It’s not a competition.
Wait… is it? Motherhood is, and should be, a deeply personal and private experience. How we choose to raise our kids, feed them, discipline them, etc., varies by individual. We are all different in our beliefs, cultures, and heritage. So it stands to reason that there is no one “right” way to be a Mom. In these days of social media and over-sharing, though, it feels much more like a contest. Those of us “less than” moms – I’ll call us the “non goops” – who don’t always have our shirts neatly pressed or dress our kids in coordinating lobster-print boat shoes for sushi day at the prep school, it can be overwhelming.
There are innumerable blogs, websites, and articles out there on the grand ol’ internet about being a mom. How to be a better mom. The things we should be doing, but aren’t. The things we are doing but stop doing immediately or face ruining our child’s existence forever. The things we didn’t even know were things, we are so far behind, but we need to buy for our kids, make them by hand or from scratch, avoid doing or our kids might die, continue doing or they might die, things to teach them, tell them, make sure they know, make sure they are aware of, sign them up for, keep them away from, feed them, bathe them in, sing to them, DIY for them, protect them from, and so on…
I have been killing myself the past couple of days trying to keep my son occupied. He is 5 years old, and not in school yet because he has a late birthday. So I decided that we would do “projects” every day to learn. Along with projects, we have meals and snacks and karate (or “ninja school”, he says), lego building and swimming and church activities. Our routine up to this past week has been more relaxed. I keep reading articles that make me feel pressured to deliver, so I am trying to step it up. I don’t want to be the one mom at carpool whose son isn’t already counting in 3 languages and taking Chinese calligraphy lessons from a certified master. My days have been PACKED. So much so, that I barely got to eat yesterday, did not work out, and did not nap. Yes I know naps are not a necessity but I could have really used a nap yesterday.
Today, I took a different approach. We got up, ate (non gf, non organic, very tasty) breakfast, got dressed, and went to a playground. The weather was gorgeous. I sat on a shaded bench, reading a book while he ran around and sang songs to himself. Do you know what happened?? Nothing. He did not die. He did not fall down a black whole of insecurity because I was ignoring him. Seriously. He was delighted. I was at peace. It was great.
In that moment I was reminded of my own childhood. I was raised by grandparents, mostly, (mom worked a lot) and I remember thinking that they were the best ever. Literally. No kid was as lucky as me and my brother. We had it all – a house to live in, food to eat, clothes, and on Fridays (grocery day) I got to eat a treat from the grocery store. WOO HOO! I was living the high life, and life was GOOD.
The funniest thing about all the best days will those ‘best’ people, is that at no point did they make me feel like I was the center of the universe. The sun, I was assured, neither rose or set out of my bum. I did not get brand-new clothes (lots of hand-me downs and hand-sewn dresses), I did not eat fast food, there was not much tv, no video games, no DIY projects to keep me occupied. It was more like, “go outside until lunchtime.” So we did. We are better for it.
After the playground today, I made homemade french fries (method at bottom) and reheated some leftover pork chops and broccoli. While we ate together, my son talked about life (5 year olds have deep thoughts!) and then suddenly, out of nowhere, he looked up at me and said “Mommy, you are the BEST Mommy there ever was.” And you know something? He meant it.
As adults we don’t remember the outfits we wore (less the tragic, embarrassing ones) but we do remember words of affirmation. We don’t appreciate eating twinkies as much as we appreciate those days in the sun laughing with people from our own tribe. Lobster-print boat shoes? Forget about it. I had my step-mom’s old high-top Reeboks. To me, they were beautiful because she was beautiful, and because she loved me.
My point is, competing with other moms is silliness, when we won’t know them in 20 years anyway. Enriching our kids’ lives has nothing to do with what other moms are doing and EVERYTHING to do with how much of ourselves we pour into them in every moment. Loving words. Homemade meals. Story time. Making up silly songs. Praying together (he always spontaneously hugs me). These are the criteria for “best mom”, and how wonderful that it’s an honor we can all achieve.
Homemade French Fries (super simple)
prep time: 5 mins cook time: 25 mins total time: 30 mins
Select 2 medium red potatoes. Rinse. Cut into slices or squares.
Place potato pieces in a bowl, drizzle with sesame oil (a little at a time – it goes a long way!)
Add salt as desired (again, a little should do), mix with hands.
Spread out on aluminum foil on baking sheet
Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes (depending on how thick the pieces are) or until tender.
Serve plain or with ketchup. Pat self on back. Receive hugs.