Sunday, May 14, 2017

My Mom

Quick Note: Mother's Day is a hard day for a lot of people. I've done plenty of ruminating on my own experiences with motherhood--the happy and the heartbreaking--so this post is just about my mom. Of course, Mother's Day is also hard for a lot of people who are missing their moms, so feel free to skip this post if that's you. (And also, I'm sorry. That really sucks.)

I've been trying to think about the greatest gifts my mom has given me, the traits that I share with her, the things that I hope my daughters always carry with them, too. My mom has many great qualities, but there are two things that I really hope to emulate in my own parenting:

(1) Her face lights up every time she sees me (or my kids).

I seriously cannot think of a time at any point in my life, where my mom hasn't smiled when she's seen me. That's not to say that we've never had a disagreement or whatever, but she has always made me feel seen and loved.

(2) She's never tried to be perfect.

Don't get me wrong--my mom is lovely and talented and good at lots of things. She is pretty and well put together. But she is not a perfectionist. She never worries about the house being perfectly clean or clothes being perfectly ironed. She goes to yoga twice a week and eats well because she wants to take care of her health and feel good--not because she wants to have a perfect body. She laughs about bad hair days and she shrugs off the occasional dinner disaster. She's not trying to impress anybody. She's easy going in a way that I am not, but that I try to be. She's just pretty chill and she hardly ever snaps at anyone or speaks in an unkind tone, which is certainly more than I can say for myself (Seriously, if my tone were a weapon, I would have slaughtered my husband and several students by now. This is something I'm working on.).

One of my favorite things about my mom is that she gets down on the floor to play with my kids without thinking twice about whether there is laundry to be folded or dishes to be put away. She's focused on what matters and is relaxed about the things that don't matter. She's involved in her church and her community, she's not driven by material possessions or status symbols, she's sympathetic in times of trouble and quick to laugh at funny stories or the hilarious things her granddaughters say.

My mom has shown me by example that there is no need to do it all, that picking and choosing what is important is the best way to live your life. She's gives her time to lots of charitable organizations, she's good at her job, and she spends as much time as possible with her grandkids.

It took me a long time to realize that my mom did stuff besides be my mom, but it wasn't because she wasn't doing it. It was because I was completely self-centered and perhaps a little dense, but my mom has always been involved in things or had hobbies or projects that weren't necessarily focused on us (although she did sew many of my Christmas and Easter dresses when I was little). I never felt pressured by her to be a certain way or accomplish certain things.

It's only in recent years that I've become aware of how lucky I am that I wasn't raised by a perfectionist. I didn't want to disappoint my parents, but I never thought they were expecting perfection from me. I knew that they wanted me to do my best and to be kind and to have fun, and I hope that I teach my daughters the same thing.  I don't want them to think they have to look a certain way or act a certain way or achieve a certain thing in order to make me happy.

And I feel lucky that I've learned by example that perfectionism isn't something that kids want or need from a mom. I am not the mom who has a perfect homecooked meal on the table every night. I am not the mom who has laundry put away the moment it comes out of the dryer. And honestly? I think those are great things, and they are some people's love language, but just not mine.

I will do my best, though, to make sure that my face lights up when my kids walk in the room, and that I don't stress out about the stuff that doesn't get done because we've prioritized a board game or a stack of books or playing dress up.

There will always be stuff that doesn't get done or isn't perfectly clean or put away, and it will be fine. I know because I've seen it. People come over to my mom's for dinner and she'll grumble a little because mail will be piled on the china hutch and Dad's crap will be on one side of the table, but it doesn't matter. No one cares.

Happiness doesn't come from perfection or some kind of image of perfection. Really, it just comes from hanging out with my mom, and the way she smiles when we enter the room. That is such a gift that she's given me. And I hope thirty years from now, that my kids can say the same thing.


  1. "how lucky I am that I wasn't raised by a perfectionist. "

    Funny, I was thinking EXACTLY THIS earlier today.

  2. Oh your mom seems like just a lovely, lovely person.

    What a sweet post.

  3. Preach. So thankful for a mom who loves more than she expects.

  4. I'm glad you get to spend lots of time with your wonderful mom!