I used to be an amazing mother. Really. That is, until I gave birth to my second child.
If you are a parent, I am guessing that your story is similar. But perhaps your number isn’t two?
This week, a story of a Cincinnati gorilla vs. a negligent mother topped the headlines, and I think it further perpetuates the notion that mothers, and parents in general, should be perfect. We shouldn’t make mistakes. And we certainly shouldn’t allow our children the opportunity to make mistakes.
Quite simply, I think the world has it all wrong.
Around our house, the cup is half-full – literally. My son is learning how to drink from an open cup, and the milk never seems to stay where it should. Seriously, I can watch my son for ten solid minutes, but if I look away for five seconds, I hear eerily familiar words: “Mommy, it’ll dry!”
The damage, of course, is always minor, but the point is that I cannot expect a meal without spills from a toddler. I just can’t.
And yet, I am left to wonder what would happen if our society afforded parents, especially mothers, that same kind of forgiveness when we fall short of our impossible goals.
“It’s okay. We know that you are learning.”
“I won’t judge you because I make mistakes, too.”
Or dare I say, “Here, let me help.”
These are the words that speak life to a parent on the verge of a nervous breakdown. And, yes, that includes nearly every mother I know.
My guess is that there would be more time for empathy and less time for throwing stones stones.
My children show me daily that you can’t carry the volume of motherhood without at least a little spill. Sometimes this imperfection looks like an entire room full of laundry and other times it looks like a three-inch scrape on the side of a nearby luxury car because you don’t have enough eyes or arms to monitor your toddler at all times.
The truth is, if we have children, we are stretched thin. If our number isn’t zero, we are pushing it. And the line we walk grows more narrow with each child we have.
So what then can be learned from a Cincinnati zoo?
We are mothers. We make errors. And we need help – even when we are too stubborn or tired to ask.