Sunday, January 8, 2012

Me v. The Perfect Mother

A friend told me a story the other day about how a woman approached her in a store to criticize the clothes her daughter was dressed in.  REALLY?

Come on, people.  Being a mother is hard enough without us turning on each other.  The story irked me, to say the least.  Who among us mothers is perfect?

Most especially not me.  So I did a comparison between me and the perfect mother.

1)  A perfect mother never leaves the house without being perfectly groomed.  This unnatural phenomenon extends to her offspring.  Their socks match, as do their gloves, hair clips, and Ugg boots.

I leave the house with dog slobber on my nice black work pants.  My children are dressed, don't exactly match, and one's wearing the same shirt for the third time this week.  Hey, they look decent, and they don't smell bad.

2)  A perfect mother bakes cookies and cupcakes for her child's class to celebrate her child's birthday.  These cupcakes are even placed in cute little boxes with bows.

I buy pre-made at the grocery store and hope I don't squash the icing in the car.

3) A perfect mother feeds her children organic, free range food, with lots of healthy fruit and vegetables. 

I've decided that french fries are, on occasion, a good substitute for vegetables.

4)  A perfect mother goes on and on about how perfect her Stepford child is, how little so-in-so got all A's, is learning Spanish, plays basketball, and the piano.   

I'm raising two human beings that other people would probably LIKE to turn into Stepford children, sometimes.  However, they are happy, healthy, and thankfully nowhere near perfect.

Everywhere we go, my daughter is mistaken for a boy.  She keeps her curly hair short and wears boy clothes.  She likes it.  I'm okay with that.  She's incredibly affectionate, curious, and observant.  She struggles in math and reading at school.  She'd rather be playing outside with her friends than doing most anything else.

My son son loves to play video games.  He's got a black belt in karate.  He plays the trumpet, and he has ADHD.  If you say tomato, he'll say tomahto.  He's intelligent and has a great imagination.  Remind me to tell you about the time he asked me about dinosaurs in heaven...

5) The perfect mother never neglects her children.  She eats, sleeps, and breathes them.

I hold a day job as an HR Manager.  I'm a writer.  I'm a wife.  I'm a mother.  At any one time, one of those roles suffers.  Balance isn't about balancing all the time.  It's about knowing sometimes one role takes precendence over the other.  For example, a major deadline at work will result in me working late.  Or I have a scene in my current manuscript that I'm obsessing over, and it consumes my every thought.  Or my child has a game, and I have to leave work early.  Or my husband has a major surgery, requiring most everything else to be put on hold.

We're all, at any one time, juggling multiple roles and their responsibilities.  I beg of you.  The next time you see a mother and you disagree with the way she's taking care of her child, instead of being judgemental, have a little empathy.

I'll get off my soapbox now.