The pressure can be crushing, at times. So many ways to fall short. So many people doing it better; or so they would have you believe. I’ve finally caved. I’ve left the perfect parenting race to be an okay mom. I no longer vie for the trophy of ‘World’s Greatest Mom.’ I like my race better. I like the people running beside me and I like the way I feel now that I’ve stopped reaching for that dangling carrot and settled in with my toblerone and a glass of wine. I am an okay mom and I am okay with that.
The day I realized I was out of the race was the day that I felt weak from my most recent ‘diet.’ I was feeling guilty for not volunteering at my girls’ school, so I was baking a treat for the class. I was helping the oldest with her homework and changing the diaper of my youngest. I was filling out a form for the little one’s speech therapy and paying a bill online. I hadn’t peed since breakfast but supper had to be prepped so that would have to wait. The eldest began to cry because I had forgotten to sign her permission slip and her indoor shoes were too tight. The youngest began to scream because I couldn’t understand her request. She either wanted to watch the Ninja Turtles on television or she wanted to go outside and ride her scooter, I think. The cat twisted around my feet and the doorbell rang while the smoke alarm began to sound. The cupcakes were burning. The bank account laughed and laughed as I tried to pay the bill. The children wailed and the cat stared with disdain at how I had let this afternoon fall apart.
Then I stopped. I took a long, slow blink. I dropped out of the race.
I closed the computer and turned off the oven. I ripped the batteries from the smoke detector and told the older one that homework could wait. I ignored the door and piled the kids into the car, but not without first staring defiantly back at the cat. We went to a drive thru and ordered diet-defying food and drove to the park. We sat on the grass and got dirty and ate our food and laughed at the squirrels as they raced up and down the trees.
When we got home we were sleepy and it was later than bedtime. We decided to skip baths and wear our clothes to bed. The food prep from earlier still sat on the counter untouched. It would have to wait. We read books and cuddled and turned off the alarms. Tomorrow, we would tell responsibility and expectation that we needed a break. Tomorrow, we would not rush or argue or let life pressure us to move more quickly than we could handle. We could cope with this pace and we liked it.
As I rolled into bed, once the girls were fast asleep and dreaming of sweet treats and playing in the park, I realized that I still hadn’t peed.