Saturday, February 25, 2012

I Am the Best of Moms, I Am the Worst of Moms

Being a mom means having to make countless choices every day about what is best for your child. You have to decide whether to let him come to the store wearing blue and green plaid shorts, a red polo shirt, and mismatched grey socks, because that’s what he picked out, or force him into slightly more mainstream clothes. You have to decide whether to make him eat a banana for breakfast or stick an Eggo in the toaster. You have to decide whether to bundle him up and take him to the park or stay inside out of the rain. You have to decide whether to hold his hand on the balance beam or let him fall off and get back up again.

And after you make every single one of those decisions, you second-guess yourself. If you gave him the waffle and he’s hyper all day, you should have gone with the banana. If you take him to the store looking like his closet threw up on him and you run into the most elegant lady from church, you should have picked out his outfit yourself. If you take him to the park and he catches a cold, you should have stayed home. If he falls off the beam and gives himself a shiner, you should have held his hand. Any time something goes wrong that a different decision might possibly have avoided, you think to yourself what a horrible mom you are.

But on the flip side, when your decision makes your child happy, you know you’re a great mom. When he gives you a sticky, syrupy kiss after breakfast and says, “Thank you, Mama!”, you know that good nutrition can wait until lunch. When he grins with pride from ear to ear as he looks at himself in the mirror wearing his painfully garish outfit, you don’t care about anyone else’s opinion. When he shouts, “Look at me, Mama, look at me!” over and over from the top of the slide, you don’t care any more than he does that his nose is red with cold. When he gets back on the beam after a fall and walks the whole length by himself without hesitating, there is no question in your mind that you made the right choice to let go.

And isn’t that really how every part of parenthood goes? Every decision you make can lead to heartbreak or ecstasy. You teeter between triumph and disaster every day like a human pendulum. And if this is what it’s like now, I can only imagine how it will be magnified when my children are teenagers. Right now the worst disaster of a poor decision on my part is likely to be a black eye or a disappointed tantrum. A poor decision ten or twelve years from now could end up resulting in someone sneaking out of (or into) the house in the middle of the night, or a really bad tattoo, or worse.

It’s a good thing I’ve got a decade of practice between now and then so I can up my percentage of good decisions.

Bookmark and Share