Best Mom Ever Status????

Something has occurred in my household numerous times over the last….well, I’m not even sure how long…as long as I remember, I guess.  I’ll be snuggling my children on the couch, or at bedtime, or we’ll be sitting down to supper, or we’ll be doing nothing in particular, and my children, my son or my daughter, will look at me and declare, “You’re the best mom ever.”  The statement throws me off every single time.  I usually respond with, “Well I do love you with all of my heart.”  I don’t say thank you, I don’t own that title, I don’t feel deserving…instead, I feel a kind of guilt sweep over me, thinking “No, no I’m the not the best mom ever. I could be so much better.”

Have you ever felt that?  That feeling that you’re being credited with something that just isn’t yours to own…and by the person/people that you love more than anything else on this planet.  Those people that you owe everything to because they bring you the most happiness, the most contentment, the most joy.  A feeling of shame because you can’t or won’t do more for them.  That feeling, that shameful, guilty feeling is the one that sweeps over me, when my beautiful children look to me, thinking that I am someone that I am just not.

That feeling, that shameful, guilty feeling is the one that sweeps over me, when my beautiful children look to me, thinking that I am someone that I am just not.

Here are the things that keep me from owning that “Best Mom” status…these are the things that make me feel guilty and less than:

  1. I don’t listen.  I don’t listen to my children.  I started a tradition a long time ago with my children for them to tell me each day about their high and low moment.  I did this out of fear that they would grow up and not talk to me about their lives, so I thought I would open the communication channels early.  Let me tell you, talking is not a problem in my house.  My children talk all the time, non-stop, every moment…about sports cars, YouTube videos, music, video games, friends, teachers, cell phones, animals…you get the idea.  And some times, more times than I care to admit, I nod my head without listening, because I can’t take it all in…knowing full and well a day will come when their chatter won’t fill every moment of my life.  Knowing I shouldn’t take this for granted, but still, I don’t listen.
  2. I feed them crap.  Not literal crap, but you know…poptarts, cereal, Beefaroni, Ramen Noodles, lunchables.  I know these are not healthy choices…far from organic or natural…definitely not fresh or nutritious.  My children deserve healthy, wholesome, nutritious food, and I try to get those things to them them regularly.  But I also just settle for feeding them the instant, easy junk because, well because…it’s instant and easy.  No other excuses.  Along these same lines, I also don’t fix my kids’ lunch for school.  No fancy, pretty bento lunches for the Hafele children.  My daughter actually asked to bring lunch to school the other day, and I just said “No” for no other reason than I don’t want to fix my kids’ school lunch every single evening…or ever.
  3. I haven’t exercised with my kids for a long time.  In the past, I have had great parenting moments where my kids and I ride bikes,go for runs, walk to the park and do all of these great active things together.  But I’ve not had one of those moments for a long time.  For a while because I was finishing my MBA, and now because I’m pregnant and out of shape, but they deserve to have a mom who gets down and plays with them on their level.  The fact that I can’t and haven’t done that, makes me feel nothing short of horrible.
  4. I love to go to work.  I love my job and my career and working.  Even if I had the option to stay home with my children financially, I don’t think that I would.  I love spending time with my children, but my career is fulfilling for me as an unique human being.  I feel challenged by and excited for my career  in a way that is 100% my own, and I’m not willing to give that up.  I grew up in a household where my mother stayed home from work to raise me, so this is a tough one for me.  Don’t my children deserve that same focus and dedication?  Does it make me a bad mom that I’m not willing to sacrifice my professional aspirations to be a full time mom?
  5. I don’t remind them to brush their teeth every single night, I forget to give my daughter her allergy medicine some mornings, I don’t always remember to clean their ears or trim their nails, my daughter’s finger nails aren’t painted, she doesn’t have ear rings in, I don’t watch my son practice ball in our yard, I don’t craft them homemade items, I don’t scrapbook for them, I never finished either of their baby books, I fail at turning in their paperwork 5/10 times, I watch movies with them that other parents would think are too mature for them, I listen to music with them that has cuss words in it, I feel irritated when I have to stop my podcast in the morning because my bathroom has been overrun by my children, sometimes I just want a break and then I miss them like crazy when they’re gone, some days I don’t want to do tuck-ins at bedtime, sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the responsibility, and 100,000,000 other things I that do wrong or at least not perfectly.

This list could go on forever.  But the truth is that I love my children deeply and wildly.  I thank God for them every single day, even when I’m tired and overwhelmed.  And for all of my faults, I truly do the best that I can.  My logical side tells me that God made these children just for me, He is all-knowing, and He would never put them in my hands if I wasn’t the best mom for them.

My logical side tells me that God made these children just for me, He is all-knowing, and He would never put them in my hands if I wasn’t the best mom for them.

