I have something I need to clear my head of, so please excuse me as I use my blog as therapy, though I think that what is on my mind is something that a lot of mothers struggle with. In today’s Tuesday’s Trial I want to talk about something that haunts me – the refrain in my head of “A better mother would _____.” Fill in the blank with both the logical and absurd, because I am sure my mind has thought it.
This is a trial that I face daily. At my best, these thoughts lurk in the corners of my mind, and at my worst, they interfere completely with my abilities to objectively evaluate my capabilities.
With my husband working crazy hours right now, I find myself on the frontline of parenting many more hours than ever before. I get tired. I get impatient. The kids wear me down. “A Better Mother” has gained an intense foothold of my parenting. Her shadow looms as long as her mythological size.
Because, of course, “A Better Mother” would never get tired or impatient or get worn down. She is ever energetic, ready to play, fixing only healthy snacks. She would never resort to the television. She would always have a kind response to the never ending questions. A public tantrum would not faze her. Well, actually, “A Better Mother” would not have a child throwing a tantrum in public because she would automatically know how to respond to her child’s needs.
“A Better Mother” is perfect and clearly, I am not. My kids deserve “A Better Mother.” Adoption twists this even further for me. Our children’s birth parents, who made an amazing sacrifice, deserve for their children to be raised by “A Better Mother.”
However, what’s the legacy that “A Better Mother” would leave behind? Really, have you ever thought about it? If you were “A Better Mother”, what would your children learn? Our children would not be left to struggle. In their perfect childhoods, they would never learn how to cope with an imperfect world. “A Better Mother” would actually be a terrible mother in preparing her children to live life in the real world.
The only legacy “A Better Mother” is currently leaving behind in my life is a mother struggling to feel confident that she is competent to care for her children, a mother questioning each decision she makes, wondering how she compares to what “A Better Mother” would have done.
Is this really the legacy we want our children to live with? The legacy of insecurity that “A Better Mother” leaves behind?
We are not perfect people. The world is not a perfect place. One could argue that living out flawed lives in a flawed world is actually a perfect way to parent. It helps teach our children how to actually cope with their human limitations in a world run by fellow limited humans.
I think it is good to aspire to do better, to be better, but in order to prevent leaving our children with insecure legacies, the comparisons have to stop. What are we teaching our children by allowing them to continue? We are highlighting our inadequacy to a fault, holding up “Perfection” as the Holy Grail. At worst, our children will inversely don the insecurities on themselves comparing themselves to the equally elusive “A Better Child.”
“A Better Mother” does not actually exist. She is fictitious, born out of grouping together a series of isolated perfect parent-child interactions. Those perfect interactions are just snapshot moments, not the whole picture of the full dynamics of that particular relationship.
We need to let her go and accept our shortcomings as our humanness. That is an important lesson our children need to understand. They will not be perfect at everything. They have to learn to be okay with that. But, first we have to learn to be okay with who we are if we are ever to teach them to accept themselves.
Sorry for a post that may seem more appropriate for a personal journal instead of a public blog. However, this is something that has been eating at my mind and it’s difficult to write a genuine post when I have something else weighing on me. Hopefully, you found it helpful in some way!
Off to deal with a crying baby… Because you know that “A Better Mother” would immediately respond to her baby’s cries. Actually, “A Better Mother’s” child would never have to cry. She would anticipate the child’s needs before they ever needed to be vocalized… Yeah, I can take this to absurd levels!