I have a perfect mom who lives inside my head. Her name is Elisabeth, which is what my name totally would be, had I been born perfect. She looks a bit like me, but she doesn’t have a gap between her two front teeth, her pre-baby clothes fit flawlessly, her children have never tasted sugar and wouldn’t know a dessert if it walked up and introduced itself, and her van never has goldfish cracker crumbs ground into the upholstery. Trust me, Elisabeth is serious about that goldfish crumb rule.
She messes me up because I want to be her when I grow up, but at the sage age of 33, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve gotten something wrong somewhere along the line. Did I miss the turn-off to Elisabeth Land?
I’m setting my sights lower than World’s Greatest Mom these days. I’m going for the World’s Okayest Mom. And, as I’ve talked to a number of friends who have recently been feeling the mama-doldrums as well, I’m not alone in my climb to the top of the podium. There’s room to spare up there. Want to join me?
So this one’s to you, Okayest Moms!
To the mom who wipes her baby’s runny nose with the spoon and shovels it all back in with some fresh yogurt–I salute you.
To the mom whose child writes on walls (and sheets and curtains and windows) with markers during quiet time–I salute you.
To the mom who watches brain rot TV shows at 9 pm rather than pick up the house–I salute you.
To the mom who finds a layer of dust on her window sills…and leaves it there–I salute you.
To the mom with a wobbly-legged, scratched-surface, laughter-surrounded dining room table–I salute you.
To the mom who drags herself out of bed with crust-sealed, exhausted eyes because that baby needs her arms one more time–I salute you.
To the mom who throws on a baseball cap to hide the unshowered rat’s nest–I salute you.
To the mom who thought about working out yesterday, and left it at that–I salute you.
To the mom whose heart aches so much with loving that she thirsts for the mirage of a day off of mothering–I salute you.
To the mom who never has enough arms-breadth, lap-width, or eye-contact to give all her children the attention they need–I salute you.
To the mom who worries she’s done nothing original with her life and yet, unbeknownst to her, is a model for others–I salute you.
To the mom whose knees ache from bending and loving and protecting and praying for her children–I salute you.
To the mom whose children ratchet up their most obnoxious behavior the moment she answers the phone–I salute you.
To the mom who singlehandedly answers five nighttime calls from three different children–I salute you.
To the mom who worries she can never be enough, do enough, say enough, live enough–I salute you.
To the mom whose kid makes this face when eating her lovingly prepared food–I salute you.
To the mom who worries that the last time she snapped at her child will be the first thing he remembers–I salute you.
To the mom who cries over sappy commercials–I salute you.
To the mom who endures 22 hours of labor and finds she can love more after the ordeal than she could before–I salute you.
To the mom who feels like she didn’t clean enough kitchen counters AND didn’t play enough with the kids to make the day count–I salute you.
To the mom who spends an extra five minutes in the bathroom while the kiddos beat on the door–I salute you.
To the mom who feels like there aren’t enough hours in a day to be who everyone needs her to be–I salute you.
To the mom who feels guilty about doing something for herself–I salute you.
To the mom who didn’t make baby food from scratch–I salute you.
To the mom who hired the TV as a babysitter today–I salute you.
To the mom who forgot to reload the wipes in the diaper bag and used her own scarf in a pinch–I salute you.
To the mom who thinks the laundry pile might be harboring a personal vendetta against her–I salute you.
To the mom who gave up and ordered pizza–I salute you.
To the mom who failed today and will still get up again and try tomorrow to be an Elisabeth–I salute you.
I salute you, moms. You’re all okay. And we’re going to give ourselves the grace to just leave it at that. A deep breath. A surrender. An acceptance. A hug for a fellow mom in the thick of it. Can we do something? Let’s stand at the top of our Okayest Mom podium, link arms, and declare the World’s Greatest Mom a figment of imagination. Let’s depose all those Elisabeths in our heads to the land of leprechauns, unicorns, fairies, and fat-free desserts.
Let’s just be ourselves and give our kids all the wonky, broken, almost-perfect fragments of ourselves that we can. And if we worry it’s not enough at the end of the day? Well, I salute you. You’re Okay.