THE MOM I’M NOT

Yesterday I was sitting next to a mom who I am not.

This mom apparently had the foresight to realize our boys would have no break for lunch during their Ultimate Frisbee tournament, so she brought snacks for the entire team. Two bags of clementines and a huge ziplock full of cheese sticks. She also had a cooler stocked with ice packs and, once word got out, a steady stream of mildly battered players stopped by to request various forms of frozen relief. She had enough for everyone.

I am not this mom.

I didn’t think to bring anything for R-boy to eat at all, much less ice packs for him or anyone else. It was lucky that I actually found the right field before their second game was over.

My daughter has told me that she always loved going to visit her friends’ houses because they would have big kitchens and “lots of bowls.” That’s how she describes their homes. Lots of bowls. With moms who stand behind the kitchen islands filling the bowls with treats and snacks.

I am not this mom.

It’s unclear how my quantity of bowls compares with other moms, but our little 1940s R-house doesn’t have an island in the kitchen, or a great room, and it wouldn’t matter anyway because I’m rarely standing at the counter filling bowls with things for everyone to eat. Unless it’s microwaved popcorn.

Last week I was sitting next to several moms (and a dad) who were swapping tips on how to get the grass stains out of their sons’ sports uniforms.

I am not this mom.

I’m not sure I’ve ever spent more than two seconds contemplating how to get grass stains out of sports uniforms or noticing whether I accomplished this. In fact, I barely touch R-boy’s uniforms anymore because he washes them himself these days.

Some days I’m okay with the kind of mom I am, and some days I worry that I’ve done it all wrong. I realize that my kids have missed out on some things. And, lately, as the end of my active momming looms closer, I’ve had a few panic attacks about this.

I mean, I’m having to face the fact that once my kids move away, they won’t long for my home cooking. And if home cooking doesn’t lure them home, will anything?? Will I see my children again? Will my lack of bowls lead to my demise as a mother?

Am I a failure?

But then I’ll hear my daughter say something like, “I’m so glad I don’t have a mommy who’s a pushover.”

And—because I know that I used to 100% be a pushover, and I have worked damn hard in therapy and in life and in relationship after relationship to change that pattern, for the sake of myself and equally so for my children—hearing her say this makes my heart swell.

Or I’ll hear her say, “One thing I learned from you is how important it is to take good care of myself.”

And—because I know that, when I was her age, I didn’t really know how to take good care of myself at all, and it’s taken me years of intention to develop and improve that skill—this too will make my heart swell.

Or I’ll realize that my son is washing his own sports uniform.

!!!!

I know I’ve been so very far from perfect as a mom. And it goes way beyond my meager cooking skills. Just this past week, I had to apologize again for the miserable way I’ve sometimes made my own stress fill up the entire house, seeping into my kids’ sensitive hearts as if it was theirs to bear.

I’ve told my kids I’ll be glad to come to therapy with them someday if they need to say something hard to me about some way that I’ve made life more painful or challenging for them. I’ve prayed many times that God would fill in the gaps that I’m leaving.

I’ve had to accept that I’m not every mom. I’m only the mom I am.

I think this is all I can do. Perhaps it’s all any of us moms can do. That, and be there for each other, without judging ourselves. Or each other.

Sometimes I’ve felt threatened by the moms who I am not. Sometimes I’ve wished they would be worse at a few things so I could look better. But today I want to say thank you.

Thank you to the moms with the bowls and the snacks. Thank you for feeding my kids when I was too busy or absent-minded (or self-absorbed?) to notice they’d like that.

Thank you to the moms with the ice packs. Thank you for being there for my kids and their pain.

Thank you to the moms who’ve been working so hard to get out the grass stains all these years. Thank you for elevating the level of brightness on my kids’ teams.

I am not you, but my kids and I have needed you.

Maybe we have all needed each other.

__

P.S. Last night I ran to the grocery store for a few snacks. Who did I run into in the produce section, buying two more bags of clementines and a bag of apples for the second day of our boys’ tournament?

Yep. That mom who I am not. She’s amazing!

Here’s to all the moms we are, and all the moms we aren’t, girls.

Happy Mother’s Day!

xxoo

27 Comments

  • Holly

    What a thoughtful post! Thank you for sharing!

     
  • Julie

    Oh, Laura. This is just the very best ever. To get to see my kids through someone else’s experience. Thank you for that gift!! And, yes. Here’s to being the moms we are! xxoo

     
  • Laura

    I don’t get to see you momming, but I get to see the kind of kids you’ve raised. The proof is in the pudding (that’s actually micro popcorn). And when J cares for our wee ones, I get to see a reflection of what you did. He’s fab. So we know you were/are. He doesn’t make them bowls of snacks or get the stains outta their clothes, but he patiently chalks the driveway with them, and lets them do silly stuff with his hair, and lets them imaginate and create. You can be proud of the care he provides, and learned from you-know-who.

    Let’s celebrate the moms we are, Fri!
    Laura

     
  • Julie

    Oh, Stacy! So sweet. Enjoy. And be the mom you are. xo

     
  • Stacy Schwartz

    As a new mom, this gave me a little tear in my eye today! Thanks for these words, I will remember this message for all my future mom years to come and look forward to it.

     
  • Julie

    Amen, brother. Thank you!

