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

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