One morning last week, I decided I was going to commit to really spending more unplugged time being present with my kids.
I sat on the floor. The baby handed me a toy, and I couldn't help but smile. BG and I did a puzzle. I thought, Man, I'm totally winning at parenting.
Then she decided the game she wanted to play was to hide the shark puzzle in her toy box, peek at it, run across the room and throw herself with full force into my lap, giggle screaming directly in my face that there was a shark in the toybox.
It was funny and endearing. Once.
We did that for another twenty minutes.
I'm not going to lie. I didn't love it. But I did it. And I laughed. And I screamed. Every time.
And after 20 minutes of that I was spent, and I turned the TV back on.
There was a second when I felt like a rock star. I was winning at motherhood. I had played peek-a-boo with the shark.
And then that other voice kicked in. Are you freaking kidding me? Twenty minutes? Out of your whole day? That's all the time you can spend on the floor with your kids? And you didn't even enjoy it. Why aren't you enjoying it? You're supposed to enjoy it.
Yesterday, BG wanted to color in the morning. She'd gotten a new art set this weekend, and she wanted to try all the crayons, the markers, the paints. She sat there prattling away to me and coloring. I asked her questions, cleaned the kitchen around her. I sat down and painted with her. I was a total rock star.
This is what you're proud of? This? This is nothing. You should be doing this all the time. You should be doing more.
Every time I hold the baby or wear her and she reaches up and pets my face and I kiss her, I am overcome with joy. For about five seconds.
Your poor baby. She never gets your undivided attention. You hardly ever even write about her. She's going to think you don't love her as much. She just gets dragged around after everyone else, and she's so sweet about it. You don't deserve her, mama. She's too good for you.
Oh for the love of coffee.
My daughters are so loved. So loved. And they are crazy about me because I'm their mom. And they're happy and smart and kind because of the time I've spent with them and the things I've modeled for them. I listen to them, let them lead the way, watch and acknowledge what they create, listen to their stories, play their games. I am here, all the time, more than I ever give myself credit for.
I am winning.
And you, mama, you are winning too. Even when you don't feel like it. Even when that voice tells you that it isn't enough, tells you that you don't have anything to be proud of, that it's not okay for you to be happy. Even when the wheels are coming off the chains and everyone is screaming in your face and you want to put your head through the wall.
It's never going to be perfect. You're never going to get it all right. You aren't going to be able to do everything, at least not all at the same time.
Thank God for that.
When I am writing while my daughter colors in her journal, that is winning. I am being true to myself and modeling being a human being with depth. When I stare into space and sip coffee while the girls cuddle me and watch TV, that is winning. Because, cuddling. And coffee. Obviously. When I yell and then apologize that is winning. Because losing your temper is human and apologizing is an important life skill.
When all I can do is the next right thing and get through the day until bedtime, I am winning. Because I made it.
You are winning, mama. Every day.
Story is a teacher turned SAHM to two beautiful little girls. She blogs at http://hardtomommy.blogspot.com.
More from parenting