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I Wanted To Be The Perfect Mom

Super Mom 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. securedownload (6)

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.securedownload (11)

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.

Love,

Your imperfect mom

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Chloe Jeffreys - Simply perfect.

Rick Gualtieri - My excuse whenever I get caught sitting there with my youngest while there’s some horrific monster movie on the screen “I never claimed to be a good role model”.

And I’m sticking to that. 🙂

Susan Smart - Well said, Tammy . And, to Amanda Leigh, happy birthday. Guess you both have
A lot to be thankful for today. Blessings abound !

Vicki - Beautifully written Tammy!

Tammy - Thanks, Vicki. As a mom yourself, I know you relate!

Tammy - Rick, who amongst us hasn’t done that?! I was a bigger sissy than my kid was. Still, having to calm nightmares in the middle of the night isn’t awesome. I’m sure my 5 year old hated doing it. Haaa! It’s been a while, so happy to see you here!

Tammy - Thanks, Chloe. There isn’t a parent in the world that doesn’t understand the true work and worth of it all. Happy to have you here. Thanks for that!

Tammy - Hi sweet Susan, so happy to see you here! Yes, we ALL keep getting older, don’t we? And we do have a lot to be thankful for. Kids are a blessing in between the times they drive us absolutely mad … what we do without them?! Speaking of blessings … I count you among mine.

Tana Bevan - Tammy~A few days ago my 20-something darlin’ called. We spent close to an hour on the phone, with her filling me in on the latest in her life. While I recall the things I did wrong & wasn’t able to do for her, she seems to have a far different perspective. During our conversation, she thanked me for being there for her, believing in her, supporting her, loving her unconditionally. Just thinking about all the kind & loving words she said — and the love behind them — brings tears to my eyes. Tammy, you may be imperfect, but I’m willing to bet that in your daughter’s eyes, you’re the most WONDERFULLY, PERFECTLY imperfect mother she could ever have. Hugs my friend. Enjoy your darlin’, cuz no matter the awesome woman she is and continues to be, you’re right, she’ll always be your baby.

mel glenn - I forgot who said it, but the line goes, “90% of life is showing up,” but it sounds like you made all the right moves. We are haunted by the specter of our parents’ omissions, and we try to do better. The hardest part of parenting is letting go. No matter how old they are, they are still your kids.
Thank you for a wise and perceptive column.

Tammy - Tana, I do love to knowing that there are grown children out there that love and appreciate their parents. Your daughter is a reflection or you, your gifts, your love and your sacrifices. I’m happy for you that you are getting what you deserve on the parental front. It doesn’t always go that way. As far as my kidlet thinking I’ve been a fab mom, I can only hope so. So happy for your sharing, Tana. Thanks for that.

Tammy - Mel, I SO agree with that saying! I’ve built a life and many a business on that cornerstone. I don’t think I made all the right moves…but I did make them for all the right reasons. I have hugely improved on the letting go part. Respecting her privacy, not pushing myself on her. We can only hope it is the right thing. Because what I’d really like to do is pop over for a dinner once a week. Haaa! Thanks for being here, Mel. Love you for it.

Lois Alter Mark - Awesome post which every mother can relate to! You seem pretty perfect to me, Tammy!

Nancy Hill (@Nerthus) - Baked at home or baked in the corner bakery, the cupcakes were filled with love, just as were the popsicle sticks. And that is all that matters. Nice post!

Ellen Dolgen - I felt the same way, then I learned that there is no such thing at a perfect Mom. It is perfectly fine to be imperfect!

Judy Lee Dunn - What a salute to imperfection. As a single parent (and a first grade teacher), I always regretted the things I had missed: my daughter’s field trips, the chance as a “room mother” to participate in the parties, the chance to accompany my child to school on the first day and give her emotional support. But, reading your beautiful piece, I realize that parenting is much more than that. It is being ready to pick your third grader up at 9pm because she thought she could spend the night at a grind’s house but realized late that she really needed to be with her mom. It is picking her up in your arms when she falls on a nail on the side of the house and needs emergency stitches. It’s watching through tears as she walks across the stage to get her college degree. Your post has brought so many memories back for me. Thanks for writing it.

Tammy - This imperfect mom completely agrees with you, Ellen. So happy you popped in for the read!

Tammy - Hi Lois, thanks for that. I remember when my daughter was in grade school. She told me that I was the most perfect wonderful mom in the world. Should have gotten that in writing! Even if it would have been in crayon. Haaaa! So glad you enjoyed the read, and uber happy to see you here!

Tammy - Hi Nancy, you got that right! It doesn’t matter ‘how’ it just matters that you do. And I did. And still do. Thank you for the read and the sharing!

Tammy - Hi Judy, absolutely right on! Every mom and dad know that its about being there. Ready to cuddle, cure, feed, comfort or support. Every day forever more. A thankless wonderful job that none of us would trade for the world. So happy it spoke to you and happier still you shared with men! Thanks for that.

Tammy - Lori, just saw this comment. You are hilarious! Stapling badges on cub scout shirt. Ahahahahahha! You are my kind of girl!! So happy to know you are on the other end. Shortcut moms unite … we are in good company!

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