Last week Shelby went to her first dance. Her middle school hosted a masquerade dance for the sixth graders and she was super excited to go to her very first dance, ever. It was pretty much all she talked about in the days leading up to the dance.
But (insert sad music), I wasn't there to help her pick out a dress; curl her hair; take pictures; or see her off. I was on a business trip and was pretty heartbroken. I felt like a failure as a mother. When I said this out loud to Mike he said, "Why?" He went on to explain that Shelby was happily preparing for the dance and with his help and the help of our nanny, she'd be at the dance with a "perfect" dress and hair. It was all being taken care of and there was no reason
I was feeling horrible because I was missing a milestone moment in child's life. I was feeling horrible because people kept asking me, "Isn't it hard to miss things like that?" or "How do you do it?" I was feeling horrible because I was measuring myself as a mother by some impossible standard. I was measuring myself as a mother by other mothers. Never once did Shelby say, "I wish you were here" or "You're failing me as a mother by not being here." She asked me to help her pick out a dress and we worked together via FaceTime to make that happen. She asked me to borrow a pair of shoes. She asked me where my curling iron was so our nanny could help her with her hair.
On the night of the dance, Shelby sent me photos of herself just before she left for the dance. And as soon as the dance was over, she and Mike called me to tell me all about it. I may not have been there physically, but I was there in spirit. There was no judgement on Shelby's part, she was just happy to tell me how awesome the night was. Hearing the joy in her voice was a reminder that I'm doing okay as a mother. She's happy, secure and very loved. Those are the things that matter. And those are the very things I do well.
Every single parent is different and we need to stop measuring ourselves by what everyone else is doing. You'll never feel good about yourself if you're using someone else's yard stick to measure yourself. I know I'm not a perfect parent, but I'm doing okay. And when I make a point of putting on blinders and just worrying about myself, I feel much better about my effort.
S0 cut yourself some slack mama, you're doing just fine.