Now though I have already admitted that in some ways, I’m trying to do everything, I am definitely not trying to be super mom. There is a caliber of mommyhood that I will never achieve and really don’t even want to try to attempt. I don’t understand who these women are that bake cookies in the middle of the night so their elf on a shelf can make a naughty mess. Do they have full time nannies and daily “cleaning friends” (as we call them in my house because they are my best friends every other week when they arrive to sprinkle magic happy marriage and happy mommy dust in their wake)? Because I can tell you the only thing I want to do at 8pm when both of my children are snoring away is to turn on my TV and flop on my couch with a glass of zinfandel and lose myself in Nashville or Hawaii 5-0 with the hubby.
So I am definitely not trying to be a perfect mom. I won’t ever be the woman that made all her own baby food or cooks a meal from scratch every night or sews 30 costumes for the school musical or heads up the gala committee every year—as much as there are many days that I would like to be that person. But once in a blue moon neurotic over-caffeinated moment I get the grand idea to make something. Maybe it’s a brief rebellion against consumerism or this lofty attempt to live up to the abilities of my hippie mom who did grind her own baby food, did cook dinner every night, and kept me and my brother in cloth diapers (little man had exactly 5 months of cloth diapers and baby girl has had exactly 0).
So a year ago December I decided I was going to knit a Christmas stocking for little man. I mean, how difficult is it to make a Christmas stocking? Just because the pattern is titled “intermediate” (and I didn’t even know what to do with the stocking pattern anyway so I just kept it buried in my yarn bag) and I didn’t actually own any knitting needles and didn’t know the difference between a knit stitch and a purl stitch, I decided it was a great idea to knit a Christmas stocking. So four trips to the Knitting Cottage later, two sets of circular needles, and three start-overs, I finished little man’s Christmas stocking…in November the following year. “I didn’t know you knew how to knit,” my friend said when I proudly texted out pictures of the completed version for my friends to ooh and aah over…just in time for Christmas this year (my very metro guy-friend gave me the highest of highest compliments when he exclaimed: “It looks like it came from Anthropology!”). “I still don’t,” I told her, holding the completed stocking. “I watched videos on you tube.” For any of you who get similarly inspired, there’s an amazing lovely blond woman who has step by step videos to follow. I still can never remember her website but google “very pink Christmas stocking” and you’ll get there.
And then for little man’s birthday I decided I was actually going to bake his birthday cake. I sell myself to my clients as being at least somewhat creative so dog gone it, I’m going to make a cake! For birthday #1, a local bakery provided a beautiful pirate ship cake. For #2, I headed to Williams Sonoma with a gift card I had been holding onto for 5 years since husband and I got married in search of cake pans. I’m such a cheapskate. When I showed up at the counter with two large round 16” pans, I was greeted by the raised eyebrows of the salesman. “I’m investing in 16 years of birthday cakes right here,” I said.
Then armed with my girlfriend’s mom’s amazing carrot cake recipe (she too being from the hippie generation that made their own cakes), I set to work. Though I confess to buying pre-shredded carrots from Trader Joes, I did mix spoon, bake, cool, frost, and decorate all on my own. And when I was done, I swear light shone all around me and a chorus of Hallelujah was sung by mystical voices as I held up my creation for the world to ooh and aah over.
Do I really do all of my parenting for the ooh’s and aah’s of those around me? Maybe that’s what my problem is. My mommy group friend told me that in a pole, 85% of mom’s admitted to judging other moms. And, as she says, the other 15% were lying. She’s right. I judge. We judge. We judge each other’s birthday cake creations, the way our children come dressed to school or church or show up in pajamas in the store, the way our kids listen or don’t listen to us, if they nap or don’t nap, or if they can do a 1000 different feats by themselves or, horror of horrors, are not there yet. I can’t tell you how my slow moving, methodical, watchful, cautious but deliberate kid is the bane of my existence sometimes. No, he’s 9 months and not crawling yet. No, he’s 16 months and not walking by himself yet. No, he’s 2 and doesn’t jump off the side of the pool yet. No, he’s 2.5 and doesn’t want to go down the big slide yet.
Little man does not do things until he is ready. I’ve had to own his cautiousness and watchfulness and I tell him he’s perfect just the way he is. He is exactly who he is supposed to be and my job, I believe, is to discover who he is and let him be who he is—not to compare him to his fantastically crazy best friend who had him in a choke hold in the pool the other day…and did I mention that she’s a girl?
My constant refrain to myself is let him be who he is and discover who he is. A wise older mom-friend of mine recently said that “you can never be a good mom, you can only be a faithful mom.” A faithful mom. I can be faithful to my beliefs and be present with my kid and, to me, that’s being faithful. For some of us, being faithful involves religious faith and for some of us it does not. But I think we can all figure out what it means, for each of us, to be faithful to our kids and family and at least that’s what I want to strive for.
At times I probably need to ignore what my mommy friends from little man’s pre-school or from church or from chit chat’s at Starbucks say, because when I start to compare is when I start to feel like a failure and the never attainable goal of being super mom begins to creep in again. Though I do somewhat enjoy my psychotic over caffeinated super mom moments, (I did just proudly parade around my 2nd birthday cake creation for little man’s 3rd birthday and am almost done with baby girls’ Christmas stocking…at least I’ll be done in time to hang it next year), I realize I am way less jittery and probably significantly more enjoyable to my husband and babies when I focus on being faithful mom instead.
Judgment, comparisons—what do I really get out of them? What do we get? Aren’t all of us mommies really on the same mission anyways? Aren’t we all just trying to love our kids and do our best to point them in the right direction? And, if possible, look fantastic doing it!