Several years ago, a close confidant and I were on the phone. I was rushing around trying to clean up the kitchen before I needed to get the kids from school and wiping the brownie ingredients still scattered on the kitchen counter. The pan made a clinking noise as I pulled it out of the oven - louder than I realized - and I apologized to the woman I was speaking to. I will never forget what happened next. She said, “I’m so proud of you! You’re finally being a brownie mom. I always wanted you to be a brownie mom.”
A brownie mom?
I questioned her about what she meant. She replied, ” A brownie mom. Like on tv. Always with a fresh snack ready for the kids and a fun activity planned for after school. I always wanted you to be that kind of mom, not the mom that rushes and throws stuff together like when you were working.” I distinctly remember the overwhelming shame and shock I felt from that comment. But instead of relaying that, I simply said, ” Thanks! I want to make you proud. Hopefully the kids like the brownies.”
The reason why this moment still sits in the back of my head years later, is because I really wasn’t a “brownie mom.” I wasn’t the most organized or well put-together. I was far from a tv sitcom mom with everything in its place and positivity and creative energy bursting from the seams. I wondered if I should try to be that mom. Pinterest perfect and Instagram documented. But that has never been me. And truthfully, I don’t think it ever will be me.
As mothers I think we all do our fair share of comparison. We spend time wondering if the kind of mother we are is the “right” kind of mother. If we are “brownie mother” enough to please our kids and our significant other and our relatives. If we are “brownie mother” enough to meet the sometimes ambiguous measures we set for ourselves.
Although I have lost touch with the woman who I had this conversation with, if we had this conversation, again, here are the things I now know to be true:
I am a mother.
I am not a perfect mother, and I don’t want to be. I am a mother that does the best she can to be loving. When I fall short, I admit my fault, take ownership and talk to my kids about how I can do better.
I am a mother that cheers loud on the sidelines. I cheer loud on the sidelines of soccer and football games, of Christmas concerts, of countertop homework sessions and changes of attitude. I will follow my kids to the ends of the earth and back- just to let them know I will ALWAYS be in their corner. I will cheer whether we are winning or losing- because I am cheering for my kids to be all they can be- not because of a victory.
I am not a perfect mother. I am often rushed and not always organized. But I will continue to try to refine that quality- because I don’t want my kids to struggle with the very things that I struggle with. I talk to them about what works and doesn’t work for me- and what they have found works for them. I am honest about these faults and my need for growth, in hopes that my kids know that perfect is not the goal- progress and work on being the best version of yourself, is.
I am a mother that values deep connection. I will lay in bed at night with my kids and talk for the next 100 years if they will let me. I will put a worm on a hook and get my hair wet in the swimming pool and play lightning in the driveway if it means they will let me into the deepest corners of their minds and hearts. That is where I always want to be with them- close enough to know their truth.
I am not a perfect mother. Sometimes I get caught-up in my own stuff. I step in when I’m not needed, just to fulfill my own need to be relevant, and enable my kids to take the easy route, because I long for the days when my biggest worries were if they just put a pebble in their mouth. Sometimes I am quick tempered or project my own shortcomings onto my kids- forgetting that the strength I have found in overcoming my weaknesses and how it made me confident in the person I am, today. Sometimes I love my kids in the way I need to be loved- not the way they need to be loved. But I know it when I do it…And will continue to raise myself- to finish growing all the parts of my younger self that come out of me in motherhood.
I am a mother that will sit in struggle. I will talk through a disappointment and listen to a broken heart. I will hold the line with a boundary I want to give into, as it breaks my own heart and mends my child’s. I will put cold washcloths on sick foreheads and will myself to morph into the version of the mother my children need for the moment- even if it’s a version of me that I wished didn’t need to exist.
I am a mother.
I will love like a mother and fail like a mother and do the best I can. Just like all mothers do.
Dear mothers, it’s not our job to sit in shame or wonder about your ability to live up to someone’s expectations of your behavior as a mother. You are not a perfect mother. And you are not meant to be.
You are a mother, and you love like a mother. Sometimes you love with brownies, sometimes you love with worms - but the love is all that matters.
You are a mother. And you will be everything you thought you would be and nothing you ever imagined- all at the same time. Because that is life as a mother.
Whatever kind of mother you are- is exactly the mother you were meant to be