I can’t be that mom

I can’t be the mom whose house is always clean. We will always have crumbs on the floor and fingerprints on the door.

I can’t be the mom whose outfit is always cute. I have necklaces that never get worn, and don’t even get me started on my hair.

But I will be the mom who makes sure you have a safe home and clean(ish) clothes to wear.

I can’t be the mom who makes dinner every night. Some nights, we’re going to open the refrigerator and eat a smorgasbord of raw vegetables, fruit and deli meat.

I can’t be the mom who will pack you adorable lunches that look like smiley faces or who can make pancakes in the shape of a dinosaur.

But I will be the mom who makes you eat a carrot every day and lets you have chocolate at 9 a.m. because life is short.

I can’t be the mom who throws you extravagant birthday parties. In fact, I’ll mess up your party by accidentally telling half the guests that it starts at 11 a.m. and the other that it starts at 1 p.m.

I can’t be the mom who makes themed invites, decorations and party favors.

But I will be the mom who will spend all morning trying to make the super-specific blue dinosaur cake with orange spikes because I know that even if it looks like a disaster to an adult, you’ll totally get it and love it.

I can’t be the mom who remembers everything. I’m going to forget your lunch at least once every school year and I’ll totally space that today was our day to bring snacks for soccer.

I can’t be the mom who makes every game, every school party and every parent-teacher conference.

But I will be the mom who remembers the way your face would light up when I picked you up from day care, and I will be the mom who is there when it matters most.

I can’t be the mom who will play pretend with you. I’m sorry, my love, but I hate spending hours on the floor surrounded by plastic toys and imaginary dragons.

I can’t be the mom who gives you educational-only toys because I can’t pretend that I really care if you can read by the time you turn 3.

But I will be the mom who will take you hiking or will concoct a makeshift “Jurassic Park” scene out of plastic cups, string, straws and cardboard that looks amateur at best but provided you with hours of independent play.

I can’t be the mom who always puts you first. I can’t shuttle you around all day and tuck you into bed at night without taking some time for me.

But I will be the mom who will do whatever I can to make sure you are fed, educated, strong and independent.

I can’t be the mom who always holds it together. I’m going to cry in the bathroom with the door locked and I’m going to blurt out a curse word when I’m really frustrated.

But I will be the mom who can hold it together when it counts, like not showing you how terrified I am when you slam your head on the dresser or how sad I am that you are growing up.

There are so many things I can’t be for you, so I’m choosing instead to get better at the things I can be. I can be your mom, and I’m trying damn hard to be a good one.

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36 Comments on I can’t be that mom

  1. Amber
    October 16, 2016 at 4:12 am (3 years ago)

    Ive met my spirit animal! These are the exact same thoughts I have had in my head! I am so relieved to know I am not the only one!!! Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Catherine
    October 16, 2016 at 2:12 pm (3 years ago)

    Thank you for this! We are kindred spirits…

  3. Beckie
    October 17, 2016 at 8:37 pm (3 years ago)

    I am so with you here. And frustrated that people can’t accept it… especially those who share this life with me…

  4. Ashley
    October 18, 2016 at 4:51 pm (3 years ago)

    I love this!! These are my exact parenting thoughts! Thank you for this. Glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks this way.

  5. Lynnette Stone
    October 19, 2016 at 5:07 am (3 years ago)

    Thank you and god bless! I believe that we learn and I have much in common and I believe that we are all learning more everyday and that makes us the “mom” we are. Thanks for the beautiful script! I’m encouraged to now start writing too!

