In the world of motherhood, perfectionists and sanctimommies are considered especially heinous. On the Internet the dedicated mothers who believe that okay is good enough despite what these other mothers say are members of an elite squad called the Okayest Moms. This is one of their stories.
I wasn’t always an “Okayest Mom”, you guys. Almost nine years ago, when I was 23 with my first born baby, I knew EVERYTHING. I was the PERFECT mom. Just OK? Not me, guys. I exclusively breastfed, pureed my own organic fruits and vegetables for my son’s first foods, brought Purell to every public place, properly sleep trained at an appropriate age, and had every unnecessary baby gadget known to Target.
Just writing that paragraph makes me laugh. And roll my eyes. And punch my first-time-mom self in the face. A day in the life of Perfect Mom is much different than my reality as Okayest Mom.
As I write this, my teething third born is whining to be held (because he can’t comprehend anything else in life). My middle child, a feral female toddler, is eating some kind of sugary GMO dry cereal, (because who has time to cook real breakfast?) and experimenting with I just replied to an angry email from my second-grader’s teacher because he can’t seem to remember how to show respect to friends and authority figures (I guess the organic/homemade baby food didn’t do the trick).
I’m still in pajamas. I took down my sleep-matted topknot and put it back up in a neater matted topknot. I probably won’t eat anything nutritious today and I probably won’t fight my kids on what they eat either, as long as they eat. I will live for naptime, when I only have one awake child, and treat it as my down time. Around 4pm, I will start texting my husband to see when he thinks he will be leaving work. At 4:30pm, I will confirm that he is leaving soon. At 5pm I will make sure he’s walking out the door and GPS how long it will take him to be pulling in my driveway from work, and at 5:30pm I will text him asking where he is and did he REALLY leave at 5 like he said?!
I don’t judge other mothers anymore. When I hear a mom snapping at her toddler in Target, I don’t rush to pity for the child and consider calling CPS. These days when I see another mom in the wild I am painfully aware that she probably didn’t get a lot of sleep. Her kids might be jerks that day (or everyday). She might be trying to balance being a mom of three and her own business. Maybe she’s a single working mom? Who knows. We are all just out here trying to survive and wishing on a star that our kids don’t grow up to be a serial killer.
Nine years ago, I thought the goal was perfect. I thought my way was the best way and anything less than ideal was wrong. These days, I stay in the moment. I love my kids hard and make sure they are relatively clean and adequately nourished. I don’t stress about the supplemental formula bottle that Lincoln has on occasion or the night we forgot to brush Charlie’s teeth before bed or the time Grayson cut a hole in his bedroom screen so he could “see further down the street.”
I wear my mediocre motherhood badge with pride, because letting go of perfect won’t make bad kids but it will make a crazy mom.