For the longest time, I believed I was at fault for the lack of perfection. I couldn’t devote the time to the kids and create perfect lunches and schedule activities because I was devoting my time to my career.
I dealt with it though, like anyone that isn’t good with dealing with things does.
I just ignored the guilt as best I could and tried to be OK with being a mediocre mom.
Then a global pandemic changed the world as we know it, and I was forced to confront what I thought I knew was the truth. While I wasn’t awful at being a mom, I wasn’t very good at it.
When the news broke that kids would be out of school for the foreseeable future, I panicked. What was I supposed to do with them all day? Then I realized that I would be at work, so my next realization was that was going to be my husband’s problem. Shortly after feeling I had escaped from becoming a home-school mom, I received the directive to work from home. I wouldn’t say I liked every minute of it.
That is when the appearance of my life, which was held together by duct tape, coffee, and will power started to fall off.
I couldn’t help with school work because I didn’t have the patience; my kids go to public school for a reason.
I couldn’t focus on work because our internet kept glitching since all my kids did all day was play videogames and watch YouTube videos on how to make slime (and then bombard me with requests to make slime as soon as I opened the bedroom door).
I felt like a failure because I didn’t cherish being home with them like some other friends did.
I felt like a failure as an employee because I couldn’t focus long enough to feel truly accomplished in anything I did.
I began to feel defeated.
“It’s OK. You’re a good mom,” my ten-year-old son said to me after he heard me talking to my husband about what a failure I am as a mom and employee. A few days later, for Mother’s Day, I was gifted a Best Mom Ever mug and told to take it to work so if I ever start to doubt that I’m a good mom, I can look at it and remember.
While all I saw was how I lacked, my kids saw how awesome it was that I was home all day, even if I had to work.
While I focused on how other moms made motherhood look so effortless, I watched as they organized playdates, created bento box lunches, and their children who happily brushed their teeth. I looked at my kids who were grateful for Fridays with pizza at school for lunch and then pizza again at home.
During the pandemic, my kids joked how teaching was not my gift, but that was OK since they didn’t need my help anyway. They understood that there were going to be times that they had to be quiet, and then there were times that they could make silly faces at me through the window. My job also understood. They knew how hard I was working and were so appreciative of all the work I was able to get done while at home.
The only person that thought I wasn’t doing a good enough job in either of those roles was me.
I never thought I’d get a life lesson as I did from a ten-year-old, let alone my own, but I did. Once I permitted myself to be OK with just trying my best at both being a mom and an employee, I became better at both. I stopped focusing on the things I couldn’t do and the things I couldn’t get done and started to focus on all that I did accomplish. With summer here, and camps and daycare still up in the air, I’ve decided to give myself a break.
If my kids spend most of the day playing video games, that’s OK.
I don’t need to plan elaborate educational adventures for them to keep them engaged. We still have family meals together, even if those meals come out of a box or through a drive-thru.
When I’m at work, it’s OK to be thinking about the kids and checking on them, and it’s OK if I don’t think of them once while my day is hectic. I know they are safe and cared for.
Being a good mom and a good employee.
Being a good mom doesn’t mean your kids have the best of everything, that meals are elaborate, and every second is filled with educational games and no screens.
Being a good employee doesn’t mean you don’t have a life outside of the job and at 5 o’clock (or whenever your workday is done), you pack up and never think about anything work-related.
Being a good mom and a good employee take the same thing that you show up and do your best.
Some days your best is nailing that presentation and landing a new client; other days, you are calling out sick for a mental health day spent making cookies with your kids while you watch reality TV.
We expect so much of ourselves. It’s time we give ourselves a break.
We are the only ones expecting the world of us (whether before COVID-crazy happened or now), it’s time we are fair to ourselves.
It’s time we give ourselves the same allowances we give others. Missing an activity your kid is in because of work doesn’t make you a bad mom, just like taking a day off to spend time doing nothing with your kids makes you a bad employee.
I know the trendy word right now is perspective, I just never thought I’d get schooled on it by a ten-year-old.