A while back I was sitting around talking to some other women, when one of them referred to me as “Super Mom over there.” I don’t remember what the context was, but I know that she sometimes reads the blog and probably meant it as a compliment. Maybe she had read about our many hikes or seen pictures of my kids’ happy, muddy faces.
But it got me thinking about the image that I project versus the reality that I live in. Although I don’t embellish our lives, I realize that what I tend to share here on the blog are the highlights of my parenting experience, the good times, the stuff I’m good at and the things that I think I get right (at least most of the time).
When I share a photo of us happily eating s’mores in front of a campfire, you don’t know that the Big Naturalist just threw a hunger-induced tantrum because it took me 45 minutes to get the fire started and the bread on a stick that we tried to make refused to bake properly. Or that the Little Naturalist dropped our last hot dog in the fire, or that I yelled at the real dog as she got into the butter and ate most of it before I caught her (true story).
I usually like to keep it positive and inspirational.
But in reality, becoming a parent is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Actually, let me rephrase that because becoming a parent was the easy part. Being a parent, the actual everyday act of parenting, is the hard part. I find the parenting experience to be as exhausting as it is exhilarating. It’s pancake picnics and sibling bickering, cloud spotting and testing boundaries, ups and downs, sometimes all at once.
So in the interest of keeping it real, and in honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I’d share some things that typically don’t make it onto the blog.
OK, confession time:
My kids don’t always want to play outside.
My big passion is connecting children with nature. So when I ask my kids if they want to come help me in the garden, build a fort, or do just about anything imaginable outside, and they scream bloody murder, proclaiming that they’d rather watch a Barbie movie, it kind of makes me feel like a failure. This happens more often in the winter than in the summer, but either way it really gets to me and is not something that I typically like to share.
I don’t like doing crafts.
I’ll examine insects or go on a hike with my kids any day. But the thought of creating butterflies out of toilet paper rolls or making snacks shaped like dolphins and caterpillars makes me simultaneously cringe and crave a really deep, long nap. To all the “Pinterest moms” out there: My hat goes off to you. Thanks for bringing such cute and creative foods and games to the class parties, so that I don’t have to.
I sometimes send my kids outside to play for selfish reasons.
Outdoor play is great for kids for many reasons. It’s also essential to this mom’s sanity. When my kids are outside I pretty much let them be as wild and loud as they want, as long as they’re not hurting each other or disturbing anybody else. But I don’t deal well with noise and rambunctious behavior inside the house. Outdoor play sometimes works as this little buffer for me, so that I can compose myself after a particularly rough parenting patch or just fold laundry or finish cooking dinner without interruptions.
I can’t be bothered making sure the kids clean up their rooms.
I’m pretty much a Type A person who likes to keep our house as neat and tidy as it can possibly get with two kids and a perpetually shedding dog. Clutter gives me the hives. But the girls’ rooms often look like a rainbow-colored dinosaur threw up all over the floor and walls and I often lack the energy and willpower to make them pick it up. That’s part of the reason why you rarely see pictures from the girls’ bedrooms on this blog – and don’t expect that to change any time soon.
I sometimes use the “electronic babysitter.”
On the blog I advocate for switching “screen time” for “green time,” and truthfully my kids don’t watch much TV at home. But I’m also a writer who works from home, sometimes with pretty tight deadlines. If the kids’ real babysitter is gone I sometimes use the electronic version, i.e. let them watch a movie, just so that I can finish a project. This is not my proudest parenting practice, but hey, at least the kids don’t mind it.
I could make a much longer list, but I’m trying to go a little easy on myself. I can honestly say that I do strive to be a better mom every day. I’ll never be a Super Mom, but that’s OK. I’m a good enough mom. And so are you.
Now I’d like to hear about your “dirty secrets!” Let’s chat in the comments.