Because I was silly (and young) enough to think there was such a thing.
I was the school party mom for 13 years. Never missed one. I learned where to buy cupcakes that looked homemade, how to use licorice sticks as straws, and how to create magic with paste glue and pipe cleaners. There should be a degree in that stuff.
I was also the field trip mom with the big trundle seat in my Mercedes Benz that comfortably carried 6 kids. I became an expert at travel snacks, I Spy games, and puking kids.
I never learned how to sew but became a master with the glue gun and found a resident seamstress so that my kid wouldn’t be the only one who went to the 50’s dance with a glued felt poodle skirt.
Parenting is tricky. You think you are doing all the right things while you are probably doing all the wrong ones. If effort was rewarded in cash, I’d be filthy rich.
Unfortunately, the best thing parents have going for them is also the very thing they have going against them: none of us wants to do to our kids what our parents did to us. So we overcompensate. Thereby likely screwing our kids up in the opposite direction.
To say that both my parents had their shortcomings would be an understatement. One I didn’t see for years and the other never involved herself in anything that had to do with me. I might well have been the only kid that made pictures and wrote stories for my parents to view on Parent Night, knowing full well they would never be seen. As a latchkey kid, I survived quite nicely, thank you. Because I was loved and understood my lot.
But I would do better. Much better.
As my daughter celebrates her 29th birthday, I remain very happy knowing (although I was not at all sure at the time) that I did the best I could. I know I made mistakes, but I showed up. Every single day. I learned how to be a mom, nurse, driving instructor, playmate, tutor, chef, chauffer, babysitter, counselor, best friend, evil mother, cheerleader, diorama maker, flash-card holder, party dress picker-outer and supreme advocate. In the end, I also learned how to let go.
It got me to thinking (always a dangerous proposition). Wouldn’t it be nice if kids remembered every single thing their parents did for them? Every changed diaper, cleaned up puke, tended fever and averted catastrophe. Not to mention the countless Disney movies, birthday parties, school plays, sleepless nights worrying about where the money would come from and wondering if they would be okay the first day of school.
News flash: Parenting is hard on the parent. As a mom I became a warrior. At the ready to fight for my kid, protect her from injustices, teach her how to draw inside the lines of life, make friends, and be an upstanding citizen all while trying to carve out a life of my own, tending to the house and the family.
It has been said that the pay for parenting is pathetic. I beg to differ. I’ve got a lovely little gold box made of Popsicle sticks that is worth nothing less than a million bucks.
No matter how old they are, our children are always our babies. The memory of how they smell, holding them tight and singing lullabies is just a tear stain away.
Perfect doesn’t matter when you love that much.
So, on this day, my kid-lets birthday, I’d like to raise a glass of the finest champagne to toast my little girl. Remembering the first time I saw you, Amanda Leigh. How beautiful you were then and how beautiful you are now. Happy 29th Birthday, Sweet Pea.
Your imperfect mom