I recently read a blog by one of my favorite bloggers-Jen @ PIWTPITT. She talked about being the World's Okayest Mom. That got me thinking-what makes the world's greatest mom? We hear about Super Moms, Soccer Moms, Perfect Moms, and all kinds of other titles. But what does a woman do to earn one of these titles?
While I was thinking about this, I saw visions of the mom who drives her kids everywhere, packs them perfectly healthy lunches every day, bakes cookies, volunteers on the kids' PTA or home schools her kids, plans play dates, and still has energy to clean the house (which is spotless) at the end of the day. I don't know about you, but I can never live up to that.
I will never win the "World's Greatest Mom" award from the world. No outside person would look at my struggle in motherhood and think I'm great. But there is something I realized not long ago-it's not the world that I need to approve of my mothering skills. (I almost called them "techniques," but that would imply a level of planning and consistency that I have not achieved.) What does matter is what my children think.
The first thing I think about, is what do my kids think of my mothering? Do they think I'm great because I never upset them? As much as I enjoy their approval, they should think I'm mean once in awhile. Otherwise, I'm not doing my job. I want to believe that my kids are the best ones ever, getting everything right the first time. We all want that. But the truth is that they make mistakes and bad choices and I have to call them on it. They are going to call me mean because I tell them they can't take their favorite comic book to school. They are going to hate it when I tell them to turn the lights out and go to sleep when they want to finish "just one more thing." So clearly, I can't reach for a perfect score from my kids.
But what my kids do like is time with me. It's not about throwing a $400 birthday party at a great amusement park. It's not about always getting McDonald's for dinner. Just ten minutes of playing Uno with them goes further than all of that. When I do that, I give them something to hold onto: my time. It costs me nothing but time to play a game or read a book with them. Sometimes my youngest (he's seven) and I just sit on the couch and each read our own books. He loves this time and will talk about it for days. And all I had to sacrifice was my idea of the perfect, compact schedule.
I don't know about you, but schedules are almost sacred with me. I plan exactly how I'm going to pick up the kids, when we'll get home, the steps needed to make dinner and more. It's not an easy sacrifice to give in to changing it, but I'm learning to be more flexible.
The other thing they notice is when I do something unexpected that makes things better for them. This week I had a PTA meeting to attend. The original plan was for them to stay home with Daddy while I attended the meeting-which wasn't optional. At the last minute, my husband got called out of town on his first-ever business trip. Since I have to attend the meeting, they are coming with me. I had about ten minutes to spare and no idea what the conditions at the meeting would be. I packed them a dinner of sunflower butter and jelly sandwiches. This is a school function and the last thing I need is someone to yell at me about peanut butter. Thank goodness I'm sensitive to the stuff myself and have alternatives around. I also packed a huge sketch pad, a pencil each, and a pack of crayons. I picked them up at the after school program and we went straight to the meeting. When we arrived, they were scared that they would be bored. That's when I told them that I had their sketch pad and stuff. The first thing that my oldest said was, "You're the awesomest mom ever!" And all I did was take a minute to pack a sketch pad.
That is so much easier than baking from scratch, planning play dates, or even getting a babysitter. And that's the only award I need.