Tonight was Reading Night at my kindergartener’s school. All week he’s been talking about it – been ready and set and could hardly wait. We weren’t originally going to attend, but it was so important to him that I made it important to me. So we did all the stuff – making bookmarks and books and listening to story-tellers and getting new books and so forth. And at the end, when we got back in the van, he cried.
Did you have a good time?
No, he told me with a weepy voice.
I wanted to go to McDonalds with my friend.
I sat in my van and just shook my head. Honestly. I did what we’re supposed to do as moms – show up, listen to stuff, laugh with them, hold their hand and then at the end when I say no and the hypothetical plans shift the super fun day instantly becomes horrible. Or at least in the words of a six year old. A six year old, due to not being able to eat gluten doesn’t even really know what McDonalds is.
Isn’t this what motherhood so often is?
Sometimes it’s just plain and simple hard because we think we’re awesome and then moments fall apart in what are supposed to be our rising star pinnacle mom moments. In fact, tonight as I sat in that parking lot I almost threw my hands up in the air and just laughed.
Motherhood is this crazy mixture of doing the right stuff and thinking we’re a great mom only to be met with tears when one thing doesn’t go right. And yeah, I know he should be grateful and all of that and even writing that I had that twinge of thinking man, now they’re going to think I don’t raise my kids to be thankful. But, I wrote anyway. Because this is what real life is about. Real life is full of awesome expectations turned into a puddle of tears. It’s of trips to Disneyworld met with the stomach flu. It’s of boring trips that turn amazing. It’s of late mornings and broken plates and washing machines that don’t work.
It doesn’t need to be shoved under the facade of perfection. Because we all have real. Each one of us.
It’s kind of the story of motherhood.
You know what?
I drove home from that Kindergarten Reading Night happy.
He might have been sad.
But I tried.
And so I let myself be happy. Like a real deep happy knowing I showed up happy. Despite the tears.
Do you know the power in trying every day?
Because being a mom isn’t always that easy.
Sometimes we cut ourselves down and see the tears in the car afterwards or the LATE written on homework or the fact that they lost mittens or that dinner was Mac&Cheese (I know, always Mac & Cheese. And if you need to read what I really think of Mac&Cheese read Why Macaroni and Cheese Doesn’t Define Motherhood). We grade ourselves on a sliding scale with us at the bottom and everyone else having it together. Maybe we need to give ourselves an A for showing up, trying even when the day looks like mine.
Being a mom doesn’t mean that life moves perfectly. It doesn’t mean our kids stand in line never messing up. It doesn’t mean that pots don’t boil over and the crayons don’t make their way into the dryer. Which, oh my word, is the worst. It doesn’t mean that we never cry. It doesn’t mean that kids aren’t disrespectful. It doesn’t mean there are mornings where the milk went sour, there are no waffles, no apples and breakfast at the last minutes is a bag of chips eaten in the car because we were running late. Because, well, since we’re being truthful that’s happened to me too.
It just means trying.
Even when it’s hard.
Sometimes I think I carry on my back, even after being a mom for almost twenty years, a giant backpack full of expectations that I slam on myself. Ridiculous ones. Except for tonight. He could be upset about McDonalds but it wasn’t going to rob me of the joy of watching his face light up when the story-tellers made silly clomping noises for the moose. Or how proud he was of his bookmark with a robot drawn on the bottom and three puffy glittery stars on the top. And, you know, in fact, within minutes of getting home he was a new guy. The tears went away and he told his brothers about McDonalds and then he got over it and moved on.
Maybe you are a great mom just the way you are.
Have you ever thought about that?
Maybe you just keep trying to do your best. Maybe you too sit in a car with kids that are having a moment and you just let yourself be proud of you for trying. It’s easy to allow the moments of frustration taint the moments of wonderful. Moments of normal.
Motherhood is a whole lot of normal frustrating beautiful empowering humbling moments.
Let that settle deep in your heart right now.
The power of trying.
So look at your day now with new eyes. Don’t look at all the moments that are negative but the beautiful. It would have been so easy for me to call the Reading night a fail instead of missing the wonderful that it really was – not the 5% that was just, well, a normal six year old late at night.
Carry on brave mom.
You’ve got a whole lot of you trying for you to see.
I know what you’ve done.
You mothered today.
Yes, sometimes being a mom is just plain and simple hard. I’ll say that. You can say that. It’s okay. Saying it doesn’t make you a bad mom – it just makes you real.
Now don’t look the other way – don’t look at the 5% where things break down but look at where you tried. Look at you giving and loving and being there. Look at you holding hands for years and wiping away tears and just showing up day after day after day after day for them.
It’s making me cry thinking of what we do as moms.
You change lives. Yes, you. One reading night, one shoe tying lesson, one college trip, one slammed door, one dinner that no one likes, one sleepless night after another.
ps. Tonight that kindergartner boy of mine walked down the stairs and said Mom I really love you. And then asked for more juice. And when I said no his world ended again.