  6. Jeannee morris
    October 19, 2016 at 6:28 am (3 years ago)

    I have already raised my children to adults. They are very good adults. People that I enjoy spending time with…but I am proudest that I can see the values we taught them have been taught to their children..and now to my very first great grandchild. So many of the things that were put out there are the things I lived through. I have a couple of ideas to give you as new mothers…keep your house clean enough to be healthy but not so clean that it takes time away from your children. Be flexible..and listen to your child before you jump to action. Every day find a special time for you and your child…it can be when you tuck them in at night…ask what the worst thing that happened to them that day was and discuss it without criticizing…then ask what the best thing was and send them to sleep with favorite special songs. Sing with your little ones and keep singing when they get older…don’t sweat it if they don’t eat. Remember, there are foods you don’t like..just make sure there are healthy choices. You don’t have to play on the floor, but if you play games, don’t let them win unless they really win. Teach them to play scrabble and canasta..games that challenge them…and teach. Let them help in the kitchen…and do chores. Hugs are a way you can show affection that they understand and can return. Teach them to be kind..do unto others..and to share..teach them manners as babies. My favorite memory was that my children never had a curfew..because it made me the cool mom….I knew that they would come home because all of their friends had curfews. I made sure that their friends were welcome in our home…so they all spent a lot of time at our house. Did they eat me out of house and home??? Well there were times I thought so, but I wouldn’t trade the time we all spent together because we are still calling them ” our kids” and they are still calling us mom and dad…and they are in their forties. More than anything..speak quietly..and teach by example. I pray each of you will undertake the loving and caring for your babies as a big responsibility..and I pray that you will always remember they are not perfect..and no they are only yours for a short time so take the time to enjoy them. I wish I could physically give each of you a big hug…know that I love you for wanting to be the best other you can be.

    • kate
      October 19, 2016 at 11:08 am (3 years ago)

      What a beautiful sentiment. Thank you so much for sharing, Jeanne. I would love to share your note on my Facebook page for this blog, if I may (@My Kind of Parenting), crediting it to you, of course. Please let me know :)

    • Denice
      October 23, 2016 at 1:13 am (3 years ago)

      You were a GREAT mom.
      My advise is that mom-dom doesn’t need to be sooooo serious.
      Lighten up moms.
      Everyone have a ‘line in the sand’ but other than that, enjoy your kids!

    • Jodie Banks
      October 27, 2016 at 3:59 am (3 years ago)

      I totally agree with you! My three children are grown now and that is basically how they were raised. They are wonderful, loving, caring adults. I always say that in life there are compromises and balance in all you do. So, do what you can and don’t worry about you can’t do! The most important thing is that your children know they are loved!!

    • Jenel
      October 27, 2016 at 12:59 pm (3 years ago)

      Wow.. just wow. You are so right thank yyo for sharing

    • Old Mom
      October 27, 2016 at 9:11 pm (3 years ago)

      Mine are adults now as well, they have told me more than once that they LOVED reading at bedtime. Heck they still asked when they were preteens, it would our time, one on one. We read, talked, laughed and in general shut out the world.

      Those precious moments meant the world.

      I was also the Mom who made the themed cakes, and the parent helper and a million other things, but that, the reading, that is what they want to mirror the most when they become Dads.

    • Lisa
      October 29, 2016 at 6:04 am (3 years ago)

      You remind me of my mom…especially the lack of curfew. Lol. Only difference was that she let us stay out very late – she always picked us up…even at 3am, and she always knew where we were because I was too scared to lie to her. It wasn’t to avoid punishment; it was for fear she’d find out and be disappointed in me, and I’d upset her. That was my greatest fear growing up. She rarely yelled. I was only grounded once – it lasted a day. She knew some of my friends were less than reputable, but she trusted me. She also opened our house to all of them…they didn’t want to disappoint her either – she had nothing to worry about. She treated all my friends (and those of my two older – less troublesome – sisters, too) like they were her own. She welcomed them in when they fought with their moms (or anyone, actually), listened to them cry and gave her shoulder to all. Just like you, those still in touch still call her mom. She’s also been a preschool teacher for 31 years – former students return to her school so that the lives of their own children May also be blessed by my mother’s influence and genuine love. I couldn’t be prouder.
      I’m far from perfect, but my mom is as close to perfect as any mom – no, any person – could possibly be. I now have my own son – just 1.5 years old. We’re both blessed that she is his Grammie…she already has had such a strong impact on his life, stronger than I could have hoped. It I’m half the mom she is, I know he’ll be alright.
      With love, Lisa

    • Danielle
      November 4, 2016 at 12:24 pm (3 years ago)

      This is the truest form of parenting. Thank you for adding to and clarifying this original blog. I hope to be a mom like you!!!

