Every day I ask myself am I a good mother; was I a good mother; was I maybe even a great mother.
To be fair, I know I’m a good one. But am I as good as I could be? Am I as good as that woman is. Am I as good as I can be for my daughter right now?
We mamas so often–it seems to me–talk about what we don’t do: I don’t do this enough, I’m not enough of this, I could do more of this. I don’t hear myself, or really many mothers I know, talking about where we do a wonderful job. Where we’re truly happy with who we are. And I wonder about that. We could blame the media–and God knows I do a number on myself when I read too many blogs and spend too much time on Instagram—and it could just be the nature of being a mom. That we always want to do the best for our kids, and I, for one, wish I could do and be the best in all areas all of the time.
I know when I’m scared I missed the memo and have neglected some essential piece of child-rearing I start comparing myself to other mothers. I know a woman with a daughter Luciana’s age and she hasn’t been away from her for more than an hour. Even after her daughter goes to sleep. When I first heard that I felt so threatened by it. Her daughter walked early and already uses the toilet. If I’d stayed home 100% would Luciana be doing those things too? Am I a lesser mother because I have said yes to work, because I have gone to yoga and done errands solo and taken time for me? Conversely I have friends who are on TV series and I ask myself Am I a Less-Good Mother because I don’t pursue my career with the same voracity that I did before having her? Am I modeling someone who gives up; someone who hides; someone who can’t keep lots of balls in the air at once? It’s a dark secret, comparing ourselves, because part of being a Great Mother is loving all the other mothers rather than giving them the stink-eye because they built a fort the size of the living room with repurposed boxes and neon duct tape.
I’m working this week—rehearsing and performing in a reading of a beautiful new play. So I’m not a great cook this week —I’m gone all day; I get back late. I’m a great artist, and a great baby-snuggler in the morning, and a very willing dance-party participant at 8am. I remind myself that next week we can make the muffins she loves and try new green juice recipes (because you know I feel inferior that my child does not, so far, like green juice) and make the dress-up bin I’ve had on my mind for a while. I remind myself that I will actually do these things and that it’s OK they’re not happening today–she has all she needs and people who love her and play with her and there’s food to eat. Yet I’m mad at myself for not making play-dough in a month even though so far Luciana has yet to like it. That the weather is warming up and I haven’t gotten the outside together for her (even though I know she’s happy playing with rocks). What I don’t focus on or say to my friends is how Luciana and I have conversations now. How I used to fear she didn’t like books and we spend probably 3 hours reading a day. How I am so proud of myself for how I handled her first huge tantrum and how I know I’m giving her a spiritual foundation even if Sky and I aren’t strictly religious.
I’m challenging myself this week to speak well of me. I’m challenging you mothers to speak well of you. To celebrate what your friends do brilliantly rather than be jealous of it. To be so excited at the end of the day at the challenges that the day held and that in walking through them imperfectly everybody grew. We’re all doing it different ways and doing the best we can. I want my daughter to love her mistakes and I want her to always know she’s a work in progress. Her mother certainly is.