An Ode to the Moms I Will Never Be

Hi Orange Rhinos! Here is a piece I wrote last Mother’s Day that is now up on Huffington Post. I would love to say that I have made a lot of progress on this subject and that this year I don’t need to give myself the same gift I gave myself last Mother’s Day, but alas, I will be giving myself the gift again and that is okay. I am a work in progress and that is just fine by me (okay, not fine by me on every day but I am trying!) Happy Mother’s Day!!! 


It’s Mother’s Day this Sunday, and while my four boys will praise me for being the mom that I am, sadly, I know that deep down inside, I will be thinking about the mom that I am not. You see, I often feel inadequate as a mom and think of her: the other mom, the mom I “planned to be,” the mom I think I “should be,” the mom I never will be.

I want to be a mom who wakes up and has time to shower and make herself look not just presentable, but pretty. But I will never be that mom. I will most likely never look pulled together, with blown-dry hair and accessorized outfits — because while I wish to look that way, I don’t have the time or energy. I will always have my hair in a braid, a hole in my jeans, a two-seasons-ago shirt and a belt that is… well, more than two seasons old. And that is OK. Because my kids think I am pretty just the way I am.

I want to be a mom who puts aside her to-do list to get down and play on the floor with her boys. But I will never be that mom. I will most likely never roughhouse with them or play freeze tag as much as they like because I much prefer, and take great joy in, watching them play and have fun with each other. And that is OK. Because I will still hug them, kiss them and tell them how proud and happy I am to see them playing together.

I want to be a mom who knows how to make crazy LEGO buildings, how to chase after dragons, how to play Star Wars. But I will never be that mom. I will most likely never build a LEGO creation the way my husband does. I will never spontaneously chase after dragons with a laser or think to build a fort. And that is OK. Because I will make ice cream cones out of Play-Doh with my boys and chase after falling leaves and snowflakes with them.

I want to be a mom who feels like she knows how to be a mom to boys — who doesn’t think that if she had girls, she would know how to be a better mother because she would know how to play tea and dolls and all things “girlie.” But I will never be that mom. I will most likely never be a mom who truly feels like she knows how to be a mom to boys. And, even if I had girls, I don’t think I would feel like I knew how to be a mom to them either, because knowing how to “be a mom” is not just about knowing what kind of activities my kids like to do, it is about knowing what makes my kids happy, what makes them sad, how I can help them, how I can protect them. Knowing how to be a mom is a daily learning process and I’ll never be fully caught up. And that is OK. Because I have already mastered the most important lesson: how to love my boys.

I want to be a mom who plans fun outings ahead of time, who plans play dates… who plans, period. But I will never be that mom. I will most likely never plan ahead, because it overwhelms me and because, well, I am just not good at managing my time. And that is OK. Because I love to stay home and just talk with my kids and I love to ask them questions about their day, to answer their questions, to hear their side conversations.

I want to be a mom who cooks well-balanced meals that my pediatrician would approve of. Scratch that. I want to be a mom who cooks anything besides macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets. But I will never be that mom. I will probably never consistently cook healthy meals like my mom and my nana used to. And that is OK. Because someday, I will learn how to cook beyond the basics and until then, I’ll keep teaching my boys how to bake the “yummiest cookies ever,” remembering the key ingredients are always love and patience.

I want to be a mom who does cute arts and crafts projects more often and remembers to send them to the grandparents. I will never be that mom. I will most likely never do lots of arts and crafts projects that would make Martha Stewart proud, because I am too scatter-brained to remember to buy the art materials in the first place. And that is OK. Because when my kids bring their art projects home, I praise them and hang them proudly up on the kitchen wall.

I want to be a mom who reads books more, practices ABC’s more, sings more, dances more and laughs more. I will never be that mom. I will most likely never be able to do all the extras because there aren’t enough hours in the day. And that is OK. Because I will do my best and I will enjoy the moments when I do read, dance and laugh. And as long as my kids feel loved — and have learned what love is and how to love — it’s OK with me if they learn their ABC’s late.

And oh, oh how I want to be a mom who doesn’t feel inadequate. Who doesn’t look at her friends (and strangers) and say: Wow, they are great moms, why aren’t I like them? But instead looks at them and says: Wow, they are great moms and so am I.

So am I.

I am a good mom.

I might never be the mom I dream of being, but right now, I can be the mom that I am, the mom that my boys know and love. I might not be a lot of things I wish to be, but I still am a lot of good things. I didn’t cook a perfectly-balanced dinner tonight, but I did manage to not yell at my kids today and I am going to keep trying not to. I didn’t take my kids to the park yesterday, but I did talk with them while on a spontaneous family walk this morning.

You see, I find it so easy — too easy — to look in the mirror and see all the reasons why I am not a good enough mom, why I am not living up to my ridiculous ideal of what a mother should be. This Mother’s Day, as a gift to myself, I am going to look in the mirror and tell myself that I am a good enough mom; that I might not be the mom that I envision, but that I am still a good enough mom. And I hope you do the same.

