I wish I was one of those mamas who could see the magic in everything… delighting in the very basics of colors, shapes, music and laughter. I see my sons running and playing – I feel a deep sense of satisfaction in their obvious elation, and it moves me to tears of joy… but often, I get so caught up in the overwhelming responsibility of being a mother that I can’t help but feel fear and guilt and pressure and this omnipresent longing to do better. I scour Pinterest for creative activities that I’m too tired to actually implement. I read books which tell me that my three year old should be doing this or saying that by now, and I start to fear that I’ve wrecked him before we’ve even had a chance to build him up! I compare where Cheerio is now to where Pip was at the same age, and I find a million similarities, and a million differences, and I worry that all of it means I’m screwing up.
And then calm descends. I take a breath, and I smile, and I hold my children close to me, and I ask, “Are you happy?” and they both beam at me. Pip will always answer with a simple, “Yes,” though it sounds more like, “Yesh.” Cheerio smiles a big gap-toothed grin and shrieks at the top of his lungs, and he lunges forward to grab me in the most precious hug. Slobber runs down his chin as he plants a big open-mouthed kiss on my mouth or chin or cheek, and then he looks into my eyes and says, “I YIE YEEEW” which is baby-speak for “I love you.” And my heart really does swell and skip a beat, and I know that any child that is so capable of expressing love in this way is exactly where he needs to be.
So while I can’t stop the voices in my head from flinging insults at me (You aren’t paying them enough attention! You are a terrible mother! Your kids are going to hate you!), I remind myself that their happiness is not going to be measured by how clean my house is (it’s never clean), how many sugar free treats I bake them (if I only had the energy!), how many parks we visit (in this Florida heat??) or how many times we practice our ABC flash cards (where did I put them again?).
Their happiness is going to be measured in the hugs they received (or how often they had to say, “Come on, mom, let me GO!”), how many times I obliged when they shout “AGAIN AGAIN!” after I bounce them on my knees (it’s easier when only one of them wants a ride, but I get tired easily when they’re both hitchhiking on my legs), and all of the bath times I let them pull me in or splash until I and the entire bathroom was covered in dirty water (thank heavens for concrete floors!).
I will never be the kind of mom who plans elaborate parties or comes up with a thousand ways to make each day special or unique. I still spend too much time on my phone checking Facebook, and I still need to plan better meals rather than allowing them to have crackers or microwave quesadillas for breakfast. I don’t vacuum or sweep the floors enough, though each time I see Cheerio eating a stale cookie from under the coffee table, I resolve to do better. I don’t enforce the rule that toys need to be cleaned up after they are played with, and as a result, there are random toys in every room of our house, just waiting to be stepped on or tripped over. And I admit that I will bribe Pip to try a bite of his dinner by offering a glass of chocolate milk.
I’m not perfect.
But I am the perfect mother for my kids.
My friend Karin over at Cafe Bebe created a new initiative called Embrace Happy to help herself and others to remember to do just that. We exchange snail mail, we help to remind each other to be happy and accept happiness where we find it. If you’d like to sign up, just head over and do it!
And in the interest of embracing my own happy, I leave you with a joyous video I created after we spent our Sunday afternoon at Cocoa Beach. I hope you love it.