My 8 year old son wrote the most wonderful poem for Mother's Day for me and it was titled "She Believes in Me'. I am not sure if I ever felt more accomplished than reading that. My other son wrote a poem that basically said that for all that he needs... Mommy delivers.
You try as a parent to do many things, teach them right from wrong, to be kind to others, to place importance on things like education, art, music, books, their friendships, travel, learning in all sorts of ways instead of just things that they "get". You spend a lot of time wondering which of this moments of being a parent will come back to you as a reproach, a moment when you and they both realize you tried to do it right but maybe it was the end of a long day and you had less patience, a meeting that you needed to be at and not the school trip (regardless of how many you make it will be the one you miss that you dwell upon), or maybe it was that terrible moment when you were not the mother you wanted to be but the mother you are. You know her, I know her. I live as her. I do not always make the brownies for the class birthday but buy them. I make home made meals but give in to chicken nugget cries from the boys. The mother who does not sew or knit or look perfect every moment of every day. It is that moment when you realize you cannot have it all - that your work is important to you and then you feel guilty - that your family is even more important and you feel guilty. There are the moments when you just do not want to play one more round of War because you know there is laundry to be done, the moment when your house is not House and Garden perfect, or you forgo fixing something in the house because your funds have gone to taking the kids on a vacation this year and what the heck you can squeeze another year in the kitchen with the ugly countertop.
I am that mother - I try so hard to be the mother who delivers for her kids. I play every day with them, I go to the games (even on days when I hope no one sees me looking at my phone cause baseball is sooo dull). I take them on vacations and to museums and have fun with them. My whole life revolves around kid appropriate activities and making sure my kids know I love them. Yet I am not perfect nor do I think I will ever be. There are books that will tell me how French women do it better, and of course look better doing it while chomping on a macaroon, or how I need to let them be more independent (oh yeah cause they don't have a lifetime of doing chores all the time). I plan parties for them from the theme, to the goody bag, and am grateful for the friendships I have with other Moms who pass along helpful hints, or have amazing websites of their own for my supplies, or just remind me that I am trying my best.
Then there is Mother's Day and my kids give me the poems and I realize that I may not be perfect but I am doing it well. My boys are empathetic, kind, smart, loving and confident. They have the belief that with me behind them, and their Dad too, there is nothing they cannot try. Nothing scares them - they can try and even if they do not excel they feel they succeed in learning something. I do not need to be the beautiful French mother (I am sure there are plenty like me, eyeliner askew, serving nuggets de poulet and wondering if she is doing it right) or any other nationality. I am me and somehow I am doing ok. We get no formal training in this role, use our own mothers are role models to follow or not depending on the experience, and we are thrust into it with this amazing open heart and love unlike we have ever even imagined. For me the success in my role lies in making my sons into boys who know they are worth a lot, that they are amazing and will do great things in whatever they choose to do. It means making them understand that their humbleness lies in their living to their potential not showing off. I look at my sons and their friends and I have great hope for the future because they are really bright, caring children who seem to share a belief that they will go on to make a difference in so many different ways. They talk in terms of people and not races, in terms of love and parents not gender (marriage equality appears to be no-brainer for them), they see violence as something to be ashamed of and yet they are kids who play, and play rough, but know their limits. I have great hope for their future and like the poem said I believe in them. I will continue my education on the job as a mother ....and what a great ride it is to be so unlike the magazines.