There have been so many times in the last couple of years when I’ve felt like a less than stellar mom. Times when Isla stayed up all night crying, and I ended up crying with her. Times when Isla stayed up all day crying, and I gingerly laid her in her crib and went to the other side of the house for a few minutes, drawing deep breaths, waiting until my frustration passed before I went back in.
The dozens of times when Isla just would not cooperate, would not listen, would dig in her heels and do the exact opposite of whatever I asked. The days when every. single. thing. was a battle. Times when Isla threw tantrums in stores, and I had to carry her out kicking and screaming while dozens of people looked on. Judging. Times when Isla threw food in restaurants, just to see what would happen, and the old lady at the table next to me glared at me. Times when I lost my temper and yelled and acted the same way she was acting and later shame-faced had to apologize to Isla for being so rotten myself. Times when I wanted to get in my car and leave and not come back until after Isla had gone to bed.
Times when I wondered, what the hell made me think I’d be a good mother?
There are times, though, when I feel like a pretty fantastic mom. When my daughter sleeps peacefully through the night and plays happily all day. When she smiles and laughs and gives hugs and kisses. When my daughter sits pleasantly through a meal out of the house and says please and thank you in public, winning impressed grins from strangers. When she shares her toys and shows surprising flashes of empathy for other people and animals. When she says “I’m sorry” and gives a hug when she knows she’s done something wrong, completely unprompted. When I’ve responded patiently and calmly all day to defiance and a string of tantrums. When she cuddles up in my lap at the end of a rough day, obviously confident in my love for her and in her security.
There are some days when I feel like the worst mom in the world. There are more days, though, when I feel like a mom who’s done a good job, at least so far, raising a (mostly) polite, sweet, genuine kid, full of energy and curiosity and giggles. The good days give me confidence and help remind me on the bad days that we can always apologize, hit the reset button, and start over.
I’m not a perfect mom. I have my bad days. But I must be doing something right to have a daughter who is so wonderful.