Mom of the Year

First, I am not. Let's get that out of the way. Second, my mind sure wishes that it was. My achievement-seeking, competitive mind wants to be the mom who works 40 hours a week, commutes an hour each day, yet comes home energized to create a home-cooked, balanced meal, while having creative play time with my daughter in a clean and tidy environment, and being attentive to my loving husband. Sure, I can throw in some hand-made "thank you" cards and DIY my laundry detergent. All the while looking healthy, put-together and on-time, with a well-behaved, well-groomed child. And doing it all with ease, of course. 

I have to laugh a little reading this in black-and-white. First, because these thoughts really DO show up for me and, second, because it seems so silly how much I get tangled up in those thoughts. And yet, because I am human, it happens. 

Like the time when my daughter was turning two and I also happened to be 33 weeks pregnant with our second daughter. So my heart is adjusting to the world of an increasingly independent toddler, all while preparing to welcome a brand new being into this lifetime. And I am totally on top of it. To celebrate her birthday, my almost-two-year-old wants pumpkin cupcakes... cue the mom-of-the-year-mind: I will bake the most moist pumpkin cupcakes from scratch (subbing apple sauce for brown sugar so they are healthier... people do that right?) and whip up some homemade coconut cream cheese frosting, in honor of a good friend of mine. Thoughtful, personal, totally mom-of-the-year material. 

“Oh, on top of it you say?”, teases the universe. A week before her birthday celebration, the whole family gets sidelined by the flu. For four days, I traded off household and child raising responsibilities with my husband, while we took turns attempting to recover in bed. We were barely getting by. Three days in, I tearfully acquiesce. I am not going to make the cupcakes. I lament to my husband, “I guess I am no mom-of-the-year”, and without skipping a beat he sweetly responds, “You are mom of the year... in other ways.”

Now this is not something I had considered. How do I define myself as being a mom? What do I value? What do I already do really well? I got so caught up in this image of what I thought a mom should be that I lost sight of the mom I really wanted to be and maybe, just maybe, I already was. 

So what do I do well as a mom? What do I offer my daughter? What does she really need? 

She needs me to be there. Really be. Present, heartfelt and connected to her in the moment. With love. 

That's it. 

Lest I forget, she is two. She will not remember the cupcakes, but she will have, at minimum, a visceral memory of my eyes looking into hers, my smile, our connection. So for the next few days leading up to her birthday I made my intention of heartfelt presence her present. I affirmed each morning “today, at least one time, I will really look my daughter in the eyes.” I also let go of all of the thoughts about what I "should" be doing, which get in the way of really showing up for her. We did not have pumpkin cupcakes with coconut cream cheese frosting for that birthday. But my daughter got all she really wanted. It was me the whole time. 

I am always going to be her mom of any given year. Its up to me to decide again and again how I want to show up for it.