They’re out there! “The Great Moms.” The homemade cookie bakers, the schedule tamers, the mothers who hold it all together through the disorder and chaos. Every great speech is about them, they breed Nobel Peace Prize winners and we all strive to be a little bit like them.
“You’re a great mom,” has been a phrase that was said to me a couple of times. With only nine months in, however, I can’t say that I have achieved “Great Mom” status. I haven’t made it to the toddler tantrums, the early mornings before school preparations, the drop off lines, the slamming doors and the teenage eye rolls. I have barely made it to crawling. For now, I am just trying to be a good mom.
Hopefully, my infant won’t remember the Messy Mama, with uncombed hair, spit up stained t-shirts, and three day worn leggings. I am still trying to figure out how to shower everyday before she starts retaining her memories. I don’t want her to remember me as the mom who couldn’t get her shit together.
I hear the seasoned mom’s say, “wait until she is a toddler,” and it makes me feel inadequate. I can barely handle her infant meltdowns without crying myself. Just the thought that I’ll have to settle a screaming child in the middle of a grocery store amps up my anxiety and it throws me into a panic attack. If the idea of a public tantrum makes me lose my mind, how am I going to handle a real one? Surely, someone who is a Great Mom would have this all figured out.
I am just trying to be the mom who can cope with the madness. Some days I have to set my shrieking baby down in her crib. Yet, her determined wails and screams of “Mama,” break my heart and I am back by her side instantly. Does a Great Mom cry in front of her child? My frustrations turn into guilt and I question my ability as a mom. After all, she is only a child. A child who is communicating the only way she knows how. A child who may be more frustrated than me. As the adult she will learn from, is my behavior teaching her an appropriate way to handle her own emotions?
Blow outs turn into wrestling poop battles. This usually results in four loads of laundry and a deep clean of most of the furniture. How does a diaper change get so out of hand? Would a Great Mom have to clean feces out of the carpet multiple times a week?
At what point does “New Mom” wear off? When do you have to stop using the term “new” as an excuse for feeling so incompetent and acting such? At what point is, “it’s ok if the house is a mess,” no longer justifiable. After almost a year, is it still ok to have dishes sitting in the sink? Is the gathered clutter excusable because I am a “newish” mom? How can I be a good mom if I can’t get the hang of being a decent mom? I assume the Great Mom has settled into her role and is excelling in all thing’s mom. Why am I still struggling?
I was thirteen years old when my mother walked out on me. Now, as a mother myself, it leaves me with questions. Can motherhood drive us to the point where we just walk away? Is motherhood so difficult that it can literally make us give up? I look at my little girl playing with her toys and I wonder to myself, is motherhood so chaotic? Is it easier to break the heart of the little being you created than to just be a decent mom?
This thought weighs heavy on my shoulders. Especially heavy on the days when I feel like I am not doing my best. I look in the mirror and I see the reflection of a woman who gave up. Her features resonate through the dark circles under my eyes and the unkempt hair. I see her as I get older and the reality of becoming the same woman becomes a frightening nightmare. Will I become so overwhelmed that I could just walk out on my own child?
The answer is no. Yes, I am just beginning my journey, and yes, I still have much more of my mind to lose, but I am still trying to be a mom who will always do the right thing. A mother who will always be here for her daughter. A mother who has so much love to give to her little girl. A mother who is so very excited to watch her grow, build a relationship with her and give her the type of mother that I never had.
Yes, the chaotic moments can be debilitating and discouraging. Then there are the beautiful moments, the wonderful experiences that make it all worthwhile. Moments like when she lays beside me and falls asleep in my arms. Her infectious giggles and heartwarming smiles. The moments that turn into everlasting memories. The tough moments melt away and my confidence builds. Yes, most days I’m still a mess, but the reality is motherhood is hard. Whether your child is an infant, or a toddler, a young child, a teenager, and even an adult. Maybe she’ll remember some days when I couldn’t keep it together, but she’ll never remember a day when I wasn’t there for her. My fears become my greatest motivations and I push on. I fight on for my child and I fight on for me. For her, I fight to be a good mom.
I look forward to when she is a teenager, blowing out her sweet 16 candles. Together, we’ll have battled through the tantrums, the diaper wars, the late nights and early mornings. We’ll have survived the drop off lines and the piles of dirty laundry. We’ll make it through the slamming doors and the “I hate you’s”. I’ll get to watch her grow, I’ll embarrass her and gush over the things my mom missed, and I’ll love her beyond the eye rolls. Maybe then, when someone says, “you’re a good mom,” I’ll smile and say, “I know.” Until then, I’m just trying to be the mom that she needs.
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*Disclaimer – Statements made in this post are of my own opinions, views, and thoughts. I am not a professional and should not be regarded as such.