My Mom didn’t have it all together when I was a kid. It sounds like a terrible thing to say, especially considering all the guilt I know she carries from that time.
While I reassure her about how lucky I am to have her as my mother, and I am lucky, those positive things aren’t what I want to remember these days while I am stuck in the trenches of my own season of motherhood.
Every day I struggle. My house is a mess. My kids know how to get on all my nerves. I am exhausted. My to-do list app sends a notification that it is too full to accomplish it all today. Tell me about it. I am cloaked in guilt and feelings of inadequacy. I am desperate to find other mamas who struggle, to remind myself that this hard is normal.
Instead, I find that we’re holed up in our houses, experiencing our shortcomings silently. We make sure our well-filtered photos blur out the messy floors in the background. We share our triumphs in 140 characters. We spend our days looking through pins to push ourselves to be better, the result of which only makes us feel worse. We have fabricated a world for ourselves where motherhood is bleached and beautiful and maybe even easy.
I can’t help feeling like I’m not measuring up.
In the past five years, my own Mom has become a Nana six times over. She is nothing short of amazing. I have seen her clean my entire house while somehow managing to get my kids to happily help. This particular babysitting stint ended with a clean house, happy kids, and dinner in the oven. She did more in a few hours than I can accomplish in a few days. To my kids, she is a wonderful Nana. To me, my Mom is magical. What she does can’t be done – at least not by me.
If I remember back through the fuzzy timeline of the past, my memories of childhood with my Mom situates us in a clean house. The beds were made and the kitchen never had a dirty dish. The floors were clean and the toys were put away. There was always a homemade meal on the table at dinnertime.
Those memories are all true, but they don’t tell the whole story. When I focus in on each element, my own Nana comes into view. We lived across the street from my grandparents, and I remember Nana coming over to the house to clean it while my Mom was at work. That homemade dinner was usually on my Nana’s dining room table. At ten-years-old, I naively thought this was a wonderful arrangement, but I’m certain it left my own mother feeling inadequate.
When I try to remember how my Mom handled motherhood then, I recall episodes of blitz cleaning to get the house ready for company. I remember how I learned to walk quietly so as to not wake her from a nap. I can still feel the mutual anger we had towards each other as I got on her last nerve and she lost her patience.
While my Mom has always been a good mother, she hasn’t always been perfect. I’m grateful for that. My memories are the only images of motherhood that can’t ever be illustrated with perfectly pinnable pictures. My mother demonstrated how hard this season of life is, and I’m glad I have those memories to not feel alone in it. In her imperfection, I find the grace to live through my own inadequacies.
I do look forward to getting those magical grandmother abilities though.