Welcome, Mamma Crew, to another chaotic, exciting, but always beautiful day of an older mom like you!
One of the things that I keep seeing and I keep hearing from some older moms is that they want to get everything perfect—the perfect pictures. They want to feed their kids all organic, all home-cooked meals. Get the perfect Christmas gifts. Create the perfect Thanksgiving. Perfect, perfect, perfect. I think perfect should be a four-letter word that we never use when you’re in company and that we shouldn’t use when we’re alone.
It takes too much effort to be perfect. I’m sorry, it just does. And not only does it take too much effort but is so crushing. Because the reality is that as human beings, we cannot be perfect, and as moms, we cannot be perfect, okay? We can’t. Let’s give up that ghost. Just let it go. Let’s try instead to be great moms.
So, exactly what’s the difference, you wonder? “What the hell is she talking about? It doesn’t make any sense.” Yes, it does! Okay, let me explain to you what I’m saying. So, you want your kids to eat healthily, and you do the best you can, and you try to cook healthy meals. I cheat. I’m just going to be honest out there, and I’m going to give some HelloFresh free advertisement here. I love HelloFresh. I sucked with coming up with recipes, and my kids have so many gastrointestinal problems (at least the twins do) that it’s a downer! I don’t always know what to cook, and I get into ruts.
And so, HelloFresh came to my rescue because it comes with these cool recipes, and it comes with these little bags. (I’m going to have to get one of these little bags to show to you. Hold on.) Okay, so it comes with the recipe. Easy steps and I always choose recipes that take about thirty minutes to cook, okay? And here’s the bag! And everything comes in the bag, everything that you need to cook your recipe.
Now, I cheat because yes, HelloFresh is a little bit on the expensive side. I cheat, so I get it for two people, and then I just add more protein. Okay, so if I’m making chicken, I already have chicken. I just add more. And I always get some fruits and vegetables just to make sure that I have a little extra. And it works out great! It gives me new recipes, something innovative for the kids to try, and the family is happy. If we like the recipe (like we like this one), it goes into my recipe book. We don’t like it; it goes into the trash. Easy breezy.
And of course, there’s some stuff that I modify. They have some great spices for Mexican food, but it’s a little too hot for some of my kids, so I tone it down. I don’t put a lot. So that’s how I make sure that I’m cooking some good healthy meals. But I also don’t feel guilty. I just don’t. When in the middle of the week if I had a lot to do, I’m tired, I don’t feel like cooking, and I turn around, and I say to my husband, “It’s a Chick-fil-A night.”
I love Chick-fil-A, especially their lemonade. And their cow, I love their cow! When the girls were little, we used to take them on cow day to dress up like little cows and get their free, whatever free thing they got. It wasn’t just about the free stuff; it was just being the cow. The girls love that. I’m excited to inform you that the cow sent me a gift of a kiss just last week. I got it. Love the cow!
So, not as often, I send my husband for pizza. Not as often, Taco Bell. (Chic-fil-A’s my choice), and Panda Express has become very popular in our family. So, let me say at least once a week I send them out for take-out because I’m tired. And you know what? I don’t feel guilty about it. I don’t. I’m still a great mom. I still try to feed my kids healthy food most of the time. I just can’t do it all the time. I have to give myself a break.
Here’s the other one. I would love to tell you that I always have the right answer for my kids. But there are days when I am just shocked by how fast society is moving and how far behind I am. The kids were talking about new additions to the rainbow, and I was like, “What?” They’re like, “New colors. The rainbow’s changing mom.” I’m like, “The rainbow’s changing? The rainbow hasn’t added any new colors.” Then they started talking about cis women, gender fluidity, and no longer accepting binary gender assignments.
Okay, my bachelor’s is in sociology, my masters’ is in sociology; I used to teach a class on sex and gender, but I hate to admit it, back then, the rainbow was kind of limited compared to today. I have never even heard of the word cis women or cis men or cisgender. I had no idea what the hell they were talking about, nor how I felt about it, nor I thought about it, or how to respond to it, or how do I answer their question. Oh, my God!
So of course, I have to take out; at least it’s easy now, I can Google it. Here it is, okay? Oh, alright. Oh yeah, there’s a lot more colors to this rainbow. You don’t always have to have the answers. You just have to be open to looking for them and open to learning from your children — society changes. We have to change with it even if we’re old. So, am I still a great mom? Yup, I am! And I don’t have to like everything they like. And I don’t have to agree with them all the time.
TikTok! Oh boy, let me tell you that’s a big debate in our family. Both Dora and Andy are big TikTok posters, okay? They are sooo into TikTok! Andy said she wishes she had more followers. So I make the mistake of sharing one of her videos that I thought was just adorable, and I get reprimanded. I get a thirty-minute lecture on why she doesn’t want those people following her. She wants young people to follow her. She wants the searches to be organic. So, “Mom, please stay out of it.” Heartbroken… No, not really. I was like, okay, I’m in trouble. “Back-off, mom. Crossed the boundary. Crossed the boundary!” You know what? She’ll live. I didn’t do it on purpose. I didn’t do it to hurt her. She’s not scarred for life. She’ll be fine.
