So many people have come up to me and told me I’m a good mom. I smile, but inwardly I chuckle and then I groan. As they’re telling me my great things I’m counting down the list of places where I have lost it and messed up and totally, 100% failed. Potty training being one of them, I’m just going to be honest. You’ll never see me writing about a way to make that work in a week. The only way I survived that was wine. Well, that and Survivor on television.
But good at motherhood?
I honestly have had no clue most of my motherhood journey. The first night my oldest daughter, who is now 22, came home from the hospital I unstrapped her from the carseat and placed her on a blanket in the middle of her room. I stared at her, terrified, and then I started to cry. So, of course, she cried. Which made me panic and I cried a bit harder.
Through the tears I looked at her. Little, helpless, needing one person: me. Me, the person whose never been a mom before. Me, the person with the doubts. Me, the one wondering what to do. Me.
And then, something came over me, and I picked her up. I still had no clue what I was doing. But I picked her up and rocked and walked and fed her and changed her and cried and figured it out.
I didn’t know then about potty training and periods and ear piercing and talks about boys and talks about friendships and how they would fight over things like whose turn it was to play the Wii. I just kept thinking pick her up and one day you’ll figure it out.
I would take her to church, all dressed up in her new clothes. That’s what happens with the first child. You have the baby shower and get tons of new dresses. By the third or fourth you’ll look through the old clothes and think the stain on it is okay and you can get away with it. But back then? The options were endless. But despite the outer perfection I still had no clue what I was doing. I’d walk into church and sit down and try to smile super confident.
I’ve got all together was the smile. But inside I knew I was faking it.
But I kept on going. Trying. Attempting to figure it out.
It felt like I was pretending at motherhood, in a way. Faking.
But I kept faking, at least in my head. Year after year.
So many many many places I walked into not having a clue. I’d look at the other moms in the sea of moms and I would wonder do any of them feel like they’re pretending too at this motherhood thing? And then the baby would cry and I would know how to bounce her on my hip while smiling at the now preschooler on the stage.
The years kept passing. More and more times of me feeling like just fake it and you’ll figure it out. Preschool and school and middle school and driving lessons (and holy moly that is the scariest) and college and so forth. Tears and joys and a whole bunch of nobody talks about normal and routine. And then, one day, there I was in the middle of Seattle watching my oldest child, that little baby who I put on the blanket because I didn’t know what to do next, graduate with honors from college.
I may have felt like I faked it so many times, but in that moment, I knew I made it.
So sweet mom, listen to me, this older sage of a mom. hahaha. Not really a sage, but I’ve waited my whole life to use the world “older” in a new way. Motherhood is a whole tremendous giant amount of jumping into the deep end and figuring out how to swim. You WILL NOT KNOW what to do most of the time and THAT IS OKAY. What I’ve really learned that matters, and what most of motherhood is all about, is not that you know the answers it is that you decided you were going to swim no matter what.
Listen you may feel like you are faking it, but that is okay.
How else do you learn, my friend? How else do you learn other than being willing to be vulnerable and to put yourself in those spots where you don’t have a clue?
I learned how to mother day after day after week after week after month after month after year after year. That is how. Even though I have a list of places I’ve messed up, my friends, I’m going to be honest, the list of places I’ve excelled is way way longer. We just don’t talk about those victories that much. We kind of mumble and don’t share about those places because we don’t want to appear boasting. But moms, moms need hope. They need hope that one day the kitchen counter will be clean or that they’ll survive the terrible twos and threes and that the teenager that yells I hate you will one day tell you thank you. And all of us get to those places of triumph in a place of fear.
I was so afraid that day with my oldest daughter. But I didn’t let fear stop me. Instead, I felt like I faked it. But I didn’t fake it – I figured it out. And we made it.
There is nothing wrong about faking it until you make it. Because perhaps it’s not faking at all.
It’s figuring out motherhood.
So sweet mom, don’t expect to have the answers until you go through the journey. It is only when you’ve walked the path where you can look back and think I made it. Until then, just try, just love, just show up and just know that every time you give you change a life.