Happy with Imperfection

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with the need to be a “good” parent. What should I, could I be doing more as a mother? I value knowledge and understanding in most facets of my life. Especially with parenting – my highest responsibility – I need to know how to be better…but I don’t.

There are scores upon scores of parenting books, magazines and websites to tell me how to be a better parent. Unfortunately, they tend to get under my skin. My son, nearly three years old, is an individual. I parent him based on what I think he needs, not on what I think a book says he needs. There’s nothing formulaic about parenting a toddler. My son is not a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book; i.e., if your child is A, do B or C.

Coincidentally, in the course of writing this column I heard shouts from my son’s bedroom – “Mom, Mom, Mooooom!” – about an hour and a half after I put him to bed.

I set my laptop aside, walked to his room, and found him jumping on his bed and his pajamas lying on the floor.

I asked him what was wrong, and he said, “Mama, I wake up.” He wanted to go into the living room, get real clothes on and start his day. It was 10:15 pm. I probably should have put him back to bed; instead, I took him out to the living room and put away my laptop.

We cuddled on the couch, played hide-and-seek under his baby blanket, sang Thomas the Train tunes, and he even cleaned up some of the toys he left out before he went to bed. When he started to get a sleepy look in his eyes, I picked him up and took him to our rocking chair and rocked him a bit before putting him back in bed.

When I turned to leave, I heard “Mama” and turned back. He asked me to lean down by him, my face close to his. He put his hand on my cheek, gave it a pat, and said, “You’re my Mama.”

“Yes, I’m your Mama,” was my reply.

This very well may be the sweetest experience I’ve had as a parent.

At 11 am, I took out my laptop once again to work on this column.

I feel what a parenting book would have me do is put him back to bed with a hug and a kiss, perhaps have him cry it out for a bit. But, I’m a little selfish when it comes to spending time with him, and I was happy to spend another hour with him. Granted, if he did this every night it would be different, but one night every couple months is a welcome gift – these unexpected moments I pass with him are the joys of being a parent.

The only two things I have in abundance to give to my son are love and patience. These virtues guide my parenting style. I may not be the type of mom who knows how to get chocolate stains out of a white t-shirt or the type of mom who keeps her child’s baby book up to date or the type of mom who knows exactly when developmental milestones should be met or the type of mom who bans television, but I am the type of mom who loves her son.