Before I had kids and well into parenting my first, I thought I was going to be the best mom ever. I was going to read all the books, make all the right decisions, and parent the heck out of my kid. He’d grow up to be a kind, intelligent, successful man—and it would be mostly my doing as a perfect mom. Because I thought that’s what motherhood meant—finding and achieving the perfect way to parent.
Yeah, nope. Cuz that’s not how it works.
Now my goals for my son are for him to be happy. Period.
If he is intelligent or successful, I’m sure it won’t be because of me.
What I’ve learned is this: the goal for motherhood isn’t to do it all perfectly. It’s to show up.
Because motherhood is a verb. Motherhood is doing the things that need to be done. Driving kids to early morning practices. Saying no to a screaming toddler who wants to eat candy for dinner. Scrubbing a vomit-stained carpet in the middle of the night.
Currently, I’m reading the book of Proverbs. If I had to sum it up, I’d say the purpose of Proverbs is to teach you wisdom. The definition of wisdom in Proverbs is choosing rightly.
It’s choosing rightly—not choosing perfectly.
When your baby wakes up for the fourth time in the middle of the night and you are bleary-eyed from lack of sleep and your brain is so tired you are having trouble remembering the formula to water ratio, you get up anyway and you make the bottle anyway and you feed your child anyway—that is choosing rightly. That is motherhood.
You showed up. You might not have shown up with a smile on your face or in clean, matching pajamas. If you’re like me, you showed up grouchy and in the spit-up stained t-shirt and yoga pants you wore all day and went to sleep in. But you showed up.
You don’t have to do it perfectly. You just have to show up.
The value in motherhood isn’t doing it all the “right way” or being happy and content with all your motherly duties. The value is in showing up and doing what must be done even though you don’t want to. This is you loving your kids—even if the feelings aren’t there.
So, if you are giving yourself a hard time because you’re not enjoying every moment with your child or because you thought you’d be doing a better job of this whole mothering thing, give yourself a break. You are showing up and that is enough.