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14 thoughts on “An Ode to the Moms I Will Never Be

  1. I needed this and will be taking the challenge. I just wish I could have read this 13 yrs ago, but there is still time.

  2. So I happen to be a teacher, seeing over 450 students a week. I am also the mother of two, 7 & 4. People say teachers have it so easy, summers and all holidays off, your schedule is the same as your kids. While that may be very nice, it also means that every second you aren’t teaching other kids, you are with your own and, after dealing with kids ALL DAY LONG and having to hold it together, coming home to my own two can be incredibly stressful. I see now why mothers used to stay at home.

  3. Thank you so much for your website and blog. I am a mother of a beautiful 2 year old and am pregnant with our second due in July. I am a nurse and I work 2 to 3 12 hours shifts each week. I am always tired. I feel guilty for not having the energy to do everything with my daughter right now. I made the mistake of looking on Pinterest for decoration ideas for her 2 year old Birthday. I felt defeated right away even though she was having a fun Mickey Mouse Birthday Party in our backyard. It is so, so easy to compare ourselves to others. I will not look on Pinterest anymore. I will not allow Facebook pictures make me feel inadequate. In fact I have stopped newsfeed to the situations that I feel inadequate!

  4. The part that I identify with most is the part about food. I always am feeling guilty about what we eat. We don’t eat totally bad but it is spaghetti o’s or nuggets or cheese sandwiches all too often. Doesn’t help that I see posts on Facebook about the healthy food they make for their kids (do their kids actually eat these things? I don’t know). I continually beat myself up over it and have to remind myself that it is OK and that I’m doing the best I can. Thanks for the reminder for that and all the other things!

  5. Oh Orange Rhino, I think we all have those days. I know I do. The important thing is you accept the facts, and let it go. We’d all be a much better mommies if we focus on all the good and fun things that we do do. No matter how big or small. We have to celebrate the little things. Maybe you read, or color pictures with your child. Maybe you tuck notes in their lunch box, or play during bath time, make cookies for an after school surprise. Whatever it is you do, do it with love and don’t let things you don’t do bring you down. Can I offer an idea- one in which I think I’ll do myself…. make a to-do list- a wish-list for unique things you’d like to do…make it BIG & COLORFUL hang it on the inside of your bedroom door (i did this with my kids last summer)~ or tape it inside a kitchen cupboard~ make it small and personal and tuck it in your undies drawer….just make a list of fun, special, creative things you want to do with your kids and cross them off as you go. You don’t have to do them a zillion times or everyday if you don’t want to or can’t fit them in. Boy will it feel good to check them off the list- you might not do all of them but that’s okay- there is no one judging you, except yourself.

  6. Thank you so much for this.
    It was meant to be that I stumbled upon this article tonight. I really needed this.
    Thank you!
    Happy Mother’s Day

  7. I TOTALLY needed to read this article today. Ever since I discovered ORANGE RHINO I have been talking about it NON stop.
    I told my friends about it & I told them I really needed someone to keep me accountable.
    I knew I was the yeller & screamer of the group. As soon as we had group chats about how our days went I was the one that yelled @ breakfast, lunch , snack ,dinner & bedtime.
    It had slowly become a goal lets make it through breakfast. YEAH!
    Now lets make it throught lunch. YEAH! And you get the point.
    I finally had 2 days of no yelling under my belt & then I totally blew it & now I have left the group of mommies I was chatting with because I felt sooooo bad about how often I yell & what a terrible mom I am compared to them.
    I am trying to soooooo hard. And my girls know I LOVE them soooooo much that I WANT to be a mommy who doesn’t yell anymore.
    Thank you for this challenge & for all your tips.

  8. Our kids are amazing and wonderful and clever, we did that! We did it! We are amazing and wonderful and clever too! Happy Mother’s Day Orange Rhino and thank you for creating this community and helping me overcome my dislike of all things orange!

  9. Thank you so much. I feel that way alot and thought I was the only one. I do what I can and alot of times I don’t fell like it’s enough. I love all my kids and want the best for all of them. My older children thank me for what I gave them and what I did for them. My young ones are still to young to know but I hope they will appriciate what they have. Thank you so much for this site and I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day.

  10. I really loved this and needed this especially today, I was already dreading Mother’s Day feeling inadequate that I don’t even deserve to be celebrated as a mother ,but I will now look in the mirror and tell myself that I am a good enough mom 🙂 thank you!

  11. This really hits home for me as a mother of two boys. I’m always thinking of how I am not a good mom. What I could try to do to be better but things never seem to pan out because as u said there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I guess we need to stop worrying about what all the other moms are doing with their children and start focusing on how we are actually good moms to our own children. It’s a struggle. Just as hard as not yelling I think. Maybe even harder. This Mother’s Day my gift will be to know that I am a good enough mom as well 🙂 thank you

  12. This is exactly what I needed to read today! My eyes welled up with a few tears…and I reminded myself that I too am a good enough mom!! Thanks for posting

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