Elusive Icing on the Cake

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You haven’t really lived as a mother until you have survived your first mommy-shaming birthday party. What does one look like, you may ask. Allow me to offer a few examples of what you might hear:

“Oh, yes, we only use bamboo and wool diapers.”

“Does your child attend the Jewish Montessori preschool?”

“No sugar or food dye for our son!”

Last year our family attended such an event, and I literally thought my ears might fall off from the weight of collective pride pouring into them. Every mother seemed focused on a particular agenda and, if you were nearby, you were going to hear about it.

I think this is part of the bigger lie that our culture projects onto mothers: you not only have to have it together ALL the time, but you also have to make sure everyone else knows you do.

Needless to say, I have never run from a party faster than I did that day.

This past weekend, I helped host a baby shower, and I couldn’t help but ponder how little I knew about motherhood before my first child was born. And yet, I was much more confident in those early days.

In academics, it’s no secret that we are all pursuing knowledge, and it’s generally agreed that the more you know, the better you are at teaching young minds.

In motherhood, however, the opposite seems to be true. The longer you are a mother, the less you feel prepared for any given moment.

Recently, my son reminded me of this truth when, before my very eyes, he accidentally tumbled into a swimming pool at a friend’s birthday party. Despite all of the precautions we had taken and the endless warnings we had offered our son, the unthinkable happened. As I saw his motionless body – just out of reach – sink, my mind reflected on all the moments I have felt equally powerless over the first three years of my motherhood journey.

Miraculously, another mother in the pool was able to save my son before he swallowed any water. And, from the comfort of an oversized beach towel in my arms, a special child excitedly shared his adventure – over, and over, and over again.

In that moment, uncertainty gave life to experience.

Some days we will be tempted to tell the world about our mothering, and others will leave us wanting to hide behind an obnoxiously large diaper bag. I would argue that the sweet spot of vulnerability is somewhere in between.

And, every so often, you will see that little boy – the one whose mother espoused a gluten- and flavor-free existence – devouring a piece of cake smothered with cheap red icing, and you will discover the truth your heart knew all along: the perfect mother doesn’t exist.

*Follow Lauren on Facebook and Twitter.

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130 thoughts on “Elusive Icing on the Cake

  1. You nailed this one, thank you. My mother took away all my ‘how to be the perfect mother’ books after I gave birth and told me to use my instincts (which panicked me no end as I wasn’t sure I had any instincts). But it was the perfect advice.

    Liked by 10 people

  2. nobody perfect exists but the more we try and have, or get experience the more we learn and get close to our goal of what we think is perfection.. that’s because perfection can be different for different people, so each different person have separate roads they choose to walk..perfection is an objective matter, two people can be of the same faith but interpret it slightly different, or want the same thing but want it more or less than the other, etc.

    Liked by 8 people

  3. Thanks for this post. I was listening to a #USQSalon video this morning and he asked us to think about a group we don’t listen very often. The surprising one that popped into my mind was mothers. My sister has recently become a mother for the second time, and as a childless woman I stand on the sidelines watching again the immense workload, and internal and external pressures that can arrive along with your baby. I’m going to try listening to mothers’ stories more often.

    Liked by 10 people

  4. Oh, this is just lovely! In my experience, most people feel inadequate at most things they do but I think mothering just exacerbates all those feelings of self-doubt and insecurity. You’ve summed that up nicely, thanks!

    Liked by 11 people

      1. Lauren,

        I agree. I named them myself and in prayer and fasting, counseling and much work. I am growing closer than ever to my child as she grows into the lovely you women I am proud of. I have peace knowing that God is in control. He hears every mother’s prayer and heartbeat. We all want what is best for our children. Peace, success, love, Joy, Salvation. We counseled a lady last night who had a son who is on drugs and has the mind of a 12 year old. She was overwhelmed, tired, feeling inadequate and defeated. Well, it all boils down to, Let God be God. When we are facing defeat, if we give it all to Him, He will turn it around if yet you believe, pray, fast. I have seen miracles done! I know it can happen. God is our perfect Father, he wants us to be healthy and happy. Let His goodness guide you to be a great mother! He will bless that relationship for His Glory.

        Liked by 6 people

  5. However imperfect, however vulnerable, a mother has a unique and honored place. Mothers provide shade against any scorching – physical, mental or emotional (from a short but dense Punjabi saying: mawaan, thandiyaan chawaan = mothers – cool and shady!). So bear up, mum, and give thanks that you son was in a mother’s shade in the pool and is now under yours where he will always be. Celebrate!

    Liked by 8 people

  6. From the moment I fell pregnant with my first child, it seemed the whole world became an expert on what was before me, glad to offer opinions and advise, oblivious if I wanted to receive such words. Now I simply tell my kids I’m a hopeless mum, they admit to being the spawn of satan, then we just get on with our day (but champagne helps!)

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Very well put! The strive for perfection is something I strive for, while realizing it is unattainable. I really only care that my daughter is healthy and happy, yet sometimes I DO want to hide behind a diaper bag during mommy talks at birthday parties and playgrounds!

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I am not a mother yet, but I know personally my mother dealt with this kind of stuff all the time. Mom perfection just can’t be a thing, we should get rid of the very idea because perfectionism in general is just not possible so why should we expect mothers to always have it together.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Very well written and touching article!! A perfect mother??Gosh, is that even possible?? We try to do our best but often best is not enough but to that I say – So what?? No mother tries to harm her child intentionally. But we are human after all and make mistakes!! We are humiliated, hurt, shouted at by the kids but hey, that’s part of motherhood! When that happens, don’t forget to count the umpteen times your kid wrote those my mummy best drawings, ran to you for comfort from bullies, confided you their supersecrets sure in their hearts that you would keep it a secret… the list is endless. No mother is perfect but doing your best is enough!!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. ‘The perfect mother ‘ concept is expecting too much from a human being. Similarly, the mothers and fathers should bear in mind that ‘ the perfect child’ concept is not worth pursuing. You have written about an important concept.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. marshasassycritic

    Parenthood is so hard! Nobody really has it all together, they just want it to appear that way. Some more than others. I’m sure you’re a great mom!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Pingback: Elusive Icing on the Cake — Unlearning | ellemahlanya

  13. Love this post! I felt a little unsure with my first but just knew I could it. I was born for this. After 32 years and 3 more kids, I feel like I know so little. Being there as a parent of adult children, I am not so sure about the advice anymore. I just know things will be okay, lol. I have my first grandchild and all I want to do with her is rock her, tell her about our Almighty Creator, listen and talk with her as she grows and tell her everything is in His hands.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. This is so true!
    I was a baby myself with my older son and didn’t even begin to know what could happen to him on my watch.
    Now, with them grown, I have every possible danger catalogued in my head!
    More support, less judgement is what we all need. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  15. samaesa

    I have a neighbor I avoid like the plague she is a bundle of partihood joy everytime we talk. I feel completely inadequate even though this isn’t my first rodeo and my first child while maybe an anomaly excels and I’m definitely more free spirited in my parenting approach. Maybe not free range but I like sugar, joy and kool-aid with a healthy dose of broccoli.
    I’m happy your new experience ended with joy and relief. I enjoyed this thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for sharing. I think most mothers relatively new to the game have at least one person who fits this role in their lives 😉 Being openminded is essential to all stages of life, and I am glad you are confident in your journey. I think motherhood is best when it doesn’t fit nearly into any category 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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