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You're the Worst mom in the entire world

You are the worst mom in the entire world. That is the script that played on repeat in my brain this afternoon while a friend and I sat and watched our children play at the park. On our way there, my four year old had thrown a major tantrum, taking her shoes off and throwing them at my head. I pulled over repeatedly to put the shoes back on her feet and correct her, only to have her wait for me to strap in, pull off, and become a shoe-pitching target once more. I finally lost it. I yelled something awful at her, and my six year old’s eyes grew wide. I knew it then and there: I was definitely the worst mom in the entire world.

Only, I’m not. And on days when I’m really nailing it (in my own mind) as a mom, I’m not the best mom in the entire world either. The fact is, I’m a pretty average mother. Sometimes I set up a Montessori style activity for my kids (putting the entire thing on Instagram, obvi), and other times I yell at them because I want so badly to control them and their behavior so it suits me and what I am doing at the time (which is probably spacing off on my phone watching how other moms do stuff with their kids on Instagram).

But in my head, I’ve classified moms into two groups: worst and best. There are only two groups. Be in the good one or you are automatically in the bad one. There is no in between. The very definitions of the words “worst” and “best” literally imply that only one mother could occupy each title. So for me to assume that I, on any given day, would be the world’s absolute highest performer in either category is just silly. I’m simply not that great, and not that awful. What I am, however, is self-focused enough to think I could be either one!

Just as we were leaving the park (and I was beginning to unzip my suit of self-shame), I witnessed another mom handling a temper tantrum thrown by her likely eight or nine year old daughter. Kicking, screaming, running away; it was a really ugly scene, but the mom handled it with textbook finesse and patience. I watched with empathy and amazement…and then I zipped that shame suit right back up. This lady was definitely the best mom in the entire world.

Only she’s not. She’s a garden variety mother just like the rest of us. And that is completely acceptable. So acceptable that we can hang the shame suits up in the closet-or better yet, throw them away. So this Mother’s Day I’m not going to lament my failures from the past year. I’m not going to wake up with expectations of a breakfast celebration of Saint Mother and then wallow in a sea of self-pity when it doesn’t arrive. I’m going to get up, kiss my kids and husband, enjoy the hand-made cards, and be grateful that I’m a middle of the road mama.

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