Every morning, I bake homemade pastries and whip up fresh eggs, compliments of our backyard chickens. If I have time, which I usually do, so energized by my pre-dawn run, I’ll grind free-trade coffee and make the perfect brew for my adoring husband who nattily wears his slim fit starched shirt while he reads the Wall Street Journal.
While the kids make their flax-infused, perfectly balanced lunches, I’ll shoot off several emails to teachers with questions seeking advice on which invite-only camp my boys should attend. I text ideas to the PTA on organizing a food drive for a family fallen on hard times before we say a prayer of encouragement for one another and head our separate ways.
A typical weekday morning in our house consists of frantic, “Mom! Where’s my ….Who took my …? Mom! I need your signature on the field trip permission slip (“Forge it,” I say, exasperated, “like you did last week.”). As we race to school driving the speed limit-ish, I bark orders at the boys as they stuff their gullets with frozen waffles. The bell sounds as we screech into the parking lot. Next tardy is detention, huffy teen reminds me as he slams the car door. This scone’s for you, Carol Brady.
I’ll be honest. When I think of Mother’s Day, my first reaction is to think of everything I’m doing wrong, the ways I routinely fail my kids. I cringe and then make vague resolutions to reset the good mother button. If I can find it.
Today, as I listen to the Mother’s Day sermon on the virtues of motherhood, I’m awash with placid maternal beauties populating the pews. Ye, you nymphs who are wiser, more patient, kinder than I, who have unlimited time to do good, the ones who make casseroles from scratch. I’m an imposter, the one who mistakenly received the invitation to the land of hand-drawn frosting-scalloped cupcakes.
This unease does not come from my family. It is borne from my gnatty inner demons, propped up by a big-bosomed supporting cast of insufferable moms who incessantly broadcast their brilliant children’s awards, the honors and accolades, reminding us what a deep privilege it is to live in their household. Please stop. I don’t believe you. Everybody lies on the internet.
The media does its part by barraging us with images of a glowing Kate Middleton, gorgeous and in high heels on the steps of the hospital, hours after delivering her third child. Seriously? The first thing I did when the nurses handed me my firstborn was to throw up on the little newt. Nice to meet you, little guy. I’m your mother.
My momfails have been numerous and hard to forget. Once, on a hiking trip, I castigated my kindergartner for not trying hard enough, berating him to jump to me as I stepped back slightly out of reach, only to have him leap for my arms, miss and smash his right cheekbone into the granite boulders, leaving a still-prominent indentation in his face. There was that.
As the pastor rounds the corner toward home plate, however, I find I am renewed. I am not without fault, nor flaws but I love my children deeply. That covers a host of my failings. I’ll see through the gauzy field of women who don’t throw up on their newborns or goad their children toward permanent disfigurement.
I’ll remember the teacher whose eyes brim with tears as she related my son’s acts of kindness to his classmates. I watch my boys valiantly struggle and fight to resist temptations which daily firehose our teens. I watch my young man raise a glass to his beloved piano teacher and speak with an eloquence beyond his years of his gratitude for the lessons of leadership and hard work. Today, I’ll think, there by the grace, I might be doing something right.