When you become a mom, you are handed this little, basically, let’s be real, ball of dough.
And you’re looking at it in just bewilderment and wonder, and you hold it so guardedly, so carefully – like you’d hold an actual, literal lump of dough, because you’re acutely aware that every time you move, and every time you breathe, you’re forming it, molding it. . . and that’s how it begins.
And it gets bigger, but it’s just still so gosh-darn moldable. But you just can’t hold it as carefully – here, I am known to spring on our big boys unexpectedly and throw my arms around them and give them a good *heave* off the ground just to surprise them because middle-school boys aren’t the touchy-feeliest of creatures (and, frankly, neither am I).
It can be maddening, how impressionable and moldable they still are when they’re too big to hold carefully.
Like, when I get up early to shower and get dressed in actual clothes, and I shuttle everyone to school with record speed and organize an entire morning for nine people around a presentation. . . but I’m still five minutes later than every other parent.
Or when I ask eighteen questions about the day, but I fail to ask the RIGHT question, and it’s palpable.
I was making cinnamon rolls a couple weeks ago, and I threw away SEVEN PANS. Maybe I rushed them, maybe I rolled too soon or let them over-proof. . . I have no idea what happened, honestly. But I did it wrong, and I texted RG at 2am in tears (#worktravel). And regardless of exactly how we got there, there were 42 softly-risen, moldable rolls in the trash.
But there are no throw-aways with these little lumps of dough we’re given as moms – there’s no Prime Now to let us start over fresh at 9am. We can only work with what we’ve molded.
When I was a new mom, and RG texted to see how a day had gone, I’d often reply, “We’re all still alive.” This was, at the time, how I defined success. No matter how messy the house was or how exhausted I was, whether or not dinner was on the table (spoiler: it wasn’t), what I could offer was that we were are still alive.
I didn’t know then that as our little lumps of dough grew bigger, stronger, taller (taller than me, even!), they also become more vulnerable, more moldable.
And, horribly, as some of THE BEST mothers know, at the end of a horrible day, Moms can’t always say, “We’re all still alive.” Because the truth is that sometimes despite our best efforts and how much we tried to