To The Mothers Who Raised Us Who Defy All Greeting Card Logic

by Liz Henry
Liz Henry

As modern mothers, I think we’re too hard on ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t raised by the Best Mother in the World. In fact, I was raised by the Okayest Mother on the Planet who straight up did not give AF. The kind of mother who defies all greeting card logic.

Last Christmas, my mother turned to my sister and me, and said, “I raised two strong, independent women, and I don’t know how that happened because it wasn’t my intention.”

We know, Mom, oh how we know.

But this does not mean my mother doesn’t expect a rolled-out red carpet on Mother’s Day despite her general status as a boiling hot mess. Oh no, she does. And because of my mother, I think it’s worth it to look back on all the okayest mothers who raised us and feel better about our choices. God knows we need the self-esteem boost.

You don’t chain-smoke.

When was the last time you looked around your house and thought I’ve really nailed the dive bar vibe with all this smoking. Never? Well, good for you because it means you probably don’t chain-smoke in front of your kids, in your house, or generally smoke at all. All that sugar your kids eat? Doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?

You only use kitchen utensils for their intended purpose.

The “Wooden Spoon” was seriously the fifth member of our family. Sure, I was clever and would pre-emptively hide it, but I can almost guarantee your children do not know the pleasure of the dual purpose of kitchen utensils. When I say, “wooden spoon,” my daughter thinks chocolate chip cookies, not duck and cover.

You actually use car seats.

Freshly divorced, my mother took me on a vacation to the Jersey shore with her new boyfriend who drove a two-seat Datsun. Funny thing about Datsuns, the engine is in the back, under the hatchback — which is exactly the place my mother stuck me for safe keeping on the two-hour drive back home when I was 10. So those front-facing weight guidelines about car seats until our kids are teens? We welcome them.

You’re more Whole Foods than Hamburger Helper.

When I was 9, my mother put me on a SlimFast diet. The problem wasn’t my girth, it was that I was short. Still am. Regardless, my mother feared a lifetime of bullying over my chub and created a new meal plan consisting of unpronounceable chemicals masquerading as chocolate milk. And we’re sweating breast or formula?

You can’t imagine peacing out on your kids.

I barely got the words, “I’m pregnant” out before my mother hightailed it out of Pennsylvania to New Jersey. Nothing says, “I’m here for you” like fleeing the scene. She swears it was bad timing. I’ve let it go. Attachment parents our okayest mothers are not.

You have a squad or at the very least a therapist for moments like these.

There was a time in my life as a young mother when I was so deeply depressed that my mother was concerned about my well-being. You know, just enough to drive two hours and hand me a bottle of her own antidepressants, and then leave. Hug your kids a little tighter, right now.

That time I called my mother “The Okayest Mom on the Planet” and all she saw was glory.

Otherwise I’d be in some deep shit.

We can either look at the choices we make as mistakes or as the best decision with the information we have at the time. My mother tried, and she did it with flair — there isn’t a door she hasn’t walked through without blowing it off first. Without her, my life would be a straight-to-DVD flick for you to bypass during a Netflix scroll-a-thon.

There isn’t a story my mother doesn’t make better, a bad decision she hasn’t made worse, or a mother with the best of intentions who fucked it all up along the way. I stand in the shadow of an original, just taking notes.

May all of us strive not for the Best Mom award, but the okayest-seeking glory.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Your card is in the mail.