It's not something I'm prone to admit out loud, but I often feel in my bones that I'm not a great mom. My kids are healthy, confident, hilarious, bright and sociable. Yet more often than not I wouldn't be surprised if I were awarded the top prize in the Worst Mom Ever category. Despite Pinterest-worthy birthday parties, ridiculously meticulous annual photo albums, thoughtful little extras in my daughters' daily lives and no shortage of affection, I'm keenly aware what I don't do for them, and with them, all the time.
It's a daily struggle to resist giving myself a parenting grade, especially because rarely is it ever a passing one. I rate how smoothly our mornings go, how cranky I am with my often-cranky kids after school, how much—or, usually, how little—patience I have for their dinnertime pickiness and before-bedtime antics, and my willingness to give in lovingly to their need for just seven more cuddles after they've already been put to bed no fewer than four times. Whether or not there are tantrums (theirs or mine), screaming and tearful resignations as they finally drift off to sleep also factor into my self-scoring system.
I admire Kate Hudson. Not for her clothing line (although that, too), her film career (and that) and her beauty (of course that), but because of her self-professed acceptance with being just an "OK mom." In the September issue of Marie Claire, she explains how she knows she's not perfect and she doesn't "try to sugarcoat things."
While I know there's always more than meets the eye, sometimes it's hard not to get suckered in by what I see all around me.
"I’ll say, ‘I’m doing the best I can.’ I like cooking, I like presenting," Hudson said. "I like it to be an experience and [my kids] help me with it, but if they want something after that, I’ll be like, ‘Look, I’m placing a meal out for you like a king. I can’t do everything. I’m going to have to be the OK mom.’”
A single mom to 5- and 12-year-old boys, Hudson expresses simply yet eloquently how I wish I could feel. Most moms—single or partnered—likely have enough aggravation in their day-to-day lives that what they don't need on top of everything else is to be so hard on themselves for not being flawless in every interaction with their kids. I wish more moms, famous and not, would come out and admit they're also way more than just the adorable photos they post on Facebook and Instagram. Because while I know there's always more than meets the eye, sometimes it's hard not to get suckered in by what I see all around me, even while knowing behind-the-scenes struggles are real for everyone.
It's a feeling from deep inside that often whispers that I could be better and do more. It's a sense that pricks like a thistle—surprisingly caustic, and while it doesn't draw blood or leave a scar, the awareness is just distinct enough to linger longer than is anywhere close to comfortable.
I'll continue working with my girls on finding way to express their own kindness and gratitude more often, and also on myself to be more forgiving and compassionate. In the meantime, though, it's good to hear another mom proclaim audibly that she, too, is not more than OK, like me. It's not that misery loves company, but the empathy is real, and it's spectacular.