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The Perfect Mom Next Door
In the midst of all the daily challenges of motherhood, an entirely awful day can be turned around in a moment with a few words from your amazingly observant child.
"You are the best Mom in the whole world," my 8-year-old said to me one night while I was tucking her into bed. I glowed for a millisecond. She followed up that statement with "even though you're not crafty."
I smiled and thanked her. I told her that we all have different strengths, and mine happens to be, well something other than craftiness.
I knew who she was comparing me to. Yes. That other mother. A few days earlier she had said, in her sweet little way, "You are the prettiest mom I know." Pause. "Well, tied with Sabrina's mother."
It's true, Sabrina's mother is crafty, pretty and all around great. She always has a healthy snack in her pocket for a hungry child at the playground, and play-dates at her house are filled with glitter glue and fancy edge cutting scissors. And my daughter loves it.
I deserve this comparison. You see, my own mother brought this curse down on me when I was just a child, for going on about my best friend's mother. Her name was Donna and she made wonderful lunches. I loved to go to their house for lunch because it felt like a special occasion. She would even do my hair now and then. She had a box full of ribbons and I could pick my favorite color and she would give me an Alice in Wonderland look.
I often went home and told my mom about the wonders of Donna, apparently, because she still reminds me now and then. I surely never meant to make her feel inadequate. I think she just didn't appreciate the comparison. I don't appreciate it either.
Books For The Perfect Mom
Can You Be A Perfect Mom?
Who's Your Donna?
Okay. We all know we shouldn't compare ourselves to others, because it does us no good at all. I tell my daughter that all the time. Over the years I have succumbed to comparison from time to time and I bet you have too.
So, who is she? This perfect mom you see and wonder about?
Is it that socially graceful woman whose children always appear to be freshly bathed and scrubbed no matter what time day you run into them?
Is it the homeschooling mom who juggles an unfathomable load of responsibility like it was no big thing and her children that are so well behaved you stare at them with your jaw on the floor?
Is it the working mom who seems to be able to manage a high paying career and all the responsibilities of motherhood while staying in perfect shape, running the PTA, and maintaining a close personal friendship with everyone in town?
Is she the whole foods mama who tandem breastfeeds her three kids through their preschool years and still has time to make her own compost for her organic vegetable garden in the back yard? You know that her children eat an immaculate diet and their little taste buds have never come in contact with the painfully addictive flavors of an Oreo.
Then there is, of course, the mom we compare ourselves to in order to make us feel better (this is wrong too). You know her. You see her at the grocery store, looking thoroughly harassed and ten years older than she truly is. Her kids are definitely not scrubbed, they are hanging out of the shopping cart screaming and maybe they even have bed head.
I have been her, on a couple of days, and it is no picnic.
When Do We Let It Go?
My answer is now. Let it go now and never compare yourself to another woman again. My mom couldn't have been "Donna" and I'm glad she had the sense to not even try! She is so much better at being her and I love her for it.
I even tried to be a little like Donna. I got kind of bored with making every meal a grand event. And I gained weight from the whole ordeal. I do have a box of ribbons of every color in case one of my girls wants one in her hair. But they never do. I guess it was a 70's thing.
I tried for a time to be crafty, but found that I was easily frustrated by the fact that glitter glue is impossible to get off of just about anything and equally as difficult to get onto whatever you are trying to construct.
I tried hanging with the whole foods / crunchy moms and they were really cool, except when I was unsuccessful breatfeeding. Maybe if I had a note from my doctor stating that "it was not my fault and I really did try," they wouldn't have shunned me! I'm serious. I heard the whispers. I'm really not one of them, so its okay! Once, my kids actually had brownies before breakfast.
Looking at the road ahead, I have a long haul in this job as a mom. I want to enjoy it. I want to set a good example for my daughters. And the only way I can do that is to be entirely, genuinely, tied for prettiest, last in craftiness, occasionally flaky, but first in love, me.