I have been every mother.
I have been a single parent, who has raised their child while completing a Bachelor’s degree program. I spent many evenings soothing my child in to a peaceful slumber with the assistance of my mother, and then spending the hours that my child was sleeping over night studying for an early morning exam. I have been the mother who felt embarrassment at the thought of applying for financial assistance to be able to provide for my child. I have been the parent who did not make choices that were beneficial to my relationship with my child’s father, and for that reason, I found myself in the position of raising my son alone while we built a solid foundation upon which we would later create a marriage and a life.
I have been a stay at home mother, who found that she was searching for more within herself, questioning if the depth of her skills would remain in the home, looking for fulfillment in the workplace. I did not love my children any less, but I felt as if I were losing my identity and for that reason, I became…
The working mother.
I have been the mother who has spent hours away from her children within the confines of an office, applying herself to her work, yet distracted, analyzing all of the moments that she is missing by not being able to spend time with her children. I have missed important events in my children’s lives as the hours that were required of me demanded that I put my work first.
I have been each of these mothers, and by no means have I been a perfect parent. Parenting does not come equipped with a manual, and I am still learning the material as my children teach the course.
I was speaking today to a friend about parenting, and how my son recently told me that he hated me. This exchange was initiated when he asked for a toy that his behavior determined that in that moment he did not deserve. I explained to him calmly that we could attempt on our next outing to make better choices, and at that moment he glared at me and uttered the words that pierced my heart. I felt as if I had failed him, for my young son to regard me as an object of hatred. That evening, when we arrived home, long after the exchange had occurred, I found myself in my bathroom with a stream of tears burning my reddened cheeks, wondering where I could have been a better parent within that situation.
When she and I discussed parenting, we came to a mutual agreement, a reminder which I think should be shared with all parents, as we tend to forget when we are within the deepest trenches of parenthood this simple truth.
Whatever type of mother you have been, or currently are, you are doing your best. As you love your children, providing them with encouragement, and equipping them with the skills necessarily to become productive adults, you are the best mother for them that you can be. You don’t have to be a perfect mother.
Your children do not judge the fact that you may have forgotten to remove the crust from their sandwiches. They do not care if you are still wearing the same shirt that you wore that morning later within the evening.
Your children only know your love, and they accept you for the comfort you provide. So dear friend, I want to remind you of this. Even when you feel perfectly imperfect, you are making a difference in the lives of your children, and that’s what matters most.