A mother seeking that ever-elusive sign of success

Written by Lee

Am I succeeding at this mom thing?

Am I?

When will I see a clue, or catch a glimpse, just anything to tell me that I’m doing okay?

When I worked it was easy. Producing television programs, starting something, and then finishing it. Working hard, being stressed, using my brain, interacting with the world, getting a pat on the back once in a while, working late, working long, but then done. A finished project. A feather in my hat. A line on my resume. Done.

And done.

As a mom, I am never done. And it’s taken me a while to figure that out. And daily I work on getting peaceful about that fact – that I will never be done.

And I need to jump into that undone feeling and embrace it. Wrap my soul around it and squeeze it tightly. Make it a part of me. Wear it like a favorite t-shirt. Let it seep into my skin and settle into my bloodstream. It’s me. The new me. A mother. And I will never be done.

But why is it so damn hard sometimes?

Why do I snap inside when the demands seem never-ending and the rewards are elusive? I wake up each morning and slowly surrender again and again and again to my job as a mother to three young kids….but more often than not, I find my mind seeking validation – that clue, that glimpse, to show me, to tell me, that I may be succeeding at this being-a-mom thing.

In the midst of the usual chaos of a day, it’s hard to see any sign of success. My kids are normal kids. If they clean up their room, they talk back. If they behave nicely in public, they hit each other in private. If they do their homework without me reminding them, they drag their feet getting ready for school. They listen once out of a million times it seems, and one moment, I swear I see genuinely loving, kind little people, and the next, I see overindulged, manipulative kids.

But once in a while, a ray of success sunshine peeks through and it’s always when I least expect it. All of a sudden I get smacked in the head from an unexpected place. A clue jumps out from the shadows to remind me that actually, all is okay in my mama world.

We spent a week in August at a house on a lake a couple hours east of LA with my in-laws and extended family. In the middle of a late summer afternoon with a houseful of family scattered about busy with a variety of summer activities, I walked into the kitchen one day to get some water. At the far corner of the long dining room table sat my Phoebe, just a couple weeks past her fifth birthday.

This is what I saw:

And in a flash of a moment when I least expected it, I was flooded with a feeling of fulfillment and the rewards of being a mother came rushing in. As she sat quietly with the summer lake sun streaming through the large windows, she played. With her hands. With shadows. With her bursting brain of imagination and story. And I felt totally and completely at peace. With all that had ever happened up to that point in time. All of the questioning and doubting of myself as a mother and yearning for validation was gone. And all that was left in its place was the present feeling of joy and the simple satisfaction of watching my daughter explore her world.

I am doing okay, I thought. I really think I am.

I stood and watched for a few minutes without her knowing before I rushed to get my camera so I could remember this moment. For myself. So when I forget the feeling, I could look back at these photographs and hopefully feel it again.

I am a slow learner I guess. Maybe I’m hard on myself. I don’t know. But I do know that being a mom is damn hard.

But a pair of five-year-old hands playing shadow puppets transported me to a place where everything suddenly seemed very clear. Where all of the stress and questioning and yelling and needing to control and seeking validation didn’t matter one damn bit.

A pair of shadowy bunny ears on a silent summer afternoon. A gift to me.

I think I’m doing okay at this mama thing. I really think I am.


To our readers new and old alike:

As we kick off getting back into the groove this Fall, I am reminded again and again of why I started this creative space. Moms Without Blogs was begun with one simple message – “Being a supermom is simply a state of mind.” But it blows my mind how easy it is to forget that one fact in the midst of the storm that can be modern-day mommying. I hope your visits here will renew your mama soul as you encounter like-minded women who desire nothing more than community, expression, and raw, fresh honesty.

We are beginning a new feature here called “Affiliate Friday” where we will feature one of our affiliates as a guest blogger for the day. I think it’s important to get to know the other voices that support the mission of MWOB. As we continue to grow our community, I hope you will consider joining forces with us and we look forward to getting to know you.

For today, I hope you gain a second of clarity in the middle of a hectic Monday to gaze at your own little sign of mama success.

‘Cause we are all doing okay at this mommy thing. I really think so.

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