The Best Worst Mom Ever
“Mommy, can I talk to you about something?”
I dropped what I was doing. It was the first minute — literally, the first — that I had sat down to relax in almost ten hours. The day was impossible. One kid home with no summer camps or activities planned. Another kid home on day three of the stomach flu. An overactive inbox. A stressed out husband. A bored and restless puppy. A kitchen filled with disarray and clutter and piles of mess.
I had just sat down to breathe, nothing more. I wasn’t looking to hop on Instagram or text my sister or even to check the weather. I just wanted to breathe. I just wanted to try to find a moment of solace to regroup for the evening shift. For the piles of laundry that were calling my name. For the next round of the stomach flu. For the work deadlines that still loomed ahead into the night.
I dropped what I was doing and turned to her.
“I feel like you don’t have any time for me,” she whispered, her bottom lip starting to quiver.
My heart fell. I knew where it was going. I should have booked a summer camp. I should have tried to cut back on work this month. I should have hired a dog-walker.
“I know,” I said. “In some ways, today, I don’t.”
I wanted to make excuses and find an extra ten hours of free time and bring a smile back to her face and explain to her again about why I am a working mom and how it benefits us in so many ways and how we are beyond fortunate for our circumstances, lack of time and all, but…I couldn’t. I didn’t.
“Today, I didn’t have enough time,” I said gently. “I just didn’t.”
No excuses. No miracles pulled out of my back pocket. No promises.
I was the worst mom ever in the best possible way.
I was honest. I was sincere. I was looking her in the eye and telling her what she didn’t want – but maybe had to – hear, with all my love. I was letting her see that some days, the world wins. That it piles up on top of you and you can choose to try to fight it all and climb further uphill or you can let it slide a little. You can realize that some times, there isn’t enough time. And some days you can’t prioritize where your time goes, no matter how badly you want to. I tried to show her that some days you will be the best worst you and that’s all you can be. And most importantly, that I think it’s ok. It’s ok that I failed a little that day. And it’s ok that she called me out on it. And together, we will make tomorrow better.
I was the worst mom ever but I was going to own it.
She smiled a little. Just a hint. Wiped away the tear that had started to roll down her lightly freckled cheek. She looked to the summer sky above, just starting to soften in the evening light. And she looked back at me.
“It’s ok, mom,” she said. And she sat down next to me. And we took a deep breath.
I was the worst mom ever and in that moment, it was the best thing that had happened all day.