Holidays could easily make me feel like a “mom fail.” As I scroll through Facebook and Instagram, it is obvious my little ones are getting the raw end of the deal. Our elf has basically stayed on the shelf; my boys wore old sports uniforms or borrowed costumes for Halloween; Valentine boxes were reused from last year, and there are no plans for leprechaun traps.
When notes come home about artistic school projects, I groan inside. I am completely incapable of cutting a straight line, which doesn’t translate well for science fair boards and large-scale book reports. My kids do the work because, quite honestly, it looks better than when mom does it.
Pinterest has created an even wider chasm between the haves and have-nots when it comes to creativity and patience. It used to be that only the really talented parents could pull off a showstopper, and now it’s shocking when someone can’t.
But, here’s the thing: I love that you can.
I love giggling over the pictures of your creative elf; going through Valentine’s Day boxes, admiring darling, homemade cards; hearing about the coolest Halloween costumes; and seeing some really amazing science fair projects. I love that you celebrate the heck out of St. Patrick’s Day and make four-tier cakes and hold carnival-themed birthday parties.
And it’s not just the mom stuff. I am in awe of our pediatrician, who diagnosed allergies by a line on my son’s nose, and women who create businesses out of big ideas in cluttered garages. After a chaperoning a school field trip, I am ready for an Advil and some quiet time, but teachers show up every day, all day, and inspire our kids with love and creativity. I could never do or be any of these things, but I am so glad there are women who can.
We teach our kids that different is good and that life would be boring if everyone were the same. But when people are different than we are, or more pointedly, better than we are at something, it makes us feel insecure. It’s as if them being great suddenly makes us less good. That feeling makes us scramble or insult or dismiss or excuse just to put ourselves back on higher ground.
But instead we sink, and we bring other women down with us.
I don’t want people to dial things down so I can feel secure. My friends don’t need to hide their talents so I can feel better about myself. I want to live in a community where women can showcase their strengths and pursue their talents at home and in the workforce without the fear of being or looking “too good.”
When women excel, at anything, it is good for all of us. I love that my kids get to be part of crazy, creative class parties and caring playgroups. I’m grateful for intuitive physicians and gentle dentists who keep my boys healthy. And I like bringing what I have to the table too. I like helping with essay writing and reading. I like sharing book lists, favorite museums and a few good recipes. I like pulling a little extra weight in the school or classroom and driving to soccer practice while another mom is out on the police force or nursing a newborn.
I spent most of my college years studying literature from a feminist perspective, but feminism is different for me now. To me, a real feminist allows all women to discover what their best self is and then lets them be that best in a world, nation and community that refuses to cut down what is painstakingly being built inside or outside the home. We should celebrate the opportunity that women can be anything from a corporate leader to a killer room mom. There is room for all at the table, and everyone benefits when each person gives her best.
I had a neighbor who had a talent for making every moment sensational for her family with visits from the Magic School Bus and themed family evenings. I had another neighbor who was a concert pianist and so cultured and well-spoken you wanted to brush up on grammar and philosophy after chatting with her. I had a friend who donated serious amounts of cash to many organizations children were involved in. Being close to these women didn’t make me a less-successful woman or mother. I was still me, but I was able to learn from their creativity, culture and generosity and hope that a little of their goodness might rub off on me.
Many years ago, in a rough moment of inadequacy, I wondered how I could ever measure up to everyone around me. Then I had a distinct godly impression, almost a voice that said, “I gave you these boys because they needed you to be their mother.” It was a beautiful, spiritual experience as I realized who I was instead of who I wasn’t. My boys didn’t need a college professor, a sports star, a party-thrower, a decorator or a perfectly organized mother. They just needed me, and I was enough.
You are the perfect mother for your children, and your kids just need you. They need your best self, and when you are being that, whoever you are, it is enough. When you understand and believe that, who other people are, what they do and what they have fades into the background. What emerges is your authentic self and your infinite future potential.
An unintended consequence of realizing these things is that your children see confidence and assurance in your mothering. Once you embrace your whole self, there are no more excuses or half-truths, and your children respond. They stop begging to do things like other families and manipulating your emotions to mold you into their ideal parent. They begin appreciating who you really are, and they start enjoying the life you can offer them (well, most of the time).
On St. Patrick’s day, draw a little clover on their hand with green marker, and send them off with a lucky kiss because you show love differently, and it is just the kind of love they need.
This post by Brooke Romney originally appeared on Brooke Romney Writes. It has been published here with the author’s permission. Brooke Romney is a freelance writer and author of the blog Brooke Romney Writes. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.