How I failed at being the ideal mom

Every mother-to-be imagines what their future child might be like. This post is not about that. It is about imagining the mother that I would be, and how I was terribly wrong. I was going to run the PTA. I was going to wear matching sweater sets. I was going to make rice krispie treats and I was going to vacuum out my car every week.  

Fast forward about six years and I am pulling, a less than uniformly cut, batch of brownies out of the back of a dented Subaru. Crushed Goldfish crackers rain down from the open door. I enter the multi-purpose room carrying the abomination in Pyrex and spot the bake sale table. There she is… the mom that I was going to be.

She tossed her head back to laugh at what another sweater set said and her perfectly highlighted a-line cut barely moved. Her handbag is tucked under the foldout table and is marked with a repeating pattern of, “RLRLRLRL.” I bet that when she picks it up, the bottom isn’t even sticky. She is the kind of mom who knows all of the Zumba steps.  Not like me, practicing at home and still resembling in inebriated flamingo with every new move. At least I was wearing my nicest yoga pants, not that they had ever seen a yoga class, and my Captain America shirt was… mostly clean.

I guess that I could blame my bag lady chic on my kid’s busy schedule of speech, OT, and ABA. Maybe my constant state of, “tired,” released me from the societal obligation that once pressed into the softest parts of my brain telling me to put on some damn lip gloss. The truth is, the only thing that I can blame is my own silly fantasies. If I was not that person before becoming a mom, what on earth would make me think I would pull it off now? We all start out in that perfect baby room. New paint. Tiny little socks folded in a tiny little dresser. Eventually the fantasy ends and you find a grilled cheese sandwich in the toy box and car keys in the peanut butter. If life is messy, then I am living life to the fullest.

During my son’s first years of school I met so many moms that I lumped into her category. They would ask which class was my son’s homeroom. I would tell them and then watch as they registered the name of the teacher as the one heading the ASD special day class. Then they would work to make sure that their expression didn’t change. (Botox helped.) I needed a reason to hate them because I had failed at becoming the ideal mom.

Then, a few minutes later…

Ideal Mom: “I hope this is not too personal. My youngest is 3. He isn’t talking much. I’m not sure what to do. I asked around and a few people said you might be the one to talk to.”

I looked at her face. Makeup couldn’t hide the fear. I knew that face. I’ve made that face. She wasn’t perfect. She was a mom.

We all have our strengths and we all have our weaknesses. I could never run a bake sale. I’m a tone-deaf music docent. However, I have become a wiz at paperwork and can rock out an IEP. My fear face is gone. My, “we are in this together,” face is on. As it turns out, the world needs all kinds of moms.

Photo by Pixabay

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