When I was a kid, my mom would sometimes (I don’t think I’m generalizing here – I’m pretty sure it happened more than once) ‘make me into my bed’. She would put the bottom sheet on the bed then I would lie there and she’d put the top sheet and blankets on me. There was something so neat and comforting about lying there while crisp, clean, laundry-fresh (sometimes warm) sheets and blankets fluttered down over me. I loved it. I still remember it as a fond memory.
As an adult I’ve come to realize that Mom made this “game” up because she hadn’t gotten to making up the beds that laundry day. As a kid the game was so special it never occurred to me that it only happened because Mom had “failed” to get her to-do list done. But I think that good mothering isn’t perfection. A good mother isn’t someone who always completes her to-do list on time. A good mother is someone who is focused on her children – on their needs, on their positive physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual growth, on teaching them how to fly and then giving them the space to do so.
During my childhood my mom had returned to work full-time so that her oldest two kids could attend a Christian high school (while still being an active preacher’s wife). I don’t remember the state of our house. I don’t know how clean or messy it was (I do remember that Saturday morning chores were always a requirement – and would have been even if Mom didn’t work – so the cleanliness/not-so-cleanliness was a burden we all shared; and that we learned the value of work and contributing to the family). I do know that everything my Mom did was for her husband and her kids. I know that she was committed to us in a way that went beyond how clean the house was, or how often the beds were made before bedtime.
I think my mom sometimes still feels guilty for not being the consummate housewife. But that’s not what was important about my upbringing. What was important for my upbringing was there; and any of her “short-comings” only enriched that. I have learned as much from the failures of my parents (both as parents and as people) as I have from their successes. I have known them as flawed and real people and that was as essential to my development as the food they put on the table.
Thanks Mom, I think you’ve been a “perfect” Mom.