I’m not usually one for making New Year resolutions. I used to be, until I realized I fall squarely under the category of those who abandon their resolutions by the end of January. Last week, however, I came across an old birthday card while cleaning out my file cabinet. Bright, bold colors and graphics reminiscent of the kind found in comic books adorn the front of the card. Gold foil letters say, “In a world of ordinary mortals, you are a wonder woman.”
The card was given to me by a close friend, and I remember feeling a surge of love for her and the sentiment the card implied. Who among us wouldn’t mind being envisioned as a cape-wearing Super Mama? But the card also induced a feeling of something unpleasant in the pit of my stomach. Something that felt a lot like hypocrisy.
The thing is, my friend knows I’m not a perfect mom. But she echoes what I often hear from others who see me raising four children, working full-time, and somehow keeping my sanity intact: how do you do it? The question always makes me squirm because – I’m going to let you in on a little secret – I am not a super mom. Oh, no, my friends. Take a closer look at that cape I wear around my neck. It may be gleaming and bright and intact from a distance. Up close? It has holes and patches and the occasional stain. The edges are a bit frayed.
Oh, the stories those imperfections would tell. They would include the time I missed three pediatrician appointments in a row…even though they were all noted on my calendar. And maybe the time I forgot to bring my daughter’s clarinet to one of her Christmas concerts. I watched her crestfallen face as the show went on without her. Certainly the time I inadvertently tagged one of my daughters’ Christmas presents incorrectly. In my sleep-deprived state, after having stayed up into the wee hours of the morning wrapping gifts, I blurted out, “Santa made a mistake! He left a note on the bed saying that present should go to Sophia.” The dead silence and confused looks painfully told me I should have kept my mouth shut. It’s no wonder my cape can often be found buried underneath a pile of rarely used linens.
But here’s the thing. I’ve become so good (or is it bad?) at focusing on how I fall short of super mom status, I often miss the things that make me worthy of that proverbial cape. Because, while I may miss doctor appointments and make up ridiculous excuses for Santa’s mistakes, there is good I bring into this little pocket of the world. I’ve taught my children the joy of donating toys for children in need. They have a sense of humility and appreciation for what they have, and recognize others are not so fortunate. And they know – at least I hope they know – that I love them unconditionally.
Slowly, slowly I’m coming to realize the capes we all wear as moms are just as they should be: gleaming and bright in some areas, patched and worn in others. It’s this juxtaposition of our experiences – the good and the bad – that make us the awesome and unique mothers we are. So, this year, I resolve to dust off the cape. I will put it on. And I will wear it proudly, patches and all.