“If I could pick my mom, I would pick you,” says my 9-year-old.
“That’s so sweet,” I say somewhat suspiciously. “Why?”
“Because you’re the best mom in the world,” she replies, then flounces out of the room.
Really? No way.
Some days I’m convinced that I’m among the worst moms in the world. I don’t mean that I’m in the company of those who physically or emotionally hurt their children. That is a different category altogether. Instead, it’s a subtle failing on my part to, in the words of Mary Poppins, be “practically perfect in every way.”
I snap at the kids to hurry up through breakfast because they’re going to be late for school. I threaten to take away the toddler’s lovey if she doesn’t stop running around the dinner table roaring like a lion. I roll my eyes when my 6th grader falls in a heap to the floor because she’s stubbed her toe. I lose my patience when my middle one recounts the day’s events in detail for many, many, many minutes. I seriously daydream about what it would be like if I didn’t have kids at all.
So please don’t pick me if you’re looking for the best mom in the world.
But still pick me.
You should pick me because I’m not afraid of spiders or climbing tall mountains or skinning my knee. Failure doesn’t scare me; not trying does, especially if you really want to but for whatever reason, you don’t. Trying takes bravery and confidence and faith. I can teach you how to be brave, but you should also know that it’s okay to ask for help, to know your own limits and to reach your goals in the company of others.
You should pick me because I know how to cartwheel, skateboard, roller skate and ice skate. I love to go to baseball games and not just for the beer and hotdogs. I love to watch you play soccer and see the determined look on your face when you have an open shot on goal. Even if you don’t make it.
You should pick me because I will always hold your hand on take off and landing. Leaving one place and arriving in another, whether good or bad, is fearsome business. A hand to hold makes all the difference.
You should pick me because I will always tell you the truth. Not the dead-end truths that will only slap your heart without offering to lead the way. I will tell you the truth when you need to hear it, even if it’s painful, even if it’s too brilliant to see clearly in that moment. Truth is like a drug: some people have to have it all the time while others get high from depriving themselves of it entirely. Find your sweet spot both in the telling and the receiving of it.
You should pick me because I know just how you like to lie on my arm when I snuggle you down to sleep. I know how to kiss you goodnight with your headgear on without pinching our lips. And when I leave your room after tucking you in, I will always answer your “night-night-see-you-in-the-morning-love-you” with my “night-night-see-you-in-the-morning-love-you.”
You should pick me because I will always make your lunches fresh in the morning instead of the night before. It’s how I love you.
You should pick me because I believe in magic. This includes the Tooth Fairy, small miracles, like my out-of-their-element peonies that bloom spring after spring, and the scientific wonders of the universe. Algorithms can only explain so much. The fact that it all works and we are here is some kind of marvel.
You should pick me because we are peas in a pod. We are perfectionists. We hate to make a mistake. We blame ourselves for others’ bad feelings and then we feel their sadness with them. We wonder if we’ve done something wrong when we haven’t done anything at all. We are filled to the brim with enthusiasm and brilliant ideas and we just can’t contain them and there they go strutting all over the room, climbing into people’s laps, purring like kittens waiting to be stroked.
So, yes, pick me, because there is no one who knows you better and no one who loves you more. I am the best mom in the world, as long as I can be your mom.