Whether you are a mom or just have a mom, you know that all mothers have flaws. No matter how hard we try, we just can't be perfect.
Sure, there's that one mom from the PTA meetings who seems perfect. But rumor has it that she flipped out last week in Target when her toddler decided to remove his diaper and run full-speed past the checkout lines.
On a crowded Saturday. There may have been bribes and tears involved.
So while most days begin on a good note, things can take a turn at any moment. Take a few minutes too long in the bathroom when you have a crawling infant and you may find your potted plant has been un-potted.
On the carpet.
Babies teethe, blow out diapers, and don't sleep when you need them to. Toddlers rip pages from favorite books, overturn coffee mugs (wasting precious caffeine), throw epic tantrums and terrorize pets. Older children bicker with siblings, whine, miss their carpool pick up, roll their eyes at you, whine some more, make extreme messes, flunk tests, leave laundry on the floor and argue with you about it all.
Most of these things on their own aren't so major. But combine a few, and even the best of us might blow our tops once in a while. We may yell a little bit, say something we don't mean, send someone to their room, or simply grunt and clench our fists in frustration.
Then the mommy guilt sets in. We set such high standards for ourselves that when the inevitable scolding/yelling/sending the kids out of the room/morphing into The Hulk happens we immediately go to that place inside that labels us as a bad mom.
These are the episodes of parenting that have led to many a spirited playgroup discussion. We lay our mommy indiscretions at the feet of our friends, looking for redemption and hoping they've done the same things we have done. That when the going got tough, they didn't find some inner mommy strength that instantly changed the course of the afternoon, a strength that has eluded us for the most part.
But today, I am going to let you in on a little secret: A secret that may change the way you look at those wee little ones, those unruly but adorable toddlers, and those sulk, eye-rolling teens.
Our biggest cheerleaders may not be our other mommy friends.
A mom's biggest cheerleaders are her children.
The very children who say we are the meanest mommy ever, who roll their eyes when we ask them to clean their rooms and who want nothing to do with us when we shop together at the mall. Children who most certainly think they are being reared by the meanest parents ever. The kids who yell that they hate us or slam doors in disgust while protesting that we are "ruining their lives."
They are the ones who want us to succeed the most.
That's the power of motherhood. These little pieces of our heart walking around in dirty socks with messy hair and runny noses really, really love us. And they want us to do a good job.
I used to work with young children who are at risk for difficulties with school adjustment. Each year, I would have at least a handful of students who have experienced firsthand some of the worst mistakes a mom can make: drug or alcohol abuse, incarceration, neglect, verbal or physical abuse.
And without fail, time and time again, these little children still put their mothers on a pedestal. Because they want them to succeed at being a mom. Their very being depends on it.
They draw pictures of their beautiful, smart mommies. They create visions of what their life will be like when mommy comes home or brings them back to live with her. They gloss over details they don't know I am aware of, creating excuses for their moms who have taken a path not consistent with motherhood.
And yet, these children sit in the imaginary grandstands cheering their mothers on.
We are, most of the time, someone our children can count on. Whether it's a peanut-butter sandwich in a lunchbox, a hug after a fight with a friend, or someone to check spelling homework: mom is there.
So even when she's not consistent, not physically or mentally able, or not even particularly interested in being a mom, her children are still her biggest cheerleaders. They want their mommy to succeed.
So the next time you yell at your little one because she spilled milk for the tenth time or send your teenager to his room for being surly and the guilt sets in, remember this.
Without fail, these little ones are your biggest fans.
They expect you to make mistakes, they accept your apologies, and love you in spite of it all.
Even if their facial expressions and eye rolls don't show it.