As I sit here on the eve of my daughter’s fourth birthday, waiting for the cupcakes I left until the last minute to cool, I find myself thinking about how often I feel like I am failing at this whole “being a mother” thing. The pressure put on parents these days can be a bit ridiculous. Pinterest has created unreachable standards for things that used to be somewhat simple and, dare I even say, fun. I mean, of course I would like to make my daughter’s class a fruit platter that looks like Elmo and Grover from Sesame Street, but do I have time to do that? No. The answer is just no.
So here I sit, waiting for the boxed-mix cupcakes (that’s right, they aren’t even from scratch) and I realize that there are other things that make me feel like I am not cutting it with this whole mother thing.
1. My patience, or lack thereof.
I never wanted to be the mother that yells at her children, but there are days when my patience has hit rock bottom and my 4-year-old is standing on the coffee table in her undies screaming, “NEVER, NEVER, NEVER” at my third request for her to get dressed for school and I just lose it.
I raise my voice — something that I always regret doing, especially when my children stop dead in their tracks and give me a look of fear and uncertainty. I guess that is the point of yelling — to get their attention — but it still doesn’t feel good.
2. My forgetfulness.
It is becoming more and more normal for me to feel like I have early onset Alzheimer’s. When I get to day care and realize that I have forgotten my kids’ pizza money, their field trip permission slip forms, or my daughter’s bike for the bike-a-thon that day, I want to slam my head into the steering wheel and stay there until the sound drowns out the yelling that is going on in my type-A brain.
How could I forget these things? They are important, right?
The truth is that trying to get both little humans out the door, dressed in real clothes, with their lunch boxes packed, and indoor shoes and clean sheets in the bag, is enough to make me want to strap on a Camelbak filled with coffee and pray for the best.
So when there is one more thing to remember, it is likely going to be left behind, sitting on the counter taunting me when I get back home.
3. My dinnertime rut.
My kids eat more mac and cheese than I’d like to admit. I’m not proud. It isn’t that I haven’t tried to make them other things, but there is something to be said about sticking with what you know they’ll actually eat. On really rushed nights, I am even guilty of microwaving leftover mac and cheese from the day before. The horror! I’m sorry, but nothing is more frustrating than spending time making a meal that won’t even be touched. It infuriates me, and even worse, it makes me fat because I am the one eating the untouched plates. It’s not cool kids. Help your mama out.
4. Hot mess express.
It is not uncommon for my children to leave the house with mismatched socks, unkempt hair, and some kind of food residue smeared across their kissable cheeks. I try. I really do. And believe me, I would love if my daughter’s hair was always perfectly braided and my son’s face was not covered in dried jelly, but that isn’t always possible. I am outnumbered and I am just trying to survive.
So what if my daughter is rocking bedhead for the fourth day in a row, and my son is wearing one sock with Elsa on it and the other with a fire truck. Who really cares?
Unfortunately, I do, more than I should. It’s easy to feel the mom guilt to hit you in the face when you see other kids at day care being dropped off looking like they just got out of church and your kid is in sweats and the PJ shirt he refused to take off.
Come on, people, these are little humans. They are going to fall in the dirt and cover themselves in grass stains within a matter of minutes. It’s fine, really.
With all of that said, the fact of the matter is that none of it matters.
In the grand scheme of things, I do the best I can. I am a normal mom who has rough days and sometimes comes up short. The feeling of defeat goes away when my kids spot me at day-care pickup and run to me screaming “Mama!” with a look of pure joy on their very dirty faces.
My kids know that I love them with every ounce of my being. I would do anything for them, and when they snuggle into my neck or give me sweet kisses on the cheek after I hand them their bowl of mac and cheese, I know that I am doing OK. We are all doing OK.
For more from Jenna Stewart, visit Motherhood with a Twist of OCD and her Facebook page.