So certainly, I am not perfect, and the older I get the less I try for perfection.  But maybe through the laughter we share, through the hugs and the kisses, through the silly faces and dances, through the homecooked meals and dinners at the table that I do get accomplished, through setting an example for them of what hard work and passion looks like, through dedication and devotion to their father, through forgiveness and understanding, through real conversations about the joyous and hard things in life, through moments in the garden, through movie nights on the couch, through family fun days…maybe through these moments, I deserve the best mom status.  Best for them, my children, my gift, my greatest accomplishment.  Maybe next time I hear those words, I can feel pride and not shame.  Maybe I can say thank you, smile, and let them know they are the best children too.

Maybe I can say thank you, smile, and let them know they are the best children too.

Maybe we all can do just that…and take pride that our children see us as we actually are, not in the flawed ways that we see ourselves.

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My Dash

Today marks the first day of my freedom….for approximately 30 days to come.  Yesterday morning I submitted my final paper for MNGT 681 – Strategic and International Management, class number eight of 10 and the capstone of my MBA program.  The past seven weeks have been challenging to say the least.  30+ hours of course work, 40+ hours of “work” work, and of course, family.  I have been tired, stressed, stretched to my limit (and my very supportive, amazing, sweet husband has too).  But life keeps on going, even when you take on too much.  Life moves on, ready or not…as mine certainly did.

In the past seven weeks, we lost Jace’s most beloved pet hamster, Butterscotch.  On a rare night alone, my husband and I decided to go out for a little wine and dinner.  On our way home my husband mentioned he forgot that he had let our pet cat, Molly, inside the house.  You see, Molly was once an inside cat, but after my daughter’s cat allergies arose, and exasperated by Molly’s awful temperament and propensity to pee on our bed when she wasn’t pleased with us, Molly become an outside cat.   So, Phil had let Molly in for old time’s sake and forgot to put her out when we left for dinner.  Arriving home, I bolted for the restroom, which tends to happen after a few glasses of wine.  From upon the porcelain throne, I hear my husband mutter, “OH MY GODDDD.”  From the restroom I shouted, “What???!!” To which he returned, “It’s the worst possible thing you could imagine.”  There, left lovingly by my husband’s bedside as a sweet little gift, was Butterscotch, dead.  Molly was prancing around the house as though she was really something fantastic.  I’m not sure if it was the wine or the thought of telling Jace that Butterscotch was no more, but that night I sat in the kitchen and cried for a while.  Jace took it well, and much to my own amazement, in place of Butterscotch, we now have two hamsters, because little sister needed a hamster too.  Our family continues to grow, fuzzy as it may be, Phil, Melissa, Jace, Jera, Rusty (dog), Molly (cat), Oreo (hamster) and Angel (hamster) keep on moving forward.

In other news, my oldest son, Jace, turned nine years old this week.  As absolutely crazy as it seems that I can have a nine-year old (yes, that is half way to 18), in the same breath it seems so right.  When I look at my son today, I see a boy, not the baby and toddler that I used to see.  I see someone with his own thoughts and opinions, someone who is considerate and kind, someone who is quirky in the best way.  I see someone who is gaining an understanding of this world, both its beauty and its cruelty.  He isn’t the same tiny boy he used to be, which in moments makes me sad, but  also so proud.  I couldn’t be prouder of the young man he is growing into. Time keeps moving forward.

Now Christmas in the Hafele house has begun.  The tree is up, the presents are bought (mostly), the month is filled with Christmas-fun plans.  The elves are back….and they’ve multiplied.  We first began with Zart, the original Elf on the Shelf.  Then in year three, Zart went missing.  We then brought in Millie and Willie, one for Jace and one for Jera, of course.  Then in year four, Zart turned back up and we had Zart, Willie and Millie.  Ater my grandma passed away recently, the kids wanted Great-Grandma’s elves to remember her by, so three more elves came to live with us.  Today we have six, you read that right, SIX elves to stash around the house.  Thankfully, I let Jace in on the little secret this year, and he has had a blast helping us to hide the elves for Jera.  As much as I thought it would be sad to tell him the truth about the Elves on Shelf, he has genuinely enjoyed being the giver of joy this year.  Another sign of what a special boy he is.  And every once in a while, Zart hides somewhere special for Jace to find….just for old time’s sake.

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My next class begins January 8th, and I plan to enjoy each and every second until then.  And then, when I’m back to the 70+ hour work weeks, I will try to enjoy every moment then too.  I look back at the last seven weeks, look back over the past year and a half in the MBA Program, back at the last 10+ years of working full-time, at the past 15 years of my relationship with my husband…I think back to the time of my childhood, of my parents and all of the love we shared, to my siblings and cousins and all of the laughs…I look back and I’m in awe.  I’m in awe to be where I am today with so many blessings.  I’m in awe that so much time has passed and at times it feels like it’s only been an instant.  I’m brought back to my Pastor’s sermon from last week where she recited the poem “The Dash”….if you haven’t read it, the poem talks about how a headstone marks the date of birth and the date of death, but those dates really aren’t important at all.  What is important, what really matters is the ‘dash’.  What are we going to do with our dash?  How will we spend it?  I hope to make the most of my dash.  That is what I strive for every day.  I hope you do too.

Happy holidays and a merry Christmas to all of my readers.  I pray that you are filled with the sacred spirit of this season and that your dash is everything that you were created to be.

