A few days ago I was semi-frantically running around my house in an attempt to return it to something that resembled order. As I eyed the pile of dirty dishes in the sink, I heard a tiny voice behind me say, “Mommy, you sit next by me.”
I turned around to see my 2-year-old emphatically patting the small spot next to her on the coffee table that she isn’t supposed to climb up on at all. Her dark curls were bouncing and her legs were swinging. “Please, Mommy, you want play with me?” I sighed.
The truth is that I did want to play with her. I had worked much of the day and hadn’t seen her. However, I also needed the dishes done, dinner made, the laundry folded and the dogs walked. And while I was at it, I should sweep the floor, organize paperwork, and go through my daughter’s clothes to see what I needed to get her for summer. The recycling needed to be taken out and I forgot to make her doctor’s appointment yesterday. And why in the world couldn’t I keep everything straight?
I often find myself questioning silly things like this as a mother. Am I making the right choices and decisions? Am I a good mother? Sometimes I feel like other moms have an answer book that is just perpetually out of my reach.
On Valentine’s Day, I went to the store and dutifully picked out a box of non-candy, paper valentines for my daughter to take to school. I wrote her name on all of them and was feeling pretty good about myself for getting things done in time. That is, until I saw the Facebook pictures start popping up. Friend after friend proudly showing off Pinterest-worthy creations. Robots crafted out of candy boxes, hand-created valentines with adorable sayings — all personalized to perfection. I had no idea that this was even a “thing”. I am not crafty.
I spent the rest of the evening convincing myself that my daughter would be the only one without these spectacular treats and think that I love her less. I imagined this as the turning point in her life where it would all start to go downhill to a life of crime and it would be all my fault. (Yes, I have an active imagination.) The truth is, there were a few of the crafty valentines, but the majority were just like mine.
I look up to my own mother as someone who I want to emulate. In my memories, she was kind and loving, patient and fun. When I brought this up to her recently, she didn’t have the same memories. She recalled times she lost her temper and rushed us. She said she wished she could’ve been more patient, like me. She is still questioning these imaginary faults when I think she was the greatest mom in the world.
In the end, I sat next to my daughter and we played for 15 minutes. Then I got up and did the dishes. But it would have been OK for me to just do the dishes, or to just play with her and forget the dishes altogether. These small and day-to-day choices are not the things she will remember. She will know she was loved and cared for just as I was.
So this Mother’s Day I plan to enjoy myself. No judging. Just fun with my kid. I hope that all moms will do the same. Even if you are one of those awesome crafty ones.
Happy Mother’s Day!
– Sara Kuhn is a Parenting Program participant and volunteer.