Are you the mother you wanted to be?

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As I was driving around doing errands with my 2-year-old the other day, I decided to call one of my old high school buddies. We have one of those friendships where we can go 6 months without speaking, and then pick-up exactly where we left off with no hard feelings.

Those are the good friendships, aren’t they?

Of course, neither of us had a great deal of time to talk before one of our kids hurt themselves or had a diaper blow-out, so once the iPads and cookies were distributed and everyone was momentarily quiet, we each did a quick run-down on what’s been keeping us too busy to acknowledge our friendship for months on end.

About 2 minutes into the call, my friend told me she had to go as her daughter’s psychologist was on the other line.

Me: Psychologist? Why is she seeing a psychologist?
Her: Has it really been that long since we last spoke?
Me: Yes.
Her: I’ll call you later.
Me: You better.

As it turns out, her almost-10-year-old’s anxiety has gotten a lot worse over the last several months, and the kids at school have been less than nice to her about it.

I know. My lip wobbled when I heard this, too.

So they’re looking into new school options and working with a great psychologist, and with any luck, this will all be nothing but a distant memory one day.

But in the meantime, they have a lot of work to do.

And it sucks.

A lot.

As we were saying our goodbyes and promising to be better at keeping in touch, my friend went totally silent.

Me: Are you okay?
Her: What if it’s my fault, Dani?
Me: It’s not your fault.
Her: I yell at her.
Me: So you’ll stop.
Her: What if I yelled at her too much?
Me: You didn’t.
Her: What if I’m the reason she has low self-esteem?
Me: You’re not.
Her: I’m a bad mother.
Me: Stop it. You’re a fabulous mother.
Her: But I’m not the mother I wanted to be. Not even close.

When I sank into our oversized couch with a glass of white later that night, I couldn’t get that conversation out of my head.

I’m not the mother I wanted to be.

Not even close.


Am I the mother I wanted to be?

Kind of.

Not really.

I was supposed to be more patient.

I was supposed to be more fun.

I was supposed to be more present.

But some days, I’m none of those things.

I don’t always want to read Dora The Explorer a million times in a row.

I’m terrified what will happen to my kitchen if I crack open those finger paints.

I find it impossible not to check my phone a million times when we’re at the park every afternoon.

But something happened that day.

I had an AHA Moment.

I realized that it’s not about me.

It’s about my daughter.

And that everything I do and say (or don’t do and say) shapes the person she’s going to become.

So when I looked into my daughter’s beautiful blue eyes the next morning, I made a promise to her.

I promised I’d try harder.

Because that’s what she deserves.

Are you the mother you wanted to be? 

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Gwen is a 40-something freelance writer and social media consultant who has an unhealthy love for makeup, hair, and fashion. She lives with her husband and 10-year-old daughter in Toronto, Canada and hopes to move to a warmer climate someday. Preferably tomorrow.