2, 4, 6, 8…Nah, 2.

This week was hell-ish. I began my eighth MBA course, Strategic and International Management. I had the stomach flu. And then my husband had the stomach flu. And then my daughter had an asthma flare that landed her home from school for two days. It’s the month following quarter-end, which involves all of the work-fun that one could conjure up. We had Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. My dishes were unwashed. My laundry is completely out of control. I was in tears at times from the amount of overwhelmed that was me. And I was absolutely, positively sure that I did not want any more kids. Totally sure.

You see, our son is turning nine next month. Our daughter is five. My husband and I are in our mid-thirties and we had agreed that we don’t want to be having babies in our forties. We’ve hit this now or never moment. For a minute, we wanted more. If you have children, it’s impossible not to wonder who number three would be. Would they be reserved and laid back like our son? Or kind and dramatic like our daughter? Or would his little nugget be someone completely new and original? 

Then months went by. I finished another class and started my current class. Life went up and went down. We got good news and we got bad news. We had moments that we couldn’t take a single extra stress for fear of completely losing it. 

And I changed my mind. Because maybe things are exactly perfect the way they are. Other families never had choices. Children just came, one after another and there wasn’t a lot of time for thinking. But things were never like that for my husband and me. It was always a choice, and then we had to try to have a baby. It was fun, but it was also stressful and sad at times. 

I felt certain last week that it was time to move forward to the next stage of our lives. Then today as I was folding my mountains of laundry, Knocked Up was playing in the background. I watched Kathryn Heigl give fake birth and I cried. My heart squeeezed in my chest as I watched a comedy about becoming a parent. I hesitated. Can I really go the entire rest of my life and never have that experience again…the miracle of having a child?

Having my children, the actual grueling process of giving birth, is the absolute most amazing experience that I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve never felt stronger, more sure of myself, more comfortable in my own skin then when I was bringing my babies into the world. Can I really not ever feel that again? There are no words that can describe what those moments meant to me. Perfection comes close.

I still think two is the right answer for us, for our family, for who we are and what we want. I’m sure I’ll have other moments. Moments of mourning what might have been. 

I’m curious from my readers…when did you know you were done having children? Did you have moments of temporary insanity after you decided your baby-making days were done? I feel my common sense returning…in the form of needing to stop writing and get started with putting laundry away, putting away the groceries my hubby just brought through the door, getting bathtimes started, getting this supper thing done. 

Two is totally enough. Totally. 

But how can you help but reminisce about these moments…

Have It All Together?

Do you ever feel crazy? Like full on, off your rocker, make me a strong drink, kind of nuts? I seriously surprise myself daily with the range of emotion I can get through in just one day. Being a human is so weird. Just saying.

Anyhow, today was an ordinary day in our household. I woke up, full of energy, feeling like I had plenty of time before our first “appointment” of the day. Wake the kids, find the elves, flip on the cartoons, make the chocolate milk, let the dog out to potty, feed the cat…look at the clock…begin to panic….listen to my husband snoring…begin to rage. 

I see a lot of women who seem to have it all together. They’re on time and they look disapprovingly at me as I sprint across the parking lot dragging my adorable and completely powerless preschooler behind me. Ha! If they only knew how I also snapped at her the entire last 15 minutes of the morning because she needed to brush her teeth, brush her hair, get her backpack, tie her shoes, get her coat, faster faster FASTER! I feel the mom-guilt pang my heart and I want to do better...to be better.

 The very best days of my life begin early. Getting out of bed on time, getting a workout in, waking up my children on time, being relaxed, being on time. I tend to run in spurts with this on-time thing. A couple of months of smooth sailing…followed by a couple of months of hectic chaos. For me, in those weeks of struggling its  so hard to remember how wonderful the day would be if I get out of bed at 5:00 a.m. AT 5:00 A.M.! My logic doesn’t serve me well when I’m snuggled under my blankets (again, husband snoring).

To survive, to love myself in these harder times, I have to find comfort in knowing that I’m doing the best I can. I tell myself that even those “got-it-all-together” moms, aren’t as perfect as they seem. 

I write this tonight because someone actually said to me this week “You’re always so put together.” What? Whaaaat? I looked behind me but no one was standing there…no, for sure, she was definitely referring to me. I have it all together??? I’m late. I’m messy. I’m uptight. I’m stressed. I get lazy, sad, angry, tired…crazy most days. But someone out there thinks I have it all together. This is a crazy life.


My point is that it’s okay. My husband and my kids are so loved. My home is still standing. My dog still loves me. And my cat likes me most of the time. Some moments, hours, days, I feel crazy. But really, I’m okay. I’m just living and sometimes that’s enough. When we feel crazy, maybe we just need to remember that someone out there thinks we’re doing a great job. And maybe, more importantly, we remember that those even closer to us, those we tuck in at night, those we open our eyes to morning after morning, those that mean the most, those people think we’re pretty fantastic. So maybe a little crazy is actually alright. Maybe crazy really is beautiful.