I am not that mom who sits on the floor with you playing My Little Pony for hours. I am not the mom who builds entire towns on Minecraft. I have never learned to play Pokémon and I never (ever) will. I am well aware of my failure in this aspect of parenting.
I am thankful for my husband, who excels in watching cartoons and playing video games. I smile when I see him and the kids tossing a football in the yard. (In the yard. No throwing balls in the house. Jesus.) I laugh when they wrestle and tickle and play, play, play.
I’m just not that mom.
I was the young soon-to-be mom, scared to death but determined, so determined, to bring you into this world and love you like no other. I was the single mother of two who worked long hours and still held dance parties with just my two boys where we sang at the top of our lungs and the laughter rang as loud as the music. Before you were even born, I was the mom eating cherry cheesecake so I could see you dance. (And because cheesecake.)
When I first saw you, I knew that you would hold my heart forever. Two more times I met my new sweet babies, and two more times my heart grew to wrap around all of you. When you were a baby, I was that mom who couldn’t sleep for looking at you. I can still feel you, so tiny, snuggled on my chest. When I see you asleep now, I still picture you curled up in footie pajamas, all wispy hair and dark lashes against perfect skin.
I was that mom who rocked you all night, patting and bouncing and shh-shh-shhing when you cried. I was the mom who panicked over every bump and bruise. I was the mom who kissed boo boos. I was the mom who spent untold hours waiting on casts for broken bones or bandages for cut fingers. (Safety scissors, my ass.) I was the mom whose leg you were firmly wrapped around the day we toured preschools. I was the mom who went to school online in order to work from home because you needed me.
I am the mom who signs notes and checks homework and packs lunches. I’m the mom who makes the doctor’s visits and dentist appointments and parent–teacher conferences. I’m the mom who hasn’t worn anything but thrift store clothes for years so that you can go to school wearing clothes that are apparently hand-sewn by the famous athletes of the world.
I’m the mom who makes stupid jokes and sings off-key and acts sillier than I am, just to see you smile. I’m the mom who wouldn’t trade those smiles for the entire world.
I’m the mom who loves you so much more than I could ever explain. And the mom who tries so hard to show you that.
But most times, I feel like I am also the mom who is failing.
I’m the mom with chronic, recurring depression. I’m the mom with generalized anxiety disorder. I’m the mom with PTSD. I’m the mom who has chronic migraines. I’m the mom with chronic pain. I’m the mom who sees more doctors than hairstylists. (Hahahahaha, I don’t even remember the last time I went to a stylist. But you have an appointment tomorrow.)
I am the mom who struggles every single day to accomplish the things that have to be done so that you can have a “normal” life. I am the mom who does your laundry even when I have to sit down to sort it. I’m the mom who makes sure the water bill gets paid so that you can shower. I’m the mom who clips your fingernails and buys you toothpaste and nags you to wear deodorant.
I’m also the mom who forgets things. Not the big stuff, like birthdays or Christmas, although there have been a few notes from the Tooth Fairy instead of cash. But I forget things that you already told me. I forget that when you were playing a video game yesterday, you scored 58 touchdowns and a free throw, and spawned—maybe a chicken? I don’t know. I forget.
But I’m also the mom who can tell in a single glance when you are upset, and who listens to you when you are sad and angry, and when you are happy and excited, even if I do tend to forget your ponies’ names and LeBron’s stats and how to “catch ’em all.”
I’m the mom who wants to slay all your dragons and breathe fire on anyone who dares to hurt you.
I’m also the mom who too often hurts too much to cook dinner. I’m the mom who lets you eat an unhealthy amount of macaroni and pizza rolls. I’m the mom who has piles of clean laundry on the couch because my arms ache so badly I can’t fold it. I’m the mom who gets overwhelmed too easily. I’m the mom who has to hide when things get to be too much. I’m that mom who cries in the bathroom when I’ve let you down.
I’m the mom who stays awake at night worrying about you. I’m the mom who wishes she could save all your hugs and all your “I love you’s” and get them back out on the days when there are no hugs, just slamming doors.
I’m the mom who loves you so much. You are the children who save my life every day. I’m the mom who is trying to be the parent you deserve, even when I’m not the one you might want.