    • Lisa
      November 5, 2016 at 4:12 pm (3 years ago)

      This is how we raised our boys we had an open door policy at our house and I loved it I knew where my boys were and who they were with and we have kids that still call us mom and dad we have three great boys no grandchildren yet but we get compliments on them all the time we feel that using love while disciplining will go farther then anything else

    • Kate
      November 8, 2016 at 2:56 am (3 years ago)

      Oh my goodness, Jeannie- Thank you! You’ve brought me to tears, but in a good way. <3

    • Melanie
      November 11, 2016 at 2:28 am (3 years ago)

      So many good parenting ideas. Thank you for sharing. Knowing that with your kids now in their 40’s and you see it being passed down from generation to generation, you must’ve done something right. I will try what you have shared and hope that my kids will not only appreciate what I’m giving and teaching them but take it with them into their parenting years and pass it on to their children. As parents, there is no manual, you learn as you live and we’re all just trying to be the best mothers we can be….I know I am trying and though at times I feel as if I’ve failed or I’m losing all sanity and can’t do a thing right, I really am. I wouldn’t get compliments of how well behaved, kind and loving my kids are or their father (whom I’m no longer married to) would not have told others that they love me more than anything and even him. That they adore me. Gotta admit, that made me feel like a good mom and though I may not be perfect, I’m perfect for my kids.

    • Katina King
      December 11, 2016 at 6:50 am (3 years ago)

      Best advice I have gotten since becoming a mom over 10 years ago-

  7. Kathy
    October 19, 2016 at 5:34 pm (3 years ago)

    Thank you for summarizing me in a blog post LOL. My children are all adults now, and this is how I raised them. I have one that has graduated from college and two that are in college. They are all beautiful, compassionate, hard-working and just a little bit goofy. I have always had a wonderful and supportive group of women around me. If I do nothing else with the rest of my life, I’ll know I’ve done good. Glad to know I’m not alone.

  8. Amanda
    October 19, 2016 at 7:46 pm (3 years ago)

    Thank you for writing this. I have been beating myself up lately cause I feel like there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done. I feel comforted that other mommas feel the way I do at times. My 3 girls will see a change in me soon. I need to learn how to just relax and so what if the house is buglar proof with there toys everywhere.

  9. Jessica
    October 22, 2016 at 3:48 pm (3 years ago)

    As a first time mom and now a full time student this really hit home for me. And it reminded me that not everyone is perfect. Thank you

    • Denice
      October 23, 2016 at 1:16 am (3 years ago)

      “perfect” is over rated.
      And …does not exist!!
      It’s all good

  10. Denice
    October 23, 2016 at 1:01 am (3 years ago)

    Ok Ladies.
    Here’s the deal.
    I am a mom of 3 grown children -21, 23, 25.
    The majority of my mom-time was single parenting.
    What do my children tell me?
    NOT how great their themed birthday parties were!
    NOT how nutrionally balanced their meals were!
    NOT how clean the house was!
    NOT how we made it to play group, Brownies, Cubs, Soccer, Church, Choir on time!
    They talk to me about how they remember that we laughed and read and painted and made tents with blankets and how I was always THERE (it didn’t’ feel that way).
    So, ladies, give yoursef a break, and some credit and RELAX.
    Your kids will remember everything that they needed, not what you thought they needed.
    Xo moms…you’re doing a great job. No one ever tells you that.
    And your response. to those with advice who have already raised their kids.. Thanks but , you had your chance, I am raising my child as best I see fit.

  11. Kymberlie Crawford
    October 24, 2016 at 3:52 pm (3 years ago)

    There are so many insecurities I have as a mother that were all but silenced when I read this. Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone, and that I AM a good mom

  12. Angie
    October 26, 2016 at 2:36 am (3 years ago)

    I can definitely relate to a lot, OK, MOST of this post, but not all of it. I am proud of the fact that I made it to every single class party and field trip (while always working, sometimes three jobs.) I once pawned my jewelry to pay for their Christmas back when we were young and poor (not THAT long ago. Lol). And, I’ve never missed a play or sporting event (unless the other kid was sick). I am not perfect by any means. I forget stuff a LOT these days. I’m grumpy and overwhelmed most of the time. For crying out loud, I dressed my kid in the same outfit for picture day two years in a row! I clean my house weekly, but it never LOOKS clean (especially by Wednesday or Thursday of each week). I swear too much, nag too much, work too much, and drink a little. Most importantly though, since the moment I became a mom, I have considered my boys and their needs with EVERY single decision I’ve made. My boys are my world. I hope that someday they know how much I love them and how good my intentions are.thank you for nailing this blog. I could so relate.

