The Mother I Thought I Would Be

by Mary Katherine
Originally Published: 

I am not the mother I thought I would be.

This is the thought I had yesterday as my child lay screaming on the floor because I wouldn’t let him swish his fingers around the toilet bowl (again). Tears streamed down his face; My betrayal had cut him to the core.

And there I sat, cross-legged on the closed toilet lid, laughing. Because, dammit, it was hilarious.

What else is a mama to do when it’s 5:30 am, pre-caffeine, and the day’s first meltdown is over toilet water?

As Nugget sent screamy-grams of suffering into the universe, I stood up to grab a towel and clean his hands.

And that is when a strange reflection in the mirror caught my eye.


There she was in all of her glory. Her sleek braid casually strewn over one shoulder. A slight blush colored her cheeks. Her eyebrows were cleanly arched and a pressed shirt fell elegantly over her slender form.

And as she lifted one finger to wag in my face, a shiver went down my spine.

Oh, no! It’s…

The Mother I Thought I Would Be!

I’d seen her before, most recently in the Wendy’s drive-thru. I was ordering some fries to keep The Kid occupied for a long drive. And as I adjusted the rear view mirror…there she was. Her perfect face staring back at me, mouth pursed in judgement.

“You should have ordered the apple slices,” she hissed.

I was frozen in horror, unable to move. I blinked a few times and rubbed my eyes.

“Ma’am….your fries.” Friendly Wendy looked concerned as she tossed the bag through my car window. I pulled up twenty feet and promptly threw it in the trash. Like a crazy person.

Because, y’all…I am haunted.

Haunted by the ghosts of mommy insecurity.

I can’t blame the Pinterest parents for my feelings. I can’t blame my own mother (she’s too supportive). I can’t even blame those Stepford moms at the YMCA. (Full make up at Boot Camp? Come on!)

No, my insanity is driven by the constant fear that I am falling short of the mom I wanted to be. That Nugget is getting royally ripped off.

That I should be doing much, much better.

You see, Mother I Thought Would Be would never be found laughing like a banchee on The John. She would have drawn some water in the sink and redirected the toilet water game. She’d be splishy-splashing away, bubbles filling up the bathroom. Talking about things like water displacement because, you know, educational moments are everywhere!

Then, MITIWB would have cleaned the bathroom floor with an “Oh, kids!” kind of giggle and moved on to the next enriching activity.

I strive to be her, but I can’t keep up. She is so busy doing yoga and crafts and family pictures and Christmas cards. She’s everything I wish to be, but if I’m being completely honest…

I hate her.

We would never be friends. I can’t handle her sanctimonious lectures or her rigid schedule. Her food sucks. And I’m not even sure where my iron is! I throw my hubby’s dress shirts in the dryer (shh! don’t tell).

The Mother I Thought I Would Be? She’s perfect. And I don’t stand a chance of filling her patent leather heels.

But as I sit here watching my toddler roll around on the tiles, kicking his grief out in violent little lashes, I have to tell you..

He isn’t the kid I thought he’d be, either.

So I scoop him off the bathroom floor and wipe his hands clean of toilet water. I look into those beautiful green eyes and giggle.

Yep. We both have some pretty ragged edges.

But we fit together juuuuust right.

Related post: To the Unwashed Masses of Mothers

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