Over the last 20 years, I’ve been all sorts of moms. I’ve been a new mom and a not-so-new mom. I’ve been a room mom, a team mom, a scout mom, a snack mom, and a PTA mom. A soccer mom, a hockey mom, a softball mom, and a cheer mom. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom and a working mom. A cool mom and a strict mom. A fun mom, a worried mom, and a tired mom.
I’d love to say, at the end of the day, I’ve been the Fabulous Mom. Unfortunately, I just don’t fit the bill.
Fabulous Mom Dos and Don’ts
For one thing, Fabulous Mom is always on time. She’s first to a birthday party, swim practice, and violin lessons. I, on the other hand, feel pretty good if my kids get to dance class or a scout meeting before it’s over. Fabulous Mom has never left a child standing at the ball field with a coach looking at his watch and calling her cell. My kids’ coaches have me on speed dial. Fabulous Mom is punctual for dentist appointments and at least ten minutes early to parent-teacher conferences. I give myself points for being so aware of my schedule that I actually check the calendar and show up on the right day.
Fabulous Mom never forgets things. Field trip permission slips and picture day order forms? She’s on it. My kids, however, have become somewhat comfortable with waiting until the last minute for ink cartridges that need replacing or poster boards that need decorating. Fabulous Mom remembers to bake, frost, and send in the personalized heart-shaped cookies well before the Valentine’s Day party. I pat myself on the back for buying heart candies before they go on clearance February 15. Fabulous Mom has no idea what it feels like to turn the car around after she leaves the house. Making U-turns to go back for somebody’s shoes is a built-in part of my day.
Fabulous Mom scores high in homemaking as well. Her house is consistently tidy, her fridge perpetually cleared; neighbors drop by only to find clean floors and emptied trashcans. My neighbors are welcome too—they just have to share the couch with last weekend’s movie night popcorn and a few piles of unfolded laundry. And yes, it’s true: Fabulous Mom whips up tasty, fully organic meals even when Daddy’s out of town, but I’m pretty proud of my children’s sense of appreciation for microwavable mac and cheese. Ah, the wonder of technology.
As far as decision-making goes, Fabulous Mom does it right every time. For whatever reason, she doesn’t overreact when her kids break something, lose something, or crash into something. I can remain calm, listen diligently, and dole out consequences fairly, lovingly, consistently too—I just need a bit more, uh, let’s call it processing time. Maybe I don’t solve problems as quickly as Fabulous Mom, but there isn’t a friend/sibling/homework assignment/chore/grade/relationship dilemma I can’t tackle, guess at, or muddle through. I, like Fabulous Mom, would never dream of yelling while disciplining my children. I’m just a tad more in touch with my “outside voice,” that’s all.
Lastly, Fabulous Mom is a spiritual giant. She is mature in her faith and doesn’t waiver in unbelief while facing the trials of life. But I can answer my kids’ tough questions too.
“Why is the sky blue?”
“What happened to the dinosaurs?”
“Why did our dog run away?”
“God did it,” satisfies pretty much every one of the deep mysteries of life.
Most impressive of all, Fabulous Mom doesn’t worry. She skips through life, continuously handing her children over to the Lord. But how boring is that? Gray hair and worry lines add just the right amount of spice to life, don’t you think?
Happy to Be Un-Fabulous
Needless to say, I’m not Fabulous Mom, and I never will be. But I am a mom who never stops trying. Never stops loving. Never stops praying. And never stops wanting the best for the people that matter most to me in this entire world.
No matter what kind of day I’ve had as a mom and whatever kind of mom I’ve been, whatever struggles I’ve faced or mistakes I’ve made, as surely as the earth continues to spin, I will continue to try and love and pray and want the best for my kids. Because that’s what a mom does.
But if we’re really going to make this work—if we un-fabulous moms are going to get anywhere in this fast-paced, scary, intimidating world—we need to come to some sort of an agreement. So here’s what I propose: The next time you think you see a Fabulous Mom, take a deep breath and remind yourself that she isn’t real. All you see may scream “fabulous,” but trust me, she’s not. You may not know exactly what issues, problems, anxieties, doubts, or fears she’s dealing with, but she is.
And here’s another thing, the next time you are mistaken for a Fabulous Mom (by some small miracle it happens to all of us once in a great while), fess up immediately. Maybe you’re in the middle of a great hair day or you have on an outfit that actually matches, and someone out there is going to mistake you for that unattainable, have-it-all-together, pretty-much-perfect Fabulous Mom. So let’s agree to come clean. We don’t, nor will we ever, have it all together. How refreshing! How amazing to let go of those unrealistic ideas about motherhood and stop comparing. How beautiful to love and support one another as fellow un-fabulous moms, just trying our best, praising God for grace, and trying again tomorrow.
Come to think of it, that’s the only kind of mom I want to be.
Kathryn O’Brien is a mother of three, wife of 23 years, and author of several children’s books. She regularly blogs about issues that touch moms’ hearts on her website KathOBrien.com.