I have a confession: I hate getting down on the floor to play with my kids. I don’t like to build with Legos, wrestle with sofa pillows, or drive Hotwheels cars around imaginary race tracks. You won’t find me down on all-fours piggybacking my toddler around the living room, either. I’m just not that mom.
There’s a school of thought that if you don’t do things like this, you can’t possibly be a good mother. Good mothers do these things whether they enjoy them or not, they say. Mothers are whatever their kids need them to be—they are everything. Right?
Well, I may be in the minority here, but I think that’s just crazy talk. Mothers can’t be everything. Myself and many other women I know are perfect examples of amazing mothers who aren’t everything—far from it, in fact. It’s not that I refuse to get down on the floor and play with my kiddos, I’ve done it a million times before, it’s just not one of my strong suits. I don’t shine in the fort-building department, but I’m still an awesome mom.
Children get what they need from those around them, not just from one person. Diversity is a good thing; it gives us character. One person can’t be everything. Kids get some of what they need from their parents, maybe a little from their siblings, some from a teacher, their grandparents, friends, cousins, the guy at the gas station, the lady at church, the cast of Paw Patrol—you get the point. It’s truly a colorful quilt, and everyone’s looks a little different. Mothers can’t be the whole quilt, it’s just not possible.
Being a good mother sometimes means giving your kids your best you. Let me tell you what’s not my best me: the me who fakes enjoyment while I build castles out of Mega Blocks. So, my kids get the castle-building piece of their quilts from someone else. They know I don’t like to play on the floor, but they don’t hold it against me, because there are a million other things that I love to do with them—and I’m actually good at.
For example, my kids know if they want to whip-up a batch of cookies for absolutely no reason, I’m their girl. I never say no to fresh baked cookies. I’m the mom who will read book, after book, and still make the same silly voices the third time through. I’m the mom who will take you shopping for school supplies, and give you all the time you need to select the perfect backpack. I don’t like to be rushed through important decisions, either. I’m the mom who will talk you down from the ledge when you think the world is crumbling around you. I’ll dust you off, give you the best hug you’ve ever had and a pep-talk to match. I’ll help you navigate your emotions, and talk to you about all the things that would make your daddy blush. I’m that mom.
There are mothers out there who must make more of the quilt on their own, and they likely wear many hats to get the job done. That’s OK, too. But if you’re this mom, please go easy on yourself. It’s OK to be awesome in one area and lackluster in another. You can hate reading bedtime stories, and still make the most amazing birthday cake ever. Kids don’t expect perfection; they just want you.
My kids love me for who I am, they’re not worried about what I’m not. Their daddy loves to wrestle, and build blanket forts. He’s the noble stead who carries them on his back across the living room turned Wild West, but he sucks at making cookies. That’s my piece of the quilt.
We are what our children need, but we can’t be all of it. Our kids will make beautiful quilts one day, and we, as their mothers, will be the seams and stitches that hold the whole thing together, even if we aren’t every single square.