  13. Kim
    October 27, 2016 at 2:07 pm (3 years ago)

    I love this post!! Our family is a his and mine – 7 kids total. This is exactly how I raised my kids and they are fantastic, smart and amazing individuals. I was “the cool mom” as well, but I was also strict it came to school, chores, and working hard for what you want. So far, 5 of them have graduated from college and moved on to great jobs or are attending Graduate school; My twins are in their senior year of college and will graduate this year. I so enjoy spending time with them as adults and can’t wait to see what the future holds. Don’t take yourself so seriously moms!! It’s hard, I know, but you will make mistakes. Guess what? That isn’t what your kids remember – I promise. And if they do, you will all laugh about it. The best thing any of my kids have ever said to me is that they want to be exactly the type of mom I was – it doesn’t get much better than that!

  14. Maggie
    October 29, 2016 at 12:57 am (3 years ago)

    Thank you for removing my guilt. Thank you for speaking the words that I hide inside. Thank you for being human.

    By the way, we have a name for the smorgasbord at the fridge: Snack Dinner Night. Sometimes they even ask for it!

  15. Brandi
    October 29, 2016 at 11:28 pm (3 years ago)

    I am in love with this article!! This is me and my parenting! Thanks for putting it into words.

  16. Brandi
    November 2, 2016 at 12:22 pm (3 years ago)

    No judgement? You mean, only judgement for moms who DO throw big parties and happen to have kids that naturally read at three years old? You must mean no judgement for hot mess moms only. This is just more mom competition drivel. If you don’t throw big parties, good for you. But, people who ARE on time, throw parties and have children who are outliers are still good moms who love their children and appreciate the little things.

    • kate
      November 2, 2016 at 12:36 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi, Brandi. I’m not sure where you felt this column was judging other parents at all. This is about recognizing my many, MANY flaws and choosing to focus instead on the things that I CAN do. You better believe I wish that I could keep a clean house, be organized enough to always be on time and remember all the little things moms are supposed to remember to do! I absolutely do NOT judge any of the parents who do the things that I can’t. I’m really sorry you interpreted this column this way, because that is not its intention.

  17. Jan
    November 3, 2016 at 3:49 am (3 years ago)

    When my 4 who are now in their 40s and 50s were young, money at our house was non existent– so extras were just not there but I determined if nothing else, my children would learn to stand on their own two feet–
    To be responsible for their own actions and proud of their own accomplishments.
    They are all college graduates due to their own work. I didn’t have it to give to them and they all put themselves through school. There is no way I could be more proud of them. They are now teaching their children to be responsible for their own actions. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

  18. Kelly McElroy
    November 5, 2016 at 11:06 am (3 years ago)

    Thank you for writing something that sounds exactly like I would have written it. This was perfect!!

  19. Lourdes
    November 5, 2016 at 11:17 pm (3 years ago)

    II’ve cried so much reading this because this is exactly how I feel. Thank you

  20. AC
    November 6, 2016 at 3:36 am (3 years ago)

    I really needed this. Thank you so much. I just had my third baby and I’ve never felt so pressured to keep the house clean and enforce the rules for the older two. It’s like I’ve done a °180. Before I didn’t really care if the living room was a mess or that I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make for dinner. I knew my kids were loved, happy and healthy. I miss the days where we would lay around and watch cartoons. I need to find that part of myself again. Maybe I wouldn’t feel so stressed.

  21. Melanie Metcalf
    November 15, 2016 at 7:36 am (3 years ago)

    I just cleaned puke up for the second night in a row of course after I had made his bed with fresh washed sheets and comforter from the night before. I wanted to scream because it’s just me and no one else around to help but when I seen his face, I knew that as long as he has me him and his brother feel safe. I hate when they’re sick but I cherish the moments when all they want is you to hold and comfort them.

  22. Katina King
    December 11, 2016 at 6:54 am (3 years ago)

    I absolutely love this! People have looked at me differently because I have a different way of parenting. My kids have what they need and some things they want. But not everything they want. Because when u give them every single thing they want… It will come back and bite u in the ass.
    I am a great mom in my kids eyes and that is all that matters too me.

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