Monday, May 13, 2013

Imperfection is Perfect for Me

 If you happen to be lucky enough to know my mom, you'll know that she's not your typical "perfect mom." And, unfortunately, she can be hard on herself, so I know that she feels far from a perfect mom. She definitely did not meet me at the front door each day after school with a soft smile and a platter of homemade cookies. Here's the honest picture. Sometimes she let some curse words slip in moments of frustration. Sometimes she lost her temper with us. She worked full-time and tossed together hundreds of 30-minute meals that were delicious, but definitely didn't look like they came from Pinterest. Family prayer and scripture study would fall by the wayside for months, sometimes for years. I don't think that, as a mom of young kids, she ever felt like Mother of the Year.

But somehow, out of all that "imperfection," she was the perfect mom for me. I don't feel pressure to be a stereotypically perfect mom because I don't have a stereotypically perfect mom - yet my mom is the most awesome mother I have ever had the honor to know.

My mom taught me that sometimes you need to be tough, and sometimes you can coddle. While my parents were definitely strict, she knew just when to break the rules. One of my best memories is from when I was little. Sometimes at night, she and my dad would have their friends over, and I remember complaining to her that I couldn't sleep because of their loud laughing and the smell of delicious popcorn. After that, she would occasionally leave the party, and sneak back to my room with a little bowl of popcorn or ice cream, knowing it made the cruel injustice of being sent to bed just a little bit easier.

Growing up, she also made me feel valued, like my voice mattered. I remember once suggesting a way to change the way we did family chores, and instead of discounting the idea, she tried it, and we did them that way for months. That was bigger than Saturday chores - that was showing me that my opinions mattered too, that she was confident in my ability to come up with an idea that worked. To this day, I carry that confidence and voice with me, because she taught me that it mattered.

My mom supports me 100%. Well, 99%. One time when I told her I was cutting bangs, she asked, "Um, honey? Do you.... not remember middle school?" So, you know, sometimes she has to voice her true feelings, but the support is there where it really matters. Three years ago I told her that I was packing up all (read: every. single. one) of her grandbabies and moving them hundreds of miles away. Her public support to me and for me did not waver, and for that I will always be grateful, because it was something we had to do, and it was pretty scary all by itself. Never once did she ask, "How could you do this to me?" or, "How am I supposed to live without my grandbabies?" Instead she swallowed her own sadness, helped me pack boxes, bought me a new shirt for my going-away party, and drove us to the airport. That right there is strength.

Because of that move, my mom has taught me that love can overpower distance. My youngest was only a baby when we moved, but to hear her talk about her "Jamma," you'd think she lived just around the corner. My mom listens to every detail about my kids, and they notice. She knows when they have a loose tooth, when they've been on a field trip, when they're getting interested in a new sport or hobby... all the little things. But to my kids, they're not little, and it makes them feel so close to my mom that she really knows them even though she's far away. She makes time to call and Skype all the time, and whenever the kids see her, it's like they haven't been separated at all. And it's the same way for me. My mom is one of my very best friends. I can tell her anything and everything, and she "gets" me in a way that very few people do.

So I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, because of my mom, that you can do things your own way, with your own style, and still be a rock star mom who is adored by her kids and grandkids. And that right there is a pretty big deal, because really, when it comes down to it, none of us are perfect moms. She has not made her growth as a person and as a mother look simple, and it's not simple. I have seen my mom struggle to be a better person and a better parent, and I have learned from that. Her imperfection is perfect for me, and hopefully my imperfect rendition of motherhood will be perfect for my kids.

I love you, mom.

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Lauren Lanker said... actually had me tearing up there at the end, Katie. What a touching tribute to your Mom. And as someone who struggles with perfectionism, this cut to the core. Thank you for articulating your admiration for you Mom here for us read. What a writer you are!

The Thinking Closet

Brianne said...

I was just looking for your meal planning post and read this again. You are an amazing writer and painted a perfect portrait of one of the best moms and grandmas in the land. :)