This parody of Taylor Swift's "Shake it off" song came across my Facebook the other day and I was so excited I think I teared up and started dancing. I've been thinking these things for three weeks, trying to figure out how to put them to words in a blog post to share with you all. You HAVE to watch this "Cool Mom" video.
I posted earlier this week about how hard it's been for me returning to work after the summer off, doing two kid drop offs, etc. I'm exhausted, losing patience, and struggling to figure out what works with getting us out the door.
But I started feeling like you know what? I'm not all that bad at this mom thing. Yes, it's a rough patch right now, we all go through those phases where we feel like we can't get it right. But overall, I'm not too shabby around here. I'm failing at a few things, succeeding at some others.
I know moms everywhere will understand this, so I share with you my recent mishaps and the silver linings I learned from them.
MISHAP: I knew it was my father-in-law's birthday the morning that it was. I reminded myself that we needed to call him. I thought about it after work when I was headed to pick up the kids. I then got busy with dinner, bath, kids fighting, cleaning the house, etc. that we didn't call.
SILVER LINING: We called the next afternoon when I picked the kids up, a day late. My father-in-law was SO pleased to hear his grandson singing happy birthday to him, he didn't care that we didn't make it the day before. He thanked us 5 times. Score!
MISHAP: Got a birthday invitation 9 days before the party. Checked calendar, waited a few days to ask husband if he was able to go or if he was working, wrote it on the calendar, bought a birthday gift. Didn't RSVP until two days before, big NO NO in the partying world.
SILVER LINING: The mom was so happy we could just attend since a few friends couldn't go, she didn't care it was two days in advance. We got sent home with extra goodie bags at the party! Yes!
MISHAP: Babysitter was having a rough time. I wanted to make her a meal like she's done for me a zillion times before, but we didn't have extra money or time to do it on the day that it mattered. I felt like a loser, wanting to help but not able to.
SILVER LINING: I called on the tough day to say we had been thinking of her, asking if she needed anything, etc. She was so grateful with the thoughtfulness. Sometimes it's the little things that mean more than the tangible things.
MISHAP: I was snippy and overtired, woke way too early one morning to whining kids. I rushed us, we all were fussy and annoyed with one another. Not a great way to start a morning.
SILVER LINING: I took my son to the playground in the morning before school for 8 minutes. Freezing cold. But we LAUGHED and laughed and it made the snippy parts of the morning go away. I wasn't perfect, but I turned it around.
MISHAP: I arrived 27 minutes late to the library event. We were so excited to go to this super hero craft, story, snack time. But something at work made me leave 10 minutes later than planned, then the babysitter had to tell me something so that took a few minutes, so we were late.
SILVER LINING: I remember the superhero capes, had them in the car already so we didn't have to stop at home. We arrived anyway, I thought, well if the event is over by the time we get there, we'll just read stories. We got there in time for 2 stories, craft and snack! They only missed 2 other stories. Big deal that we were late. I was so proud of myself not canceling altogether because the kids had a blast.
MISHAP: Some friends asked us to be the guardians of their children if anything ever happens to them. This was in July. I've still not written the long letter of intentions and gratitude my husband and I want to write to them, because there was never that much time to sit and focus, together, and really be thoughtful about it. I feel guilty and terrible.
SILVER LINING: Two months later, I'm sending that letter today. I'm making sure it happens, and honestly when they read it I imagine they'll be grateful and thinking, "how sweet" instead of "geesh, two months late, eh?!" I'm accepting that I was late and that it's all good. It's the thought in the end that counts.
MISHAP: My good friend called me like 7 times in a few days. Every time he called I had no time to talk - kids screaming, in the middle of bath time, cooking dinner that was almost ready, etc. or I just missed the call because of working or laundry or something. When I called him back a few days later, he asked if I'd be his son's Godmother. I burst into tears, kinda because I felt terrible not getting back to his phone calls.
SILVER LINING: Someone wants me to be their child's Godmother. Clearly I'm doing a zillion things right, way more than the things I'm doing "wrong." And I apologized, told the truth, "I'm so sorry I was busy being mom, I couldn't call you back. Forgive me. I'll be a fantastic Godmother and I'm so honored." It's OK to have these moments. It's not worth having guilt over your reality getting in the way.
I have about a hundred examples like this from the last few weeks, where I didn't get things done the way they "should" have been done.
Times when I wished I'd cleaned things, remembered things, acknowledged things, sent a card on time, arrived sooner than we did, responded to a text message or email earlier than a week or two late, RSVPd sooner, etc.
Sometimes we're busy, other times we have Mom Brain and just plain forget. Sometimes we have to choose, prioritize, do something over another thing. Sometimes we are exhausted so not thinking straight. Sometimes we have to just put ourselves and our kids first. Sometimes we don't even remember, genuinely just don't recall what we were supposed to do.
I say all of that is normal and OK.
I say we need to be forgiving as mothers - forgiving of others who make some mishaps or come in a day late and dollar short, as well as forgive ourselves, not be so hard on ourselves to make it perfect every time.
Sometimes it's taking baby steps to get to where you need or want to be. That's OK to take it slow. Have patience with yourself.
I could have given up on all of the above. I could have turned around, ignored, felt defeated, said "nope, not doing it." Instead, I just did it later than I planned. This part is HARD for me. I'm type-A, organized all the time or at least try to be, get frustrated when things are not in order. I'm not a clean freak, my house is not super clean, I'm not perfectionist, I am all about being real. But I like things working, and I have huge ideas on how to help others and give of myself all the time... when I can't do those things I get disappointed.
I was able to manage that way of being with my first child for the most part, but then two kids came along and ever since I'm not able to do things as quick or as often as I used to do. I'm behind the mark sometimes. That's hard for me to accept sometimes, but it is what it is. There's no controlling it. What helps me is writing things down, I have a big white board calendar in the kitchen that I write a zillion things on. I keep post-its and keep a calendar with me at all times. I put notes in my phone. My husband puts reminders in his to remind both of us. I prepare ahead of time as much as I can.
We do the best we can. We make our kids happy, each other happy, and ourselves. Then we do our very best to give back and help others and acknowledge the great in the world. Sometimes we're better at this than others.
I live by the philosophy "treat others how you want to be treated," I learned this growing up and try to live this way. So, while I'm still working through my own disappointments about not being able to be as quick or reply as often or have as much money to do the things I think up doing for friends, I'm realizing that it's all OK, as long as the thought is there, as long as I'm continually trying to get better and to do what's right, it's all good.
I know most in the world understand what it's like being a mom. They get how busy it is, how scattered life can be, how you're going here and there and all over the place. I think most of the world understands, so I have to be understanding within myself, too.
Give yourself a break, moms. And realize that if you can't do it just the way you wanted to do it originally, you still CAN do it. It's the thought and gestures that count, even if a little later than your Mom Brain planned.
Remind yourself that even though some days you don't shower and you use baby talk more than you wish you did, or if your hair hasn't been cut in way too long or you're just not doing xyz.... remind yourself, you're still mostly a COOL mom. You got this thing. Keep on rockin' on... even if you're a little late sometimes.