According to my 20-something childless self, I am a crappy mom. Before I had my two boys, I had a vision of the kind of mother I would be. The reality has turned out nothing like that pretty picture in my young head.
Before having children, I thought I would be a patient mother, with the ability to keep my voice calm and my temper at bay. In reality, my kids know how to push every single one of my buttons like no one else I have ever encountered. And after a day, or sometimes just an hour, of getting under my skin and finding every one of my pet peeves, my voice rises and I sometimes let words tumble out that I shouldn't.
My fresh-out-of-college-with-a-teaching-degree self was positive I would do enriching activities at home with my children and fill their days with educational offerings and learning opportunities. These days, my exhausted-at-the-end-of-a-seven-hour-work-day self, who sandwiched work between getting kids up and out and then back in, can barely find the time to read stories other than right before bed. By the time backpacks are unloaded and dinner is made and dishes are done, I couldn't come up with an enriching activity even if there were enough minutes left before bedtime to actually do it with my kids.
The younger version of me was sure I would never spoil my kids, lest I end up with kids who felt entitled to more and ungrateful for what they had. Just yesterday, I closed the door to the playroom rather than looking at the overflowing bins of too many toys. I walked past a stack of books on the floor, because I knew they would not fit on the already-full shelves of any of the five bookcases in my home holding children's books. And just a few weeks ago I sighed in momentary defeat as my older child complained that he didn't get the "big bag" of cotton candy at the fair and he had to share with his younger brother, who was asking what we were going to go and do tomorrow before we had even left the fairgrounds.
My 20-something year old self knew I would discipline my children calmly, only using logical consequences and instilling lessons with every poor choice my child made. Instead, I yell more than I should and sometimes resort to "no dessert" no matter what the transgression, and simply explain they can't do it because I said so. I take their poor choices too personally some days and heap the guilt on a poor six- or three-year-old when I do.
Am I the mom I thought I would be? Not even close. I am a crappy mom by those young and naïve standards. But I am the mom who hugs and kisses my boys every chance I get. Who whispers "I love you" secrets in their ear when we're in the middle of a crowd or when they are fast asleep. I am the mom who takes the job too seriously to waste time getting hung up on not doing it perfectly. I am the mom who keeps trying to do it better, day after day after long day. I may not be the mom I thought I would be, but I'm pretty sure my 60-something-year-old self will look back and think I was a pretty damn good one.
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