I'm not a perfect parent.
I make a lot of mistakes.
But I'm trying. I'm really trying to be a good Mom.
The kind of Mom who made you feel cherished, and who was fun when she chased you around the backyard with squirt guns or made you pancakes for dinner. I have so much desire to give you everything. To give you the best of me, but some days I come up short.
Sometimes I lay in bed at night after the house has grown dark and quiet, and replay the day. I scrutinize how I did. How I acted and if I was too strict or showed enough empathy.
Did you feel loved enough today?
I'm trying my hardest to be a good Mom but some days are harder than others. I can't remember what it feels like to sleep a full night without waking to the sound of a sniffle or when your feet hit the floor to use the bathroom. I'm doing my best, but there is no grading scale or performance review so I can't gauge my parenting skills. I don't know what you would put on my report card for but I hope it would have high marks for effort and ninja negotiating skills. My cooking skills would fall in the "needs improvement" category.
Some days I'm not as generous with my time as I want to be and the guilt eats me up at night. I cry sometimes thinking of how fast you're growing and I'm missing it when I spend time working on my computer or picking up toys around the house. I know there are more days ahead for you and less for me. I'm trying to be the Mom you need while you still call me Mommy and run and hug me when I pick you up from school.
Some days I have no choice but to do the dishes, grocery shop and scrub toilets because well, let's be honest ... just because you're potty trained does not mean you have any sort of aim. And on these days I pat myself on the back because the house actually sparkles, but you feel second-fiddle.
Other days ... on special days, I abandon my responsibilities and scrap my plans to go to the gym and we head to the zoo. Those are the best days and they make you bounce up and down like your shoes are spring-loaded, you're so happy.
The days when I'm spontaneous and flexible and I stop worrying about being in control are your happiest. You say things to me like "You're the best Mom in the world," and I believe it. But that can't be every day. I wish it could.
I'm trying my best, I really am. I hope you know that. I hope you see it. I'm trying to juggle it all. I'm trying to be good at everything - for you, for your Dad, taking care of our house and my adult responsibilities - but it's not easy. Sometimes I'm a playful Mom and I have impromptu dance parties and sometimes I'm so tired from waking up three times the night before and tucking you back under the covers so I turn on an episode of Daniel Tiger and zone out.
Will you remember the time I finally broke and yelled at you? Will this stick with you forever? Or will you remember when I ran to you and held you when you fell off your bike?
When we go on trips or take a vacation you talk about it every day, all day for the weeks leading up to it. It's like listening to the same song on repeat for two weeks. Your excitement is contagious and so I take 423 pictures to memorialize the adventures and your goofy smile.
But sometimes all I want is to sit in the backyard and watch you play by yourselves while I sneak a glance at my phone.
I try my best to make sure you're nourished and make our menu around food you like to eat. Although some nights we sit at the table an extra 10 minutes while you gag down broccoli. Making you breakfast, lunch, dinner and 13 snacks a day is a lot of work and I'm no Martha.
I want to be a fun Mom who grabs a cake pop for you when I go through the Starbucks drive-thru, but also teach you to make healthy choices. Sugar versus real food is a constant battle of how much is too much. So when I say no to sweets tomorrow, I know you won't be my biggest fan, but I always have your heart in mind.
I have to make decisions that you won't like and I hope one day you'll understand
Some nights I can't stomach a trip to the store with three kids in the middle of the dinner time rush and dial for pizza to make my own life easier. I have my fingers crossed that this feels more like a special treat than your Mom being too tired to wrangle three kids who are hangry, or too lazy to cook. And then, when we've made it through another day, I tuck you into bed at 7:30 because I know how important sleep is for your growing bodies.
I also know you'll be about as fun as getting a root canal if you don't get enough of it. And I'm also exhausted if you couldn't tell from the way my hair has fallen half way out of my ponytail or my mascara has rubbed off under my eyes making me look like a raccoon.
Buddy, I'm sorry I can't do the bedtime dance every night and some nights I know I rush through brushing your teeth and quickly saying goodnight so that I can run back downstairs to remember what it feels like to sit down and not be touched anymore. I can't cuddle with you for 45 more minutes or read two more stories every night.
Not every night, OK?
I can't refill your water because it smells funny.
I checked and it doesn't.
I can't stop on the stairs when I'm running full sprint down them, to turn around and listen to the something you "forgot to tell me" again.
I know we won't find your missing stuffed elephant that the dog ate three months ago and besides, you already have 23 other stuffed animals to keep you company.
I just can't do the bedtime dance every.single.night.
But then I feel guilty and when I do go back upstairs to cuddle you, you're already asleep and I feel like a total jerk. You'll never know how I lay down next to you and silently said I was sorry I didn't come sooner.
One day you'll stop asking me for one more of anything at bedtime and I'll spend the night staring at my ceiling and wiping away the hot tears and wallowing in regret.
I'm trying to be loving and not lose my cool, but bedtime is the last hurdle before I can soak in the tub or eat the Halloween candy I told you was all gone. At the end of the day, I'm touched out and tired from referring spats over who had one more raisin than the other or hearing that your sister called you "meanie."
I don't want you to drift off to sleep with the last thought of your Mom losing it when you ask her to tuck you back in for the 12th time. I want to put you to bed, kiss you goodnight and whisper in your ear how much I love you, all while keeping my sanity in check. I admit, I have a hard time finding a balance between giving you all my attention, all the time and trying to save some of myself, for me. And there is the fact that I'm still trying to make peace with my shortcomings.
I'm trying my best to be a good Mom because I cherish you and every moment I spend with you is one moment I'll never have again.
I have never felt a love so deep, and so crushingly powerful like the way my heart beats in synch with yours.
I don't know how you'll remember me when you're older or have children of your own, but I hope you look back and know I tried every day to be good enough for you. Even when the days were hard. Even when the smile has left my eyes. Even when I am tired or had to work. But especially when we giggled uncontrollably at the dinner table. And when I told you I loved you, and you told me you loved me more.
Please remember that I tried my best.
I wasn't a perfect parent, but I tried hard to be your good Mom.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on The Pragmatic Parent. It has been republished here with permission.