As we wrap up from summer vacation and dive deep into school-year pandemonium, I find myself overwhelmed and wondering, “Am I doing everything right?”. 

School registration and paperwork done? Check. Damn that’s a lot of paperwork!

Academic supplies purchased? Check. Quite sure I forgot something!

Backpacks and lunch boxes packed and ready?  Check. Hmmm, maybe kids can make their own lunches this year?

After-school activities arranged? Crap, late fees again!

Our house has become a machine of scheduled chaos and no one remembers to feed the dog.  Poor Boomer

But I’m grooming the kids, right? I’m making them into fully functioning members of society so they can become financially stable, move out and live their lives. That’s the goal, isn’t it? We want them to succeed. Or do we want them to be happy? It has become very apparent that, in this world, success and happiness aren’t the same. Yes, money makes the world go round and it would be nice if they didn’t end up in jail, but are we teaching them what really matters? Are we instilling in them courage, curiosity, connection, compassion, love and joy?

Are we letting them think for themselves and feel their pains?

Society has taught us to numb our pain and, as a Mom, my first response is often to do whatever it takes to end my child’s complaining. Let them play electronics. Let them have more sugar. Let them watch TV when they don’t want to go outside. Parenting is hard and single-parenting is heroic work. I’ve let the iPad babysit my kids on more than one occasion. Secretly, when they were young, wireless headsets in our minivan created space for “me time” as they watched movies and I drove aimlessly. I’ll be the first to admit that my kids are over-scheduled and under-played. Are you judging me? Truth is, I’m judging me and I have to live with me so that’s more damaging.

One day, years ago, a Mom confided in me that she fed her kids waffles for dinner when her husband was away. I smiled and bought Eggos.  Another Mom admitted she was dropping her kids off to daycare so she could have coffee and rest. She became my best friend.

The hilariously superficial movie, Bad Mom, while not award-winning, hi-lights a few key concepts. We are too hard on each other and, more importantly, we are too hard on ourselves.

This fall, as I unload the summer supplies and re-stock the schedule, I sit quietly and contemplate what it all means. Who are we serving with our perfectionism? More importantly, who are we damaging? Our children come into this world perfect, just the way they are. They speak their truth; they run and play; they jump and fall; they dance whenever they hear music and they sing, out of tune, even though they haven’t got a clue what the words are. We ought to too! It would release us!

When it comes to doing it “right”, you will notice that there are more questions than answers, more tasks than tree houses, more burdens than backyard banter and that’s okay. To each her own. That is the very point. You ARE doing it right. We, your fellow Mom’s, commend you for being the parent you are. Believe that you do the best you can and let yourself off the hook.  And, starting today, love yourself for it.

As I sink into living a more authentic life, I don’t plan to home-school (hats off to Mom’s that do – you are a crazy bunch!) and I won’t pull my kids from all after-school activities, but I DO plan to relax a little. I do hope to play more, laugh more, dance and sing more (watch out!) and I hope no one minds waffles for dinner tonight.

Take a deep breath and realize that your kids just need you to love them, unconditionally. Sit still, even if it means hiding in your mini-van, and acknowledge the good you have done and the contribution you make, every day. Find time to call a girlfriend and remind her that she is an amazing Mom. We all need a boost sometimes.

Most of all, release yourself and KNOW that everything is going to be okay. Late is better than never, done is better than perfect, perfect is the enemy of good and that’s why they have late fees anyway.