The mother I thought I’d be scours Pinterest for the best wheat-free homemade play dough recipe. She tries to engage a little boy who can’t sit still in mixing up the dough. The mom that I am gets irritated when he keeps dipping his fingers in the salty mixture and licking the salt from his fingertips; she shoos him away and finishes the dough herself. The mom I thought I’d be proudly brings the tough to the kitchen table, showing her boys how to roll it, shape it, squish it. She is disheartened when one of them eats it and the other declares it too sticky and throws it on the floor. Both boys run away after only a few minutes. The mom that I am brushes past and cleans up the kitchen, sneaking a piece of chocolate while she’s at it.
The mother that I thought I’d be has carried a crate full of yarn across the country, each skein an unknit dream of a hat or a sweater to keep a kid warm. She has dozens of cloth diapers, also dragged across the country, waiting to be used. The mother that I am contemplates taking the crate of yarn to the thrift store as she reaches for another papery Huggies in the endless work of keeping little bums dry.
The mother that I thought I’d be tries so hard to love every. single. minute. of every long day, while the mother that I am just tries to get through to another bedtime without breaking down.
She is not so strong, the mother that I thought I’d be. Every day, as I move forward in this parenting journey, her hopes diminish, her voice grows weak. I can barely hear her, now. The mom that I am is hell-bent on survival, and that makes her strong. She is wise in that she knows she’ll never be able to do it all and love it all, so instead she trudges through, lifting her head up every now and again to appreciate the bits of beauty:
blowing bubbles in the backyard after two days of rain;
the boys playing quietly, side by side;
the baby falling asleep just before I am about to eat dinner;
the low, intimate sounds of all of us sharing sleep.
So I come to you, good-enough mama, strong, warrior woman, with my white flag raised, palms open and empty. I surrender to her, the mother that I am.