My journal entry from January 31, 1999
All packed up and ready to leave the hospital, the nurse stops me at the door, arms outstretched, handing me my new baby. I have to take it home???
Until this moment, through months of pregnancy, setting up a nursery, and buying lots and lots of baby supplies, it hadn’t dawned on me what was about to happen. Not only would I take this baby home with me that day, I would also be carrying home all the emotions that come along when the life and well-being of another human falls on your shoulders. You are faced with decisions about things you hadn’t really thought important until that moment. Decisions about health, nutrition, which pediatrician you should use, what schools are the best, what sports are the safest, and which neighborhood you should live in. And moms have a terrible habit of looking to others to set the standard of what is the norm. In our social-media driven society, it is hard to watch other moms posting their best mommy-moments and not feel like you come up a little short.
I want to step up to say, I am in the same boat as you. Anything you’ve done, anywhere you’ve fallen short, I can honestly say “me too!” I’ve fed my kids Doritos straight out of the bag and called it dinner. I’ve had to loan my son a pair of my fuzzy socks because I was behind on laundry. We have skipped bathtime because we spent time in the pool so the kids are probably clean enough. I’ve sent my kids to bed early because I have a bag of mini donuts hidden in the back of the pantry that I would like to enjoy alone.
We all have those moments we would rather others not know anything about. And what do we do? We clean up those messes and take a photoshopped selfie with our kids so that everyone else thinks we are as perfect as they want us to think they are. It’s a vicious cycle mommas. We’ve got to stop the comparing and let go of the guilt. No mommy is a perfect mommy.
Several years ago I found myself in a mommy-pit. After months of complete bedrest, I had just given birth to our fourth child. She was a preemie, spent time in the NICU, and went home on a heart monitor. She required much attention and took up a lot of my time. Meanwhile, I had three other little ones who were homeschooled and needing me to focus. Aside from all the baby care, I spent my mornings teaching, my afternoons planning lessons, and my nights crying to my husband because I felt like each day was a failure. I was sure that my children would one day be in a therapy session crying their way through a suppressed memory about how I had failed to cut the crust off of their peanut butter sandwich. The final straw came when I let my middle daughter’s birthday slip up on me, leaving me totally unprepared for her big day. I found myself hyperventilating on the party aisle of a nearby dollar store trying to put together a party setup from the mismatched items they had available. We lived too far from town and I had too little time to put together anything great so with a little desperation and a lot of shame, I called all of our closest friends and begged them to come over for a party that should have been planned months earlier. I baked a half-burnt cake and smeared on some pink icing. With an unsteady hand, I did my best to write Happy Birthday Princess on the top and used small toys lying around the house for cake toppers. We did have balloons but couldn’t find streamers so we used household items like tin foil and toilet paper to make the house look festive. A few folks showed up, giftless because of the last minute invite, but instead sympathetically handed her some cash. We played some games that didn’t require preparation and after a round of the birthday song, we allowed our guests to leave. It was officially the worst birthday party ever given and that meant I was the worst mommy to ever exist. I sat in our living room that night and I cried. I just knew that I had scarred my child for life and that she would one day leave my home, never looking back. I walked the hall to her bedroom to tell her I was sorry for being such a terrible mother when I heard her talking to her sister. “Today was the best day ever. Maybe you can have a party like mine when it’s your birthday.”
The lesson to take away from this is simple. We might not have it all together but our kids don’t know that. They think that the moon hangs in the sky because we put it there. And that is exactly what we do. We hang their moon. We make them proud. We love them like there’s no tomorrow and they give us their utmost loyalty and refuse to let a negative thought about us cross their minds. They put us on a pedestal but being a mommy is hard work and we deserve that pedestal. So stand tall momma, knowing that your circumstances are different from any other mother’s and you only have to do your best. Whether you are the mom of girls or the mom of boys, the mom of a special needs child or an empty nest mom, you are the most important person in your child’s life. You might not have all the laundry done and only clean in the main parts of the house on a regular basis but you spend time with your babies and they think you’re great.
Now, wipe the powdered sugar off your chin and turn your shirt right side out cause you’ve got a moon to hang.
My journal entry from April 27, 2016
My heart is full as I watch my four beautiful children walk side-by-side through life. I have so much more than I deserve. I pray for joy in the midst of trials because no matter what I am going through, I always have my kids to look forward to.