I'm a really good mom, but I'm far from perfect.
I've been known to buy myself twenty minutes of peace with a cheap Disney princess toy from Target. Both of my girls can readily identify the theme music from at least a half dozen cartoons and even the two-year-old knows how to enter my password to unlock the iPad. Sometimes, when a day has been particularly challenging, I may even bribe them to stop whining with extra Sprout programming.
I can also be inconsistent with discipline. While I try be unwavering in my rules, I would be lying if I didn't admit to occasionally surrendering to my toddler's tantrums. What's worse is that I sometimes lose my patience and yell "Stop It!" I've locked myself in my bedroom with both girls wailing on the other side of the door while I had my own mini-mommy meltdown.
In addition, I've never lead-tested their toys, and am only moderately vigilant about BPA. I cater to their picky palettes by feeding them toddler-approved meals while seated at the kiddie table. And, my biggest mothering offense is that I was only able to breastfeed my second for the first three months, and quickly gave up the idea of pumping for each bottle.
But, all of that doesn't really matter. While each of these aspects of parenting is awesome in principal, it isn't what's important.
What does matter is that my husband and I love our two girls with every ounce of blood that flows through our hearts. We give them a safe, caring, and nurturing home. The kids aren't afraid of being hit, we allow them the freedom to find their own passions and strengths (even if the current passion is for the horrible Rainbow Magic Fairies book series), and they each know unequivocally that they are cherished.
Morning, noon, and night I cuddle them, read to them, talk to them, and play with them. I respect their feelings, and I have an extraordinary amount of patience for the terrible two's, the three-nagers, and the four-year-olds that think they own the house.
Most of all, my kids know that I adore them -- this is why they feel so secure to show me their inner-demons during moments of frustration.
It is because I have vowed not to be the best, and began employing numerous parenting short-cuts (my two year old will often arrive at preschool still in her pajamas) that I am able to be the fun, loving, patient, and honest mother I am. I regularly assemble creative and explorative art projects for the children, I kiss their foreheads and whisper a list of things that are special about them, and when my oldest began to ask about death, I faced my fear of the distressing subject by borrowing and reading Badger's Parting Gifts until all of her questions were answered. I know that there are many mothers, and fathers, who are able to be all this and more with out the use of Nick Jr, but I am not one of them, and that is more than OK.
With my first-born I strived to be super-mommy, painstakingly following the contradicting advice of all the parenting experts. For her first twelve months I breastfed exclusively, even though my tremendous let down water-boarded the babe. I carefully prepared nutritionally balanced pureed meals and kept her sheltered from all back-lit screens. She participated in baby music classes, gymnastics, playgroups, and toddler art class. I even learned infant massage. However, by the time my daughter turned 18-months old, I was burnt out. My quest to be the Best-Mommy-Ever left little room to be a good partner to my husband and friend to myself. At the end of the day I was too tired to practice a half hour of much-needed yoga, let alone have sex with my husband.
When my second came along, I began allowing myself some leniency. While I love the idea of making my own baby food, with a toddler and a 6-month old on my hip, buying, prepping, and cooking a variety of organic vegetables proved to require an extra set of hands, hands that were preoccupied changing the baby and painting with the two-year-old. The jarred food was a fabulous, but not ideal, alternative for me.
Instead of carting the children to three or four organized activities each week, I began allowing them to spend more time playing at home with their toys and in the park. If the sibling rivalry became too much for one day, I would reset the household mood with a half-hour of television.
Prepackage purees and the occasional Dora episode did not harm the new baby. However, if I hadn't, the stress of maintaining parenting perfection may have harmed me, and my family too.
As long as we are providing a safe and loving home, the rest (the TV time, the Disney paraphernalia, the prepackage baby food) really doesn't matter.