On occasion I hear you make self-deprecating comments about your abilities as a mom (e.g., “I know I wasn’t that great of a mom,” “She’s the mom I wish I could have been,” “I could have done so much better”). Before I became a mom, I brushed off these comments because I didn’t really understand their inaccuracy.
Before I became a mom, I didn’t really understand just how hard it is to be a parent. It wasn’t until I sat awake at 4:00am with a screaming, inconsolable infant that I began to understand this. I continue to grow in my understanding with each developmental milestone, bout of illness, discipline dilemma, and anxiety regarding my own abilities as a mother.
Before I became a mom, I didn’t really understand just how much gratitude I should express to you on Mother’s Day. I often made or purchased a gift and sent a card because it was the right thing to do. Yes, I did appreciate you, but I had no idea just how much gratitude I should really have. I didn’t really understand the pain of childbirth, the sleepless nights, the endless worries, the tough decisions, and the self-sacrifice. I didn’t really understand what it means to die to yourself day in and day out in order to give your children what they need.
Before I became a mom, I didn’t really understand that motherhood is incredibly messy and imperfect. When I was a child you would sometimes do things that I would see and I’d think to myself that I would never do those things when I became a mom (of course, there were other wonderful things that I would always do). How laughable! I didn’t really understand that some days are merely about survival, not about thriving. Now, on both good and bad days, I often do things that you did. Do you know why? Because they worked. Because they were good. I just didn’t really understand that when I was a child.
This brings me back to your self-deprecating comments. Before becoming a mom, I didn’t really understand how easy it is to beat yourself up about the job you do as a mom. I understand that now. I didn’t really understand how hard it is to be a mom, or how motherhood is messy and imperfect. I understand all this now (and my understanding will no doubt continue to grow as my children get older).
You were a great mom. You are a great mom. I know this because I look at myself and at my sister and I see the impressions of your efforts all over us. They’re visible in who we are as individuals and in who we are as mothers. Take a good look at us and you’ll see that you did a great job.
Thank you for doing such a great job.