The evidence of Fall is undeniable now. The green leaves of summer have given way to the vibrant hues of October. As the leaves fall to the ground, there are several certainties that this signals: Winter is just around the corner, and as a Mom, I’m just good enough.
If you walk through my front door in the afternoon, you will need to step over the scattered array of papers that my children have carefully packed in their backbacks at the end of the school day but have somehow exploded out of their bags and into our entryway. I rake them up, like the leaves in my backyard, sort through them and then toss them into the recycling bin, where they are like a drop of water in a sea of numbers, letters, and school reminders that I have missed. Though I often spend hours each evening helping my teenagers with homework, listening to my first grader read and encouraging my children to do their best, I also forgot to send my youngest son to school with a stuffed animal on mammal day.
I make mashed potatoes from scratch, and prepare German meals for dinner that I’m certain will keep me from ever reaching my goal weight. I am finally getting past the idea that preparing pancakes in the microwave is not cheating my children out of a Norman Rockwell moment. At the same time, I just received another notification from the preschool that a Nutella sandwich and pudding are probably “great snacks” but don’t constitute a lunch.
Do you see where I am going with this? Parenting is a harder job than I ever imagined. The older my children get, the more intense and demanding their needs seem to be, and the less I seem to be able to organize the little stuff. Right now, in my house, we have the preschool meltdowns over hair pretties and a first grader who cries and refuses to go to school if he misses the bus. There are mountains of laundry to be washed, folded and put away, and forgotten saxophones to be shuttled to the school before band. Though I am having those hard conversations with my teenagers about STDs and their developing bodies (and then lie awake at night praying that they make the right choices), I can’t remember when I last signed my 6th grader’s Friday folder. I consider myself lucky if I make it to Collegeville with my two boys in the morning before the final bell, but I try to make it a point each day when I pick them up to ask them about their day and really listen to what they are telling me … and what they aren’t.
I wish that I could be the complete package … that it hadn’t taken me 5 weeks to turn in my background check to volunteer in the schools, or that I didn’t forget to bring the preschool snack in so many times that I am almost embarrassed to drop my daughter off. Fall is when I start counting down the days to Summer vacation … a time where I can fool myself into thinking that being a good mom means listening to my children, spending time with them, and creating lasting memories. I can only hope that despite my obvious shortcomings, my children will believe that their good enough mom is good enough for them.
Published in the St. Cloud Times