Monday, June 18, 2007

Trenches / Chapter 1 / Perfect Mom, My Foot!

For many moms, Mother's Day means facing the love/hate relationship they have with the holiday. They love the extra help they get around the house and the cute kid-made cards, but they hate the guilt trip – feeling like they’re anything but the perfect mom.

Who is this perfect mom everyone seems to venerate on Mothers’ Day? Does she exist? Is she the woman who keeps her cool while reprimanding her kids for leaving a path of destruction in the grocery store? Could she be your child’s friend’s mother – the one he keeps referencing every time he doesn’t agree with how you handle things? Perhaps it’s your neighbor. She is a devoted wife and mother to six children, maintains a spotless house and cooks a homemade meal every night.

Sorry to say, but none of these ladies qualify as the perfect mom. In fact, she’s a myth. She doesn’t exist. Repeat after me, "There is no such thing as a perfect mom."

Part of the reason we cling to the belief that there is a perfect mom out there is because we’re not privy to insider information. In other words, we get only a limited look into other moms’ behavior.

I’ll use my own mother as an example (sorry, Mom). My mom teaches school and gives motivational talks in our community. She’s a dynamic and enthusiastic woman. Growing up friends would say to me, "You’re lucky. It must be fun having her for a mom." Having only limited experience with my mom, they saw only one side of the story.

I, on the other hand, lived day in and day out with the real Mrs. Austin. And she did all the things that regular mothers do. She nagged, told me to do things I didn’t want to do, nagged some more, didn’t always see things like I saw them, and when provoked, lost her cool.

Another reason we feel guilty on Mothers’ Day and believe someone else must be doing things better is because we have a selective memory. When our kids give us cute little cards telling us we’re loving, kind and good – the best mom in the world -- we remember our outburst over yesterday’s muddy trail through the house. And we don’t quite feel worthy of the generous praise and adoration.
Unlike Moms, kids tend to focus on fun. If asked, they might recall the episode of the muddy shoes, but they’ve likely moved on.

For children, Mothers’ Day means thinking about all the good things Mom does for them. Whether it’s reading them a bedtime story, letting them eat ice cream before dinner, or giving them an under-dog on the swings at the park, kids know moms are fun.

On Mothers’ Day, cut yourself some slack. Remind yourself that no one is perfect, that every mom has her bad days. Instead of dwelling on your short-comings and weaknesses, focus on your strengths.

Listen when your kids say, "You’re the best!" They believe it, and you should too!

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