I stumbled upon a card the other day that said TO THE BEST MOTHER IN THE WORLD.
I imagine a child getting the card for her mother, adding a personal message within and signing off the card with tiny hearts. Ironically, there were also twenty copies of the card at the store, which means at least twenty mothers will be the BEST MOTHER this Mother’s Day.
From a language point of view, the usage of the word BEST for a mass produced item is debatable because to be the best in something would mean to be the only one who is capable of the trait and/or talent that you excel in. From a mother’s point of view, this is just unnecessary competition.
I’ve been a parent for 6 years and I still don’t know what makes a good parent, much less to be the best. On days when things are hectic in the house, we resort to bribery to calm things down (ice cream, iPad, TV). The kids eat fast food once a week, sometimes twice… three times if they are lucky. I don’t make them eat their vegetables if they don’t want to (which lately is very often), on some nights they crash to bed without brushing their teeth and on days that I need a break, I take them to the park to tire them out knowing that that’s a guarantee for a long and deep sleep that night.
I read about mothers who run their household in the opposite manner. They have a schedule on the fridge and each child is allocated hours for twenty different activities over the week. Their children are served hot nutritious meals every day, and they lick the bowls whether served mac and cheese or brussel sprouts. Their house is immaculate, spotless and not a stray Lego in sight. I envy these mothers and wonder how do I get where they there.
And it is here at the end of my 6-year adventure that I realise the biggest mistake I’ve made as a parent. I see, I wonder and I compare. I take it personally that I am not on par with the next parent, based on qualifications that I created in my mind and set myself again. It’s tougher these days when what’s done by day is on Facebook by night, and hiding it from your newsfeed does not obliterate its existence.
It was a Wednesday night and there I was eating my secret stash of chocolate and debating if I should clean or continue wishing that the mess will clean itself, when things clicked (thoughts always make more sense when there’s chocolate): we are as good as the resources that we have.
Could we be better mothers if we all had two nannies and a personal shopper? Perhaps.
Could we be better mothers if the family had a greater disposable income? Maybe.
Could we be better mothers if we are better educated, have a more cultured circle of friends and constantly engaged in discourse concerning current affairs and global issues? Possibly.
Could we be better mothers if we put in more hours bonding and interacting with our child? I don’t know.
Mothers become the best mothers that they can be based on what they have and how they turn constraints around to their favour. What’s normal to some is a luxury to others. What’s ordinary to her is an indulgence to someone else. We could all be better mothers if we are dealt with better cards in life, but we are too occupied with school runs and monitoring bed times to think about the what ifs. In reality, we become better mothers when we get hugs at the end of a long day, when our children say Thank You for making them a peanut butter sandwich or when they say I love you before running off to play with their friends. The love that you have for the child forces you to be better, and perhaps that’s why in her eye, you’ll always be the best. Twenty other mothers be damned.