I saw a meme the other day with Mary Poppins and John Candy (playingUncle Buck) comparing how I thought I would be a mother versus what I really am as a mother. Along with a burst of laughter I couldn’t help but think how true this really was to me – and I’m sure to many other women. Before children and the inexperience of the actual life changes that occur when we become mothers, I couldn’t help but to remember thinking about the Mary Poppins I was supposed to be: A cheery disposition. Always put together. Hair neat and up. Makeup on point. And of course wearing a dress and heels every day. I would sing and dance while mothering my beautiful children as they happily tidied their rooms or were feeling blue after doing something naughty. Awe, yes. Mary Poppins. I could have it all and more and everything would be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Little did I know…
Well, three children later and I am no closer to playing Poppins, but I can relate wholeheartedly with Uncle Buck. For those of you who haven’t seen this movie, picture a large middle aged man wearing yellow, elbow-high gloves flipping pancakes with a snow shovel while talking on the phone and enjoying a cigar while trying to win at love and juggling a household of kids with no clue how to balance it all out. Mothering is all about balance and finding out what works and what doesn’t. More often than not, it’s the moments that we take as failures that make us spiral into our heads and the expectations we set for ourselves. Being what they may, I have to ask: Is this a battle of not being able to meet the expectations of society and the social norm of what an acceptable mother should be? Or, is it a battle of our own internal struggle to do it all, have it all, and exceed our own expectations? For me, I can honestly say it is both, and hence my battle with balance.
I thought long and hard about this many times. I reflect on my weaknesses and my strengths a LOT. I constantly find more of each with each passing year and with the wisdom I collect from myself and others over time. I want to find a balance where in my perfect bubble my children get exactly what they need from need from me – every day. I want to put my phone down, turn off the TV, leave distractions, and make eye contact. I want them to know that they are the most important people in the world to me and have my undivided attention. I want to make sure the laundry is done, dinner is on the table, and the house is clean – and all while working a full time job and then some. The battle for balance.
The other day I came home and I made a promise to myself and to my children that they had me. I would leave the unfolded laundry, I would skip the gourmet meal and heat up leftovers. I wouldn’t worry about cleaning today. It was about them. We spent 2 hours of uninterrupted time together. We laughed, we played, we learned and enjoyed just being. I ended that day feeling like I was doing it right. I was being the best mother I could. Then, the guilt set in… The next day the laundry was still waiting to be folded and now there was more. I hadn’t preplanned the next days’ meal and was now scurrying to pull something out of my magic suitcase. There was clutter everywhere from a home that is very much lived in, and I couldn’t bear that the floors still weren’t mopped. My expectations made me feel like I failed.
But I didn’t.
Today I look back on this experience and realize that I need to find my balance. Easier said than done, but I imagine – like life – it must be ever-changing.
By Andrea Simmons firstname.lastname@example.org