     
  • Behind the Board DJ (@djsbehindboard)

    Occasionally, I’ll post a stream of consciousness about my thoughts on Motherhood (sometimes, it’s Parenthood; usually, I focus more on the mothers). Due to my own experiences as a parent, I understand how you’d occasionally have anxiety about whether or not you’re getting this “Mom Thing” right.

    I always say that, if you’re worried that you’re not doing it right, that’s indicative of the fact that you are. No one SHOULD expect you to be perfect. There’s no true handbook to parenting. The fact that you’ve worked to improve on yourself, coupled with the understanding that it would extend to your children is HUGE.

    And the kids are occasionally telling you that they see your worth. That’s a WIN right there.

    It’s okay that you aren’t “Every Mom.” You weren’t meant to be. You do YOU. That’s all that Life requires.

    Keep on keepin’ on.

     
  • Julie

    I agree, Terri! Probably all of us moms feel like the inadequate one at some point – but maybe just being there as the mom we are makes all the difference for our kids. That’s what I’m hoping. 🙂 Thanks for reading!! xo

     
  • Terri Yang

    I loved reading this post! I think as a mom, we will always feel this way at some point. I’m sure that mom with all the snacks feel that way too without anyone realizing it also. I think just being you for your kids, is good enough 🙂

     
  • Julie

    Jill – Oh, this blesses me to hear! Confirmation that we moms don’t have to be everything. Thank you! xo

     
  • Julie

    Julie! Thank you! The fields I sit at these days are so different from those baseball diamonds – but you are still, truly, a Mom Like Me in so many ways. xxoo

     
  • Julie Lynn Pinomaki

    Wonderful blog, Julie. Once again, you knocked one out of the park!
    I’m so grateful to have sat together with you at the baseball fields. 🙂

     
  • Julie

    Yes! You put it perfectly, Danielle. xo

     
  • Jill

    I love how real and honest this post is!!! My mom wasn’t all of those things either but she’s so loving and is just the best character!

     
  • Danielle

    I love this! It’s a great reminder to not compare yourself to others and to stay true to yourself <3

     
  • Julie

    Jay – Here’s to everything we are and everything we aren’t – in parenting and in all the rest of it. Thank you for the very kind words, friend!! xxoo

     
  • Julie

    Oh, Charise. These words are such a gift to me! Wow. Thank you, friend. For all the years of life we’ve lived. For all the laughs. For all the love. You are a treasure! Truly. Miss you!! xxoo

     
  • Jay

    Love you, Julie! I appreciate your words, as I agonize every day over the Dad I am and the Dad I am not. You are a great example to me and an amazing Mom.

     
  • Charise

    Wow. Love the raw honesty and vulnerability. I love that you are a mom! What you wrote makes you such a wonderful mother to your kids!!
    God knew what kind of mom and what kind of kids you would have !! You speak into heir life by who you are – sometimes we forget that. Kids learn as we grow too.
    Moms are people too and they ( we ) make mistakes and learn and grow and that is the example we leave for our kids. You, Jules, you are shining – ( almost blinding ) example of so many things ; patience, perseverance, kindness, generosity of the heart, level-headedness, acceptance, beauty, health, inspiring and so much more! Your kids are healthy, happy, sweet, active, beautiful, kind ….
    One of the BEST thingS about you is you love to laugh.
    I REMEMBER the hard times, the funny times, the sweet times and the discipline that you have – I was always in awe of your talents. Music, writing, drawing, confidence ( yes that is talent ) , even your handwriting !!!
    You are perfect with all your imperfections. I love you so much and I miss you!
    ❤️

     
  • Julie

    Oh, thank you, Jill! And yes, I think so too. On both accounts! xo

     
  • Jill

    I think your kids turned out pretty great. And isn’t that our final ‘grade’ as a mom?

     
  • Julie

    Thank you, Amber!! What an exciting and amazing journey lies ahead of you. And, yes! We all get to be different because we ARE all different. It’s beautiful and messy, just like the rest of it, right? I do hope my kids take me up on the therapy offer – or at least sit me down and say their hard things to me. If I can have the chance to apologize for things I don’t yet know to apologize for, that would be a gift to me. And hopefully to my kids. Happy first Mother’s Day, Amber!! xxoo

     
  • Julie

    Oh, Deb! So, so glad I’m not alone in this. Thanks for relating to the imperfections and for walking this journey with me!! Your words bless me truly. Thank you, friend!! xxoo

     
  • Julie

    Thank you so much for these beautiful, encouraging words, Nancy. It means a lot to me!! xxoo

     
  • Amber

    SO GOOD! I especially love the part about how you’ve told your kids you’ll happily go to therapy with them. I can totally see myself saying that to my kids someday. We all have different strengths as parents, because we’re all different as PEOPLE. Thank you for this awesome read to end my very first Mother’s Day. 🙂

     
  • Deb

    I laughed and I cried while reading these vulnerable words only because I have felt every single one of them. If you ever need to know what kind of mom you are, I’ve got some encouragement for you! I’ve seen you and have watched you through the years. I’m inspired and encouraged, my friend. Love you Jules! ❤️ Happy Mothers Day!

     
  • Nancy

    You are a wonderful Mom! Never doubt that! Your kids are awesome and that is a reflection of you! ❤️

     

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