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The Imperfectly Perfect Mother

The Imperfectly Perfect Mother

Mothers, like shoes, come in many shapes and sizes. I’ve been blessed with an amazing mom who has taught me so much over the years. I’ve also been blessed with a wonderful family made up of strong women who were also like mothers to me growing up. And in my later years, I’ve had women who have mentored me, supported me and loved me along the way – all teaching me so many lessons. We all have our second moms, our mentors, those we look to for guidance and support. The fact is, children can never have too much love (Something I have to remind myself when I think about my ex-friend, who is now step-mom to my son).

Over the past fourteen years, my Mother’s Days have also been filled with gratefulness – that I could experience being a mother myself – one of the most truly gratifying accomplishments in my life. I can’t believe my son, Brandon, will be starting high school next year.
Mother’s Day has become even more special the past several years with our new blended family. I married a wonderful and amazing man two years ago. He also happens to be a widower with two awesome kids, Jack (8) and Adelaide (11). Jack and Adelaide lost their mom, Sarah, when they were just three and five. This past few years of combining houses and lives has been an amazing one, but it has not gone without struggles at times. The kids have adjusted surprisingly well. I think Jason and I have adjusted as well. Our house is filled with lots of laughs and most importantly, lots of love.
I will never try to replace Sarah but rather honor and respect her memory and ensure that the kids always remember her – the mom she was. I think back to what I would have wanted all those years ago when I was diagnosed with my own cancer. Brandon was just turning two at the time, and I thought about the “What if’s.” My biggest fear was that he wouldn’t remember me. I wanted him to remember.
When Jason and I first started dating (albeit secretly until we were for sure we had “something”), I shared with him that although I couldn’t walk in his shoes, because of my own experience with cancer and losing friends along the way, I could at least understand, and in a weird way, from the start, felt a certain connection to Sarah.
As Jason and I are both incredibly lucky to have found each other and have a “second chance,” one that many never get. Sarah’s family has opened their arms and hearts to Brandon and I like we are their family – and for that, I am forever grateful.
I find myself at times asking “WWSD” (What Would Sarah Do?) And I want the kids to know, truly know, their mom. But I am also here, and I want them to know me as well and know how much I love them.
One of Sarah’s best friends shared with me early on something that I will never forget and try to live up to. But quite honestly, I am just now comfortable saying and doing it:

“I’m happy that you are committed to honoring and preserving her memory for them, but of course, you have to live in the light of your own life and not in the shadow of someone else’s. You sound like a strong and confident woman who has already faced many challenges, so I hope that you don’t neglect to let your own presence shine forth in their lives.”
So I will continue to ensure that they know their mom, but also allow my own presence to shine forth in their lives.  Also, I’m not going to lie. As with any parent, there are struggles in this so-called parenting thing, and none of it comes with instructions. With Adelaide in particular, and her 11-going-on-16 attitude at times, and being stubborn like her Dad :), I truly believe God is testing my patience. But in the end, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
Some days, I have my own “survivor guilt.” And when my patience runs thin, I think about how Sarah and countless other mothers who would give anything to be here to raise their own children. So the next time you are tired, feel like you are losing your mind serving as the taxi, referee, cook and maid and really just want to run in the closet and cry, or better yet, go take a big swig of vodka, take a deep breath and appreciate the fact that you are here to raise your children. Some days, I feel like I’m on the hamster wheel and am never getting off, on the verge of “losing it,” but then I look at my kids and realize that ten years from now, I might wish I was still on that hamster wheel. Enjoy every moment – even the ones that raise your blood pressure.
The fact is that as moms, none of us are perfect. In fact, all of us are imperfect. We all just need to do the best we can and be happy with our imperfectly perfect selves! Sometimes we place unrealistic expectations on ourselves –thinking we have to be perfect. I see this all too often. Moms who are afraid to admit they have challenges, fears and moments of downright frustration. What we need to realize is that perfection doesn’t exist and it’s okay for our children to see us fail at times; that’s an important lesson.

Last summer while on vacation visiting friends, Brandon (then 13) looked at me, after I told the kids no to “Ole Time Photos,” and said, “Mom, did you ever know parenting would be so hard?” I might not have known how hard it would be, but it’s so worth it. We all just need to stop pretending to be perfect so that other moms don’t feel like they are somehow inadequate. Be true to yourself, to who you are and stop comparing yourself to others. Instead, focus on your strengths and celebrate those.
Motherhood: sometimes a thankless, stressful, confidence breaking, alcohol inducing job, but one that brings the most incredible gifts of patience, laughs and unconditional love. I am an imperfect mother, yep, not ashamed to admit that. I’m actually proud to admit it because in the end, I might be imperfect, but I love my kids with all of my heart – and that should be enough .

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