Monday I had an interesting conversation with another mother.
Our children are in a co-op together (although our children take different classes due to age differences). It so happened that Monday was the day we had to pay.
The OM (other mother) commented that she just completely forgot it was pay day and so would have to leave to go get money, come back and pay. And asked me if I remembered it was pay day.
Well, yes, I told her, I actually had. She was amazed it seemed that I remembered. So I explained when the calendar was sent out in August I promptly went to my home calendar and put in all the dates otherwise the information would surely be lost be the end of the first month!
She thought for a moment and said that was a great idea and she just might go home and do that as well.
Then she thought again and said that she always felt like she was one of the mothers that were always behind. It seemed that so many mothers were always "one step ahead" with regards to school, extra-curriculars for thier kids, with work, with their house - that she knew this whole group of mothers that appeared so perfect and just made her feel like she had no chance to keep up with them.
I completely know exactly what she is talking about. There is a group of mothers out there that just absolutely perfect. Their children are always dressed so nicely, the diaper bag has everything you could need but it's a nice small size, they look flawless, never have to yell at their kids, have tons of grand ideas, know all the answers from how to get a child to sleep through the night to how to deal with the latest teenage crisis.
I know those mothers as well.
And I told her I knew those sorts of mothers, and for a long time, my goal in life was to be one of those mothers. And oh in public, did I appear to have it all together! I was so on-top of the game. We always looked nice, I never forgot anything. I showed up early to things and had extras of whatever it was we needed. Need a dozen cookies? Well, I showed up with 2 dozen, made from scrach with glorious decorations on them 15 minutes early with 2 girls dressed in only the best of clothes! I never complained - life was good. No, life was beyong good, it was perfect! And I had a lot of people fooled. But the most important people, I couldn't fool.
My children weren't fooled by my act - they knew that wasn't our real life. In fact they must have thought I had split personality. In public I was this perfectly put together mother. But at home, well, it was a completely different story.
I was stressed, frazzled, always running around to get the 345,937,247,234 things I had promised to do done - and not just done, but well done without any mistakes. I was short with the kids, yelling too much, and too busy trying to keep up appearances to really be there for them.
I look back and I feel badly for them. That the price of being perfect in public, was a pretty cruddy home life. They probably wished we left the house more often than we did because I was a lot more fun when we were out.
It finally dawned on my one day (okay, so it didn't just dawn on me, I had some therapy and lots of conversations to get it) that in the long run I was really short-changing my children and well, not enjoying my life either. I am not cut out to be a perfect mother. I make mistakes. My cookies aren't always perfectly round. Sometimes I even buy store bought cookies because there isn't time to bake any. I've even gotten somewhere and realized that the diaper bag is still at home. Oops.
I have come to terms with the fact that I am not perfect. That I make mistakes. That I forget things. That I am not one step ahead and some days I'm 5 steps behind. But I'm a better mom because of it, and my kids will have a better childhood because of it. So it's okay.
I'm not perfect. But I am a mom who I hope my kids can count on and can look back and have more good memories than bad ones.