When I was growing up, I had one aspiration: to be a Mom, and a great one at that!
To me, being a great mom meant that I did everything right for my child, making him exceedingly happy and that I had his constant affirmation and love.
So once I became a mom, it was only natural that I wanted to do all the things that would make me a great mom. But as I started on that journey, the line between trying so hard to do it all right and making my son happy began to fall further and further apart.
I followed the latest parenting trends, whether it be to breastfeed or bottle feed; to puree or not to puree your own food; co-sleep or bassinet; or to try the "cry it out" method. I was determined to do what it took to be the best mom.
When my son was a baby, it was easy -- as long as I kept him alive and healthy, I was pretty great at this Mom thing. Pat myself on the back? Don’t mind if I do! But then he got a mind of his own and started letting me know if he shared the same sentiment as I did about being a great mom.
Being a mom, let alone a great one, can be harder than it seems. Sure, all the dads out there simply drop the kids off at a birthday party and make dad of the year. But heaven forbid, if mom forgets to bring Valentine's Day cards to hand out to classmates (still losing sleep over that one), or sends him to school with two different shoes on, you'd think she'd been caught drinking a bottle of bourbon while pregnant!
After trying to do all the right things, I'd still find myself wondering why most of these things were not making my son happy. What was I doing wrong? Why is my son yelling at me when I try to make him a cheese omelette? Or most recently, asking myself what I'm doing wrong when he yells at me that I make rules all day and I'm not his mom anymore. My child is only three, yet this sounds reminiscent of a teenager going through puberty! So, as I reflect and ask myself if I'm an OK mom during the trying times, I've come to the realization that all those mean things he says that make me want to bar crawl at 8 p.m. on a school night are exactly why I'm a great mom.
Being a great mom doesn't mean your child won't "hate" you from time to time. It doesn't mean they don't make you want to pull your hair out when they refuse to eat the dinner you just cooked them after being at the office for 10 hours. Nor does it mean you can't count down the minutes until bedtime so you can sit on the couch, drink Pinot and watch some mind-numbing reality TV!
So, when you offer your child vegetables instead of candy for a snack, and your child screams and cries, know that you're a great mom. You tried to give your child something healthy -- whether you were successful or not is not important.
And when you tell your child that he cannot watch another hour of PJ Masks and must go to school, and he throws a temper tantrum and tells you he hates you, you're still a great mom. You are showing him that he can't get everything in life he asks for.
And don't go thinking you're anything less than a great mom when your child is kicking and screaming because you told him he cannot stay up and eat another snack, because he didn’t eat his dinner after an hour of nearly force feeding him at the table.
In my short three years of being a mom, I've learned that being a great mom isn't some label you can just slap on yourself; it's a state of being true to who you are, standing your ground and rising above rejection from those manipulative little soul-crushing humans we call children.
So while my younger self's sentiment of wanting to be the absolute best mom still remains, I've learned I can accomplish it just by being the best version of myself.