As a mom, we want to do anything, and everything for our kids and family. From the day we know they will be coming into our lives the weight of responsibility weighs heavy on our hearts. We have carried this little person within our bodies, and/or waited a long time for them to join our family. They are beautiful, tiny and depending on us to stay alive. No one can care for them as well as well can. Whether it’s diaper changes, bottles or baths, no one – not even our mothers who managed to keep us alive – or the baby’s dad, can get it quite right.
And if it turns out that perfect little angel has special needs, or develops them during birth, an illness, or an injury, the stakes are even higher. Medical decisions, quite literally life and death decisions, are now in our hands. The hands of someone who is full of way too many emotions, and way too little sleep. The decisions that are made now matter a whole lot. Once this hurdle is jumped, there are decisions about therapies treatments and so on. When each decision needs to be made, all eyes turn to you.
And then there’s the paperwork. The mountains and mountains of insurance forms, evaluations, IEPs, and so on. The registration forms for school need to be filled out. And each one of these sheets of paper ask the same questions over, and over, and over again. The number of trees killed so that every doctor, school, therapist and so on can focus on what your child cannot do would have the Lorax shaking his fist in anger at you all.
We haven’t even started on the housework. Some of us have kids and spouses who can play video games like an expert, or use power tools with ease, but magically become confused on how to work the washer and dryer, or the dishwasher. Others of us have family members who want to help but don’t do it “right” so we either won’t take the time to teach them, or go behind them and redo everything so it’s done our way.
We drive our kids to endless play dates, sports, religion classes, activities and so on. We never miss a rehearsal or practice, and if our kids class, our church or anyone else for that matter needs help, we are the first in line to volunteer.
I’m going to let you in on a secret. There’s no award. No one’s going to come up to you and give you a medal for never missing a middle of the night wake up, or for having every towel perfectly folded. There isn’t a trophy for having your toddler potty trained by 2, never having the tiniest bit of sugar pass their lips, or being room mom for the 5th year in a row. And there is no blue ribbon for the perfect home.
If I could give you one piece of advice it would be this: if it isn’t absolutely required to keep your little person alive and well, or doesn’t bring you joy, let it go. Let dad take the 3 am feeding. I guarantee you the world will not stop spinning if the diaper is put on a little crooked or the baby clothes don’t match perfectly. If your mom, dad, friend, neighbor, or a stranger off the street even) wants to help you with laundry, dishes or anything really, let them. If your child wants to help fold towels and folds them completely wrong, put them away with a smile. If your teenager wants to help you, run the other way because clearly that have been replaced by aliens or want something big.
Another kid’s mom can be room mother this year. If you love to bake, bake those cookies. But if you don’t, buy the cookies for the church bake sale or kid’s fundraiser rather than making them from scratch at midnight the night before. It’s OK to say no to your kid when they beg for a ride to a friend’s house 5 minutes after you finally sit down, or when they want to add underwater basket weaving to their already jam packed schedule. I guarantee you the paperwork will still be there tomorrow, if you go to bed instead of filling them out right now
Once you realize that there is no award for being the perfect parent, you can loosen up the death grip on the steering wheel you’ve been holding onto with white knuckles for so long you can no longer feel your fingers, and enjoy your life. We should those parenting tasks that are truly required, and those that bring us joy, and let go of the rest. As long as we love our children, we already have the best award we could possibly get, their love. And in case you need the reminder: you are doing a fantastic job, and definitely deserve an award for everything you do for your family each and every day!