Moms, Here’s a Reminder that It’s the Little Things That Matter the Most
I tend to be the type of mom who overthinks things, the kind of mom who goes for the grand gestures and constantly thinks I'm not doing enough as a mom. In my mind, every day should be an adventure, every meal should be gourmet, every party Pinterest-worthy, every playdate a magical experience.
Of course, I don't actually have the skills, capacities, energy, or budget to make all of those things happen all of the time for all of my children, so I tend to spend a lot of my mothering feeling sorely defeated. In my quest to make everything “special,” I actually make things kind of terrible by placing unrealistic expectations on everyone, exhausting myself and my kids in the process, and then winding up cranky when they aren't delighted and overjoyed with my efforts. “Look what I did for you!” I will end up saying in exasperation, even though it's obvious the only person I did it “for” was myself. Sigh.
Needless to say, coming into school break, I have been a little nervous about how our summer would go. I dutifully made our summer bucket lists, planned for healthy yet fun snacks, and rearranged my work schedule so we could fit in plenty of pool time. I braced myself for long, tiring days of trying to entertain my kids and essentially placing myself on the backburner until school would start up again. I convinced myself that if we weren't packing every day full to the brim of pool visits and splash pads and museum trips and camping and ice cream stops, that we wouldn't have the best summer ever — and the best summer ever is, of course, always the goal.
And then I saw this Instagram post, shared by popular motherhood and lifestyle blogger, Joanna Goddard of Cup of Jo:
I hate to use this expression, simply because my kids say it about a billion times a day, but I'm going to say it anyways:
I know, right?!?
Is that not the most affirming, validating, and downright relief-giving sentiment about motherhood that you have heard in awhile? That is truly is the little things, the very things that we might be doing because we are exhausted and can't take it anymore and want to give up, are the very things that our kids will think our downright awesome and remember for all of time?
The comment section of Goddard's post was full of mothers like me who were basically all like, OMG THANK YOU. “I fed my kids spaghetti with butter, lollipops and pretzels tonight,” wrote one tired mom. “Thanks for making me feel less like a jerk.” Another shared that her mom used to do something similar: “Brilliant! My mum used to call it a “surprise plate” and usually made it on a night she and my Dad were going out and we stayed with the baby sitter. We'd get to eat it sitting on the floor in front of the telly, and she's put a tea towel over it so we could pull it off and see what surprise was underneath. She probably thought it was a cop out too – but it gave her more time to get ready – you know hot hair rollers and all that in the 70's.”
Maybe you're not as amazed at this Instagram post as I was, but even if you're not jaw-dropped astounded as I was, the post is still a great reminder to all of us to let the reigns relax for just a little while as moms. Because the perfectly-planned playdate may not be as great as the spontaneous game of cards on the floor when you have nothing else to do; the trip to the ice-cream parlor may not be as memorable as dripping Popsicles in the backyard; and the Pinterest-worthy party might not hold a candle to the night you sat around the campfire doing nothing more than sharing stories.
It's the little things that our kids will remember — if we relax enough to let them. I know I needed help in this department, so here's my encouragement to take a step back and redefine my idea of “good” parenting. Cheers to a summer of “plates of little things” and big memories. Who's with me?