In the journey to become a stellar mother, there are simple but unpleasant truths that happy, veteran mothers have learned to accept. I share but three.
The Flaky Mom. At some point you will be the Flaky Mom, and more than likely to mainly one person. It’s a strange but true phenomena. This person will not see you as your typical fabulous self because for some reason when you are with said person, suddenly you can’t remember to meet them for lunch, or to share dinner duty for the PTA, or to pick up their six children from a school play practice.
But that’s okay. Because being the Flaky Mom you will pay it forward when on the receiving end of another flakester. Like myself. For over two years one of my friends endured, saint-like, my hormonal forgetfulness. I apologized profusely. I confessed I didn’t know why it was only to her. I even brought treats and trinkets as a symbolic olive branch, but things did not change with my brain. I often wondered how she was so patient. And then I paid it forward and found it.
I became friends with a fabulously wonderful woman who was experiencing the Flaky Mom syndrome. Initially, when she would forget, miss, or complicate schedules, I became frustrated. But then a voice of reason said Alamo-like, “Remember Ann.” That one thought immediately changed my attitude. Now I take the flakesters in stride because I know how often I’ve been the offender, and how soon I will likely be one again.
Being Less Than. Whether it’s your kids, your waistline, the size of your house, the make of your car, or the quandry over how many awards your child will win at school, at some point, as a mother, you will feel less than. A few years ago I spoke to a large business conference on tidying up your life, at home and at work. It went spectacularly. So much so that women followed me out to the car to help stow my speaking materials. As I opened the front passenger door, I was greeted with a ketchup drip, nay, a river, going from the door handle down to the bottom of the door. From my driver’s side vantage point it was at such an angle that I hadn’t seen the little gift my son had left me the night before.
I still remember the silence that fell and how one woman (obviously a veteran mother) laughed and made a joke about children and messes, then left me to my embarrassment. This truth of being less than is one to learn quickly because it will happen often. And when it does, simply remember that as mothers, that’s part of the package. Own it and soon you’ll be laughing along with the other mothers at the ketchup river. As one woman said, her friends told her she had no ego. She said no, I just have teenagers.
You will drop the ball. You can’t be all things to all people, most especially your family. That’s intended. We need to make choices and because of that, we will make mistakes. Some of them will be small. Like the tooth fairy forgetting to show up. This has happened so often at our house that now our children look forward to the Tooth Fairy getting lost in a storm, being unable to find the tooth (though it’s under a pillow), or accidentally giving money to a sibling who didn’t lose a tooth. They know if she makes a mistake, they make bank. One tooth cost the fairy a solid fiver with a Cold Stone coupon. She was pretty punctual after that.
Other mistakes will be bigger. Forgetting a child at the ball park. Setting a punishment that was too harsh. Or ignoring signs in a child that warned something was seriously wrong. Sometimes dropping the parental ball will be a very, very painful experience, but a learning lesson if we choose. We can show our children how to pick up the dropped ball, yet again, and continue to move forward.
As I said, there are many motherhood realities that we can accept and even embrace. Hopefully, you can allow yourself to nod and give yourself permission to do the same, before you find a ketchup river on your car door.