The Perfect Mom
by Mary Jane Estrada-Lyder
I work every day. I work 40+ hours at my job, away from home, and then come home to my other full-time job, “the mom job”. When the kids go to sleep, I have my other job, full of the other extracurricular activities/projects that I work on with my husband. Currently, in addition to my job description which I just shared with you, I’m in a leg brace, occasionally using a crutch, after recent ACL surgery, and I move at a snail’s pace, a quarter of the pace that I am used to, as a mom.
You should’ve seen me right after surgery. I couldn’t do a thing and it was very disheartening. I am one who has a hard time accepting help, as I feel I am a burden on my family. However, I had to remind myself constantly, that if I do not slow down and accept help, I will take that much longer to heal. It is very humbling to lose the ability to function the way you’re used to.
So, I am used to being on the go, doing things efficiently, not going back and forth a million times, because, “Oh man, I forgot to get my ice...back to the freezer…I forgot to bring the cup?!...back to the kitchen again!” SMH. I feel that since I’ve had this brace on and have to focused on every step to avoid tripping and falling and risking having a second surgery, my mind has shifted away from remembering some important things like putting the juice box in the lunch boxes, giving the boys their breakfast before they scurry out the door to school, looking over my youngest son’s math homework. I am their mother. How can I forget to do those things?! But you know what my friends call it? They call it life. Don’t beat yourself up because you are not perfect every day. I have to remind myself of that very thing. Although I am writing about this now, I will keep having to remind myself, “don’t beat yourself up.”
It is embedded in us, the motherly instinct, to do the best for our kids, give the best to our kids, right? -and when we can’t deliver the perfect package, we let ourselves down; but I guarantee you, if the house isn’t spotless or if you didn’t serve salad with dinner last night or if you didn’t go to your son’s Book Buffet project at school, it is not going to be the end of their world! It also shouldn’t be the end of yours.
I am such a type A person in some aspects and one of those aspects is in the realm of motherhood. I sometimes put that pressure on myself to have everything PERFECT. I have to have the perfect house, the perfect kids, the perfect family; yet I am far from perfect. What I do have to remind myself is that I do my best and give my best and my all to my family and to others! I may not be as fast as I was and I may not be able to keep the house as clean and organized as it was before the surgery, but guess what I did do? I helped my 12 year old through all his middle school applications and he got into very good schools! I put together a pretty good Mad Hatter Costume if I do say so myself, for the 6th grade Spring play. I took care of my youngest’s leg abrasion and mended it back to health. I helped people at work and worked on several projects at my full-time job. I have 2 very happy and healthy boys who are engaged in school, social and active. Count your blessings.
I may not be perfect, but when I look at my children, I know that I got something in my life perfectly right.
I also found that there are tools you can use to help make life a little easier and a little more organized. Some of us Super Moms, rely too much on ourselves to remember things. I was like that. “Oh, I’ll remember…Oh rats! I totally forgot the book money is due today!” Simple tools include writing events and due dates on a calendar and actually looking at that calendar daily. Some people like to post notes, however, beware of post-it notes being like white noise, you know? The more post-it notes you stick up, the less you may actually notice them. I personally like to add due dates and events on my iPhone with details and alerts. It’s been a game-changer, for sure! The funny thing is that several years ago, I did not see the need to convert from my flip phone to a smartphone, but it really has made a positive difference for me. I’ll save the conversation on smartphones for another day.
So when I say day by day, also remember, “baby steps.” What does that mean? Well, that doesn’t mean that it will take years for you to complete a project, although my husband will tell you otherwise, lol. But it also doesn’t mean that you have to finish a project in one day. Remember, “don’t beat yourself up.” Every day, LOVE your kids. Teach them to be kind and compassionate always, patient and respectful. The other projects like organizing the house, yes, it is a plus! - But is it absolutely the end all be all?! NO. Again, we all have our differences and some moms out there may say that if your home is not organized, you and your kids will be less happy. Happiness comes from within yourself and what you can share of yourself with your kids.
In the end, I am the only one who can give my children a happy mother who loves life. -Janene Wolsey Baadsgaard
Baby steps...do what you can do. If you have time to tackle starting a project, go for it! Notice that I said “starting.” Let’s be realistic. If you have a job, kids and a husband and you have this idea that you’re going to rearrange the kids' room, you may be able to get a lot done in a day, but don’t be discouraged if it takes a few days. If it’s time for spring cleaning and the kids have tests to study for the next week, a project due in 3 weeks and you have a meeting to prepare for, you may feel like you want to pull your hair out! Instead, take a breath and take that first step, relax. The next step, what is the next step? Literally? Prioritize the next steps and go from there. If you think about all your tasks in one huge chunk, of course, it will be overwhelming and will feel like a big storm cloud looking above you. Don’t do that to yourself. Baby steps...
I will save “organization” for another time, another post. However, what I will say is this. While our homes do not need to be immaculate, it does help to at least organize areas where you can find certain things, at the least, right, to save time you would spend on looking for things. For instance, my kids will every now and then wear their sneakers into the house and into their room, rather than leaving it in the mud area at the back door entrance. (On another note, I do have a pet peeve about not taking off shoes before entering the house.) When it is time to go out, they can’t find their sneakers. Hmmm...I am still occasionally reminding them of where the sneakers belong, and that’s ok, an occasional reminder. The same goes for their jackets and hats and backpacks. All their items need a home within your home, so they know where to find them. This will save all of you a lot of time in the long run, especially when you’re in a rush to get out the door.
So, little tricks and tools can help us moms with our 24/7 job. After all, we are only one person. Our kids and families may sometimes forget that, but it’s true. Sometimes I feel like I need a few more arms and faster legs, but God did not build me that way. Now that my boys are older, they can help with some of the chores and tasks at home. This helps me get some things done and it teaches them responsibility. Don’t get me wrong. Chores and tasks are not their favorite words and we’re not quite on auto-pilot with either. Kudos to those moms out there who have gotten their kids to that point. Baby steps. Loving nudges, sometimes a second tougher nudge. We believe that helping out with chores and tasks is an important part of the boys’ routine. It teaches them responsibility and a sense of self-worth. It also teaches them to be helpful. While it is a work in progress, my boys, for the most part, will help around the house, especially since my surgery; and it has been a lifesaver!
For those moms who CAN get everything perfect, I applaud you and please tell me how you do it! However, for those of us who love our kids and do the best we can every day, teaching our children to be kind and compassionate, giving, respectful and thankful, I applaud you just as well! We all have our different beliefs on the best way to raise our children, the right foods to eat- organic or not, the best schools to get into, the best brands to get, the best groups to join. No one way is the right or best way. What’s important is that we love our kids and we give them the best memories and help them create those memories for themselves. What’s important is that we take care of ourselves so we’re mentally and physically healthy enough to care for our kids. What’s important is that we teach our kids how to help others and help themselves. Ok, so I didn’t know that the science fair was during the day. I felt like the worst mother in the world! -And how does this help to create lasting and loving memories?! But you know what? That kid smiles every time I see him after school or at the end of my day at work. I kiss him and hug him and squeeze him. I tell him I love him and I ask him how his day went. That’s what your kids will remember. They’ll remember that love and concern, that smile and that hug.
Don’t beat yourself up. Baby Steps. Do your best! Be your best! Love yourself. Love your kids. Fluffy, maybe, but so true.
Successful mothers are not the ones that have never struggled. They are the ones that never give up, despite the struggles – Sharon Jaynes