The Perfect Mother
It’s one of those days where I’m feeling pretty good about myself. I’ve got on clean pants, makeup, and my hair is up. I remember brushing my teeth and actually getting the toothpaste to foam before having to spit it out and race towards the child who likes to gnaw on laptop cords.
The diaper bag is packed, the rolls are neatly tucked into a Bella Band (oh yes, I still wear one – judge away), and my house is semi clean for a slight “Oh! I already did the dishes” pick me up when I come back home.
I am ready. We are ready.
It’s story time at the library.
Heading out, I am confident. I look and smell clean – so a win all the way around. My child is neatly dressed (much better than me, which seems to be the norm these days).
I take my place at in the library circle next to a mom who looks like me – no frills, semi awake and just glad to have made it out the door sans barf. We smile wearily yet happily at our little ones as they eye each other up. Her child also looks better than her. Perhaps it’s the new clothes they get every 3 months. Perhaps it’s the 2 guilt free naps a day.
We clap, sign, sign, pat, and roll our way through the half hour. Books are read, songs are repeated. I’m chatting with the new mom next to me. I feel happy to have made a friend. I feel content with myself.
Then I see her.
The Perfect Mother.
Perfectly, impeccable dressed in a crisp blouse and a WHITE skirt – we both stop and look as she gracefully does the motions – towheaded child in her lap also waving along. Her hair is completely in place – curled and poofed to bounce around her face. Her child gazes up at her in adoration as mine heads for the plug in on the wall.
Sitting next to her equally beautiful friends she simply beams Ultra Motherhood. There isn’t an ounce of fat on her – perhaps she is the nanny? And yet, I know this isn’t true. Her legs are toned and tanned, her smile is white and everything she says is met with a nod from all the other mothers in the group. I have on jeans to hide the paleness of my legs (akin to a dead person). The ring on her finger semi blinds me from across the room.
I am jealous. I feel suddenly inadequate as a mother – heck – as a human being. I feel the urge to throw up a little in my mouth – but realize that then I would smell like throw up. So.
We all head out the door. She places her laughing child into a $1,500 stroller as mine screams and throws herself backwards against me. We head down the sidewalk, and I marvel at the whiteness of the skirt. I wouldn’t make it out the door in that thing – she made it to story time and back spot free. Also, that skirt wouldn’t fit over my thigh. Notice the singular use of thigh.
I am stuck behind her as we walk to our cars. She chats with her friends about a new BMW, an addition to their home for an aupair, her husband finishing his residency at the local hospital. I remember we are out of cat food, and to look for the source of the smell of death coming from the backseat of my car. Pretty sure it’s a diaper. Not sure where it is. Or how long it’s been there.
Feeling more and more insecure, frumpy, fat, and disgruntled with my life, I arrive at my car to put my child in. I think about naptime. As I buckle her in, she looks up at me with big eyes. And smiles. Then pats my hand.
My eyes fill with tears as I realize how silly I have been. And judgmental – because I almost hated someone simply from their status in life.
And while it would be so easy to end this with a, “She’s probably miserable and in a lot of debt,” that wouldn’t be fair. She might have $50 million in the bank and be a blonde Mother Teresa.
It’s not about her. It’s about me. Being secure in who I am as a mother, as a woman, as a human being.
To my daughter, I am the perfect mother. But if I can’t see that, accept that for what it is, she won’t either one day. How can I reassure her that she is amazing, beautiful, and special if I don’t feel that way?
I’d also like to pass down to her the secret of wearing an white skirt all day while being a mother, but that’s setting the bar a little too high.
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