Friday, March 22, 2013

Getting the trash out

Yesterday was another windy day in my city. It was also trash day. Once, I glanced out my window and saw that my giant recycling can full of easily-blown papers was lying on its side, lid open. I rushed out to upright it, and I saw that my neighbor’s cans had also lost their lids. 

In the past, I have chased her trash around her yard while she is at work, righted her trash cans for her, and pulled her empty cans out of the street and up to her garage. I was anxious that today was going to be another one of those days where I had to check out the window every five minutes to make sure her trash wasn’t blowing all over the neighborhood. I spent about one minute feeling sorry for myself that this was turning into Trash Watch 2013 while my neighbor was oblivious to my very sacrificial civic duty, and then a thought came to me. She got her trash cans to the curb. On the right day. And suddenly I was in awe of her, of what she does.

My neighbor is a single mom whose kids I count as my own. She works full-time and somehow manages to single-parent and run her house as well. She pays her bills, feeds her kids, arranges for their education and child-care, and enrolls them in extra-curricular activities. She teaches them character and obedience, and I have to say here that they are great kids. I don’t know how she does it all.

In my world as a stay-at-home-mom, I do a lot of “drive-by reading.” I read blogs here and there, when I can. I read texts here and there, when I can. I read articles here and there, when I can. I check Facebook here and there, when I can. And many of the things I read have to do with parenting, and mothering specifically. After reading about another mom who took her kid to ballet (somehow I cannot manage to enroll Coralie in a dance class. I do not know why I am so dumbfounded by the process), or whose children just won the Leadership Award in preschool (!), or who saved $1500/year by cloth diapering (which, by the way, is the only loving way to diaper your child), I feel inadequate.

Yesterday, I read this article. Finally, I thought. Another mom who says, Enough! Enough of trying to look like Supermom! Enough of spending hours on Pinterest coming up with Easter ideas or birthday party ideas or Valentine’s card ideas! I felt validated in the choices I make as a mother that exclude me from the over-the-top-awesome-mom category. And then the author mentioned that she had read to her children for 20 minutes that day, played outside with them, bathed them, helped them practice guitar, and cooked them dinner and ate with them. And then I felt bad again. Because, yesterday, I did none of those things. I played with my kids a little, I read to them for maybe five minutes, I babysat another kid for a few hours, and I cooked dinner for them. But I did not eat it with them: I went to the gym during dinner. I also yelled at my kids, rolled my eyes at my kids, and ignored my kids. 

Ryan often tells me that I am a good mom. I always respond, almost desperately, with, Why? Why do you say that? I need to hear him tell me that he believes I am a good mom, because I doubt it often. Now listen, I’m not plagued with a low self-esteem at all. I’m pretty confident in myself and my abilities. But when it comes to being a mom? I need all the positive reinforcement I can get, because reading those blogs and those statuses and those tweets? They are not encouraging to me. (And, by the way, I have stopped reading Facebook and many of the blogs I used to read for this very reason.)

Ryan doesn’t read those blogs; he doesn’t use their metrics of 20-minutes-a-day reading to analyze whether or not I’m a good mom. He sees our kids, their character, their health, their security, their curiosity, and he knows I’m a good mom.

Sometimes, getting the trash to the curb is what matters. So what if the lid blows off, I didn’t make homemade Valentine’s cards, the recycling blows all over the neighborhood, I served my family a frozen pizza, the trash can blows into the street. So what. I took the trash out. 


  1. Love this. I feel like we are all in the same boat - yet we use this measure of a perfect mom by what we read on the internet. I hope my blog isn't one that is superficial and everyone is so perfect...because we aren't. Lately Haylie has been telling me how much I frustrate her...

  2. YES YES YES!!!! I have said it more than once - I am so thankful facebook and blogging (and the internet for that matter) wasn't even invented yet --- when our babies were little. I would have gone stark-raving mad!!

    Hang in there - you are AN AWESOME mom!!!! Love you girlie!!!

    Beth Davis :)