We all teach our kids the phrase, “You can be anything you want to be.” It’s important, it gives them hope for their future, blah blah blah. You know what other, possibly more important, phrase we should teach them?
In a nutshell, that’s what happened to me. I never intended to become a mom. It wasn’t something I’d dreamed about when I was a little girl. Procreating wasn’t something I looked forward to after getting married. The idea of having babies and being in charge of another life for the rest of mine wasn’t something that appealed to me.
Then shit happened.
I got pregnant while on the pill. Surprise! My life got turned upside down. Then, after the birth of my daughter, while my husband and I were trying to figure out the next best birth control for me since the pill was a big, fat failure, I got pregnant with my son. They’re 355 days apart.
But something else happened too.
Once I became a mom, once my inside babies became outside babies, and they began growing into little people, I had a light bulb moment. I was actually a pretty damn good mom. And it had nothing to do with how I was wired or maternal instincts. It had everything to do with the fact that I woke up each day and made a concerted effort to be a good mom. Sure, some days are much better than others, and of course I screw up all the time, but that doesn’t make me (or you) a bad mom. If you’re trying, and you’re working at it, and you’re loving the shit out of your kids, you’re a good mom.
There’s a ton of shitty moms out there. We know them. We see them on the evening news. Being a good mom isn’t easy, and it’s something we all choose to do. I could have chosen to be a terrible mom given that it was never something I planned on. I could’ve said, “Well, the universe screwed me over so I’m just going to do a subpar job at this parenting thing.”
Some of us experience failed birth control. Some of us grew up in extremely broken homes. Some suffered through neglect or abuse. Some of us have been in unhealthy relationships. Some of us have every reason to say “fuck you” to motherhood, but we don’t take that path. We can ask for help and seek out resources like therapy and parenting classes and mentors and friends who can walk with us while we fight to give our children the best life possible. Just because life screwed us over doesn’t mean we will fail at parenting, nor should we.
My daughter and son were put into my care, and I decided to be the best mom I could be to them despite the fact it wasn’t something I had ever planned on.
I taught my kids how to walk and talk. I hold them when they’re sick. I catch them when they fall. I give them a million hugs and kisses a day, and I try really hard not to blow up at them when I’m at my wit’s end. I’m teaching them to read and write, and I work my ass off to give them a roof over their head and healthy-ish food in their bellies even if that food winds up on the floor.
I engage with them. I listen to their stories. I watch them put on shows. I teach them how to be kind to one another, to be respectful of others in public. I am raising little human beings who are turning out surprisingly well despite the fact I never wanted this job in the first place. I figured things out and asked for help and worked my ass off and slowly but surely I realized that I was doing it. I was being a mom. A good one. A great one. And I’ve grown to really love and cherish this job I’ve been given.
It’s true that shit happens, but what’s also true is we have a choice as to what to do with that shit. We can either bitch and moan about it and do a lackluster job, or we can (and I’m so sorry I’m saying this) bloom where we’re planted. We can make the most out of whatever situation we find ourselves in, and we can do it with as much joy and fervor as we can muster.
I want my kids to know that they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up. I want them to know that the sky is the limit and the only person keeping them from achieving their dreams is themselves. But I also want them to know that sometimes life doesn’t work out the way we planned. It’s in those moments we have to decide if we’re going to give up or if we’re going to roll up our sleeves and do our best with what we’re given and what’s available to us. It’s in those “shit happens” moments that we realize how strong we are. It’s in those moments that we learn what good moms we can be.