When I became a mom, I was envious of all the other moms out there. They always made being moms seem so easy! My mom friends wouldn't even blink as they wiped noses or opened a container of cheerios, while asking me about my childless adventures. All those moms made everything look easy. Even my memories of my own mother were full of her calm demeanor as she cleaned up my brother's vomit.
This was clearly false advertising.
When Zane came along, I expected my Perfect Mom skills to awaken. My boy was a preemie, but I was sure that I could step up to the plate and knock this motherhood thing out of the park. I quickly learned, however, that being a mom is not as easy as it looks. I was in way over my head and sinking fast, because children don't slow down and wait for their moms to catch up. No, they just keep growing, and behaving like kids, and if a parent isn't ready for that, too darn bad. I aspired to be a Perfect Mom, I really did. I've committed a number of parenting sins along the way, however, that have earned me a "Bad Mama" reputation. I get looks from other moms, and I'm sure that some of them talk about me in hushed tones as a cautionary tale. My sins?
My son sometimes sleeps in our bed. Yes, he's eight. Yes, he has his own bed. He has nightmares, or gets scared, and comes running. He does not like to be alone in the dark. I can remember being terrified as a kid, all alone in my room in the darkness; I completely empathize. Incentives don't work; Zane isn't awake when he climbs into our bed. We have tried putting him back in his own bed, but let's get real, most of the time we don't even wake up when he climbs in bed. And he's too heavy for me to pick up and carry right now, anyway. My husband and I have never made a big deal out of the situation.
My son does not take a bath every single day. All the good moms give their kids baths every day, I'd heard. There's entire rows of toys, soaps you can color the tile with, and other fun items to make bath time fun for the kids, since they're supposed to spend so much time in there. However, I work 40-50 hours a week, and his father works about the same, and sometimes we are just too darn tired to do much beyond put some pajamas on the boy. He gets a bath three times a week, and that is plenty for now. Also, who wants to clean all that special coloring soap off the tile when bath time is over?
My kid does his own homework. Zane has very messy handwriting when he rushes through his work. And he rushes through his work all the time. I could write everything out for him, but then I'm doing the work for him. I may sit next to my son, and redirect him every thirty seconds when he sees a bird fly by the window, but I do not complete his work for him. If he asks me for the answer? "I don't know", is my response. He may get the answer wrong, but it is HIS work. He earns the grades he gets, and he understands that. It may take him a little longer to acquire a concept or two, but we celebrate his little milestones.
I yell sometimes. I never start off yelling unless it is distance appropriate. I always start off asking nicely. I've read all the research studies on compliance over the years, and I try to follow them. All the research studies on the planet, however, can't compete with a child who does not want to stop what he is doing. My son gets so hyperfocused that the building could fall down around him and he would not notice. Or he thinks that if he ignores me that I will go away. Or he just doesn't wanna. The boy does not like to hear me yell, and he will immediately jump up and do as asked if I yell. It's his Kryptonite, and I use it sparingly, so he knows that I mean business. If I yell AND use his full name? He just goes straight up to his room.
I don't make excuses for my child. I have no illusions that my child is perfection incarnate. If Zane comes home with a bad behavior note, we discuss it, and there are consequences. Occasionally he tries to blame things on other kids or "the teacher made a mistake"--he is a kid. If they can get away with that, then that's what they'll do. I know my kid, however. I know that he likes to take shortcuts. I know that he doesn't always pay attention if there's something shiny on the other side of the room. If he is playing around in church, I call him on it. If he's on the soccer field and playing around, I call him on it. I don't blame the coach, or the teacher, or anyone else. I hold my child accountable for his actions.
So I'm not a Perfect Mom. Parenting is definitely a "learn as you go" adventure, and what works for one mom doesn't always fly with another. My version of motherhood is definitely not perfect, but my son appears to be thriving, happy, and healthy. He'll be a surly teenager before I know it. And I'm okay with not being in the Perfect Mom Club. I was never perfect to begin with, anyway. I love being a mom, and I love my child, and I think as long as those things are true, every mom is perfect.