So really, what makes a great mom great? Well, for starters, we don’t try to be perfect. It is just too exhausting. I’m sorry. I wish, in fact, I bought those crafty books where you’re supposed to put every year what the kids did with all these wonderful pictures. I’ve seen women that can do that; I can’t. And I’ve tried to have the perfect birthday parties. I gave up. My daughters do a better job of organizing their own birthday parties. You know, like jumping in the pool with your clothes on, rainbows, unicorns birthday party extravaganza. Hey, by the time I found out about it, they had invited the whole preschool. I just had to get the food and do the setup.
So, we gave up on perfection. Instead, we tried to listen to our children. We tried to take good care of their health. We love them even when they drive us crazy, and they make mistakes. We apologize when we make mistakes so that they learn from us that no one’s perfect. They learn from us that everybody should apologize when they make mistakes: even their parents, even their teachers, even people who are supposed to have authority. We all make mistakes, and we all need to accept that.
We’re willing to learn from them about all these new gender things. And when one of them asks to no longer be addressed by “he” or “she,” but by “they,” you don’t roll your eyes. You don’t make fun of them. You respect their request. Even though you may not understand it because you’re a different generation, you may disagree with it because… I don’t know why. I’m sure there’s someone who has reason out there. But you respect their request.
You try to remember to knock on their door even though you’ve never knocked on their door, but they’re teenagers now, and they want that privacy, so you try to give it to them. And you remember that it’s your job always to be their mother, not their friend. I know that that can really be hard for some people. They want so badly to be friends with their children. But we’re parents, and it’s our job to ground them when they didn’t do their homework; when they got caught in a lie; when they had a bad attitude; when they were unkind. It’s our job to take away their internet (that’s a touchy one in my house) or their electronics when they haven’t met their responsibilities; when they’ve made poor choices. It is our job as great mothers to not always be light. To know that it is okay that our children don’t like us sometimes. To know that they’re going to survive. We survived our mothers.
I mean, there were days when my mother and I, ugh, she was not my favorite person during my teen years. I mean, I broke up with one boyfriend and started dating another boyfriend, and she liked the first one, and she was upset. We got into this huge argument over who I was dating at fifteen like I would marry this guy and be with him forever. By the way, I don’t even know where he is nowadays. I don’t even know what happened to him. I really don’t. (If you’re listening, Chris, hello!)
So, it is okay. It is okay for our kids not to like us because it’s our job to be moms, not to be their friends. I’ve actually debated when it would be a good time to be my child’s friend. But I realized I don’t really need to think about it right now because you know what, they’re only thirteen. They’re going to need me to be a mom for a long time yet, and frankly, I’m not sure if that’s the position I ever want to give up. I kinda like it. It’s a privilege.
It’s okay, we’re great moms when we send them back inside when they’re wearing something inappropriate, and they want to argue with us that the shorty short is not too short. That theater class said it was okay for them to wear shorts (even though mom said it was not okay). We’re great moms when we stick to our family beliefs and rules, even though the rest of the world may not agree with us.
We have a family culture, and in that family culture, some things are acceptable, some things are expected, and some things are never going to be acceptable. I’m sorry, but in my household, it is not acceptable to wear shorty shorts where I can see the edge of your butt; your behind. It’s not! So, shorts disappear. And my daughters will come up and say, “Oh, my favorite short is gone.” Yeah, they are. They were donated. “Oh, mom!” And I survived intact, happy, knowing that people are not seeing my little girl’s butts. Sorry! That makes me a great mom. I set the rules, I stick to them even if they don’t like it.
I’m a great mom because I expect them to be the best that they can be. No, I don’t expect them to be perfect. In fact, I gave them the gift of imperfection. But that’s another show. I gave them the gift of imperfection, but I still expect them to be the best they can be. There’s a big difference between I forgot to do my schoolwork, and you gave me a zero, and I honestly tried my best, and I couldn’t understand this concept. And even then, sometimes I’ve had a hard time because if you didn’t understand, you should have come and talked to me and made sure that I explained to you in a way that you could comprehend.
Let me tell you, my Andy, when it comes to math, she’s a great mathematician. But some days, I have to explain to her five different ways how to do a problem. Once she gets it, she’ll run with it, and she can extrapolate from it. But just getting to that point can be difficult. And I’m still a great mom when, after the fifth time I’ve explained how to do the problem, I’m internally rolling my eyes and keeping myself from sighing.
Be a great mom. Be present. Be active. Be honest. Be imperfect. Don’t drive yourself crazy, trying to be something that you’re never going to be, which is perfect. And worst of all, don’t try to be someone else’s definition of perfection. Be it Hallmarks, the news, the media, Facebook (oh, my God! Everybody’s a perfect mom on Facebook except those of us who are not). Remember that social media only shows you one glimpse into someone’s life. Not their life, not their real life. It’s just a glimpse. And it’s usually the best part of ourselves. Not the parts where we’re fumbling around and don’t know what to do and are frustrated, angry, or scared.
Never compare yourself to somebody else’s Facebook profile. Worst of all, their Mom Facebook profile, okay? Don’t do that to yourself. Be you. Be the best you can be, and that is always what makes you a great mother. When you’re honest with yourself, when you’re honest with your family and enjoy the wonderful moments we have.
Because let me tell you before you know it, they’re no longer babies, and they’re no longer toddlers. The next thing you know, you’re sending them off to school or homeschooling them (or both, like in our case. We’ve done both). And right now, I think, oh my goodness, they’re thirteen! Next year they’ll be fourteen, and before I know it, they’re going to be off to college! They won’t be home anymore and will no longer have to worry about being a great mom.
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