You’re a Good Mama


Have I mentioned I love my kids?  Love ‘em. More than my next breath.  But I hate grocery shopping with them. Bless their little hearts, I hate it.  In the summer when they are all home, I’d rather go at 9 p.m. than take all three.  No matter how I prep them and myself, create elaborate “help mommy” games and put my creative parenting hat on, 99% of the time it ends in tears and whining.  And that’s just from me.

My youngest, especially, is notoriously NOT good at sitting still for longer than 30 seconds, and taking him shopping is almost as frustrating as all three. But one Monday morning after a particularly taxing and busy weekend, I forgot that preschool was CANCELLED until about 10 minutes before I was about to drop him off and reach my precious 90 minutes of child-free bliss.  I didn’t like it, but I knew what I had to do.  I put on my big girl panties and dragged my little man to the grocery store.  I tried to be positive, but it was an exhausting 50 minutes, with him whining and yelling and grabbing things off the shelves and him deciding he wants to sit in the cart, then changing his mind, then wanting to get back in, even though he is way too big for the little seat. I would buckle him in and he would immediately unbuckle and try to squirm out. (Locks and buckles are a joke to this child.)  In his defense, he is an energizer bunny and it’s got to be boring as hell for his active body to walk the aisles quietly and not get to swim in the lobster tank or sift through the bulk food candy like he wants.

By the time we were checking out, I was doing my usual juggling act of bagging my groceries, calling out instructions to Asher, “Sit down please.  Hands in.  Please sit down.  Put the bread back.  Put the bread back in the cart.  PUT THE BREAD BACK IN THE CART.  We don’t throw.  No throwing.  Play with your toy! You have a fun toy!  Don’t throw the toy.  I have to take the toy now…” and walking back and forth between him and the food.

Then he tried to stand up in the cart again, but he got stuck and started to scream and cry in pain.  I dropped my food and ran over, trying to figure out where he was wedged between hip/knee/ankle/toe and attempting to calm him down.  It took about ten seconds, which felt like an eternity.  He was crying sad tears, and so I cupped his face and quietly told him I didn’t want him to get hurt and he needs to SIT DOWN IN HIS SEAT.  Life with this kid is a loud whirlwind, so it honestly wasn’t anything extra crazy or stressful, just normal crazy and stressful.  I was irritated, but didn’t lose my crap.  Yeah, me!

But I don’t think I realized how high-strung I was until the older woman on the other side of the bagging lane just picked up her groceries and smiled at me, looked straight in my eyes and said “You’re a good mama.”  And she left.

And hot tears started streaming down my face.

It’s not that no one has ever told me that.  Dear people in my life have encouraged me.  But it’s just in the bone-weary, day-to-day work of pouring into these little guys that sometimes it feels a little bit like a losing battle.  It’s so much easier to notice how I’m failing to live up to the mom I want to be than it is to notice the times when I actually AM the mom I want to be.  Maybe it’s also that my measure of success is pretty skewed.  If my children’s behavior and my level of inner peace and calm is the barometer for “good mom” then it is quite rare for me to achieve that coveted label.

And I know I’m not alone!  Fortunately I am surrounded by honest moms who express many of the similar struggles to live up to our own ridiculous standards.  Most of us admit that at least one or more of our kids are in really challenging, exhausting seasons.  Over coffee and muffins and park benches and juice boxes we talk about how crazy we are about our kids and what awesome little humans they are.  But we also admit it’s harder than we thought.  We don’t want to mess up these precious lives.

So when that lady in Winco rocked my world with those four little words, I thought: It’s so simple. We need to be told we are doing well.  We need to tell each OTHER that we are doing well.  I want to notice small ways that the mamas in my life are pressing in to their children, doing hard work when easier is an option, and continually striving to be molded and crafted into the mom our children need us to be.  The other moms in my life do things differently than I do–we make different parenting choices.  Sometimes REALLY different parenting choices.  But we are ALL doing the best we can to love and guide our kids into healthy, well-adjusted, kind people.  And we need all the encouragement we can get.  So today I hope you will join me in making a promise to tell the mothers in my life:

You’re a good mama.good mama 2 (1)


{Feature image credit: Flickr}