best we can, and we're all winning. And our kids are so, so, lucky to have us.
It's as simple as that.
You are (insert your child's name)'s mom. And that makes you special.
Nobody who matters is judging you. Don't judge yourself.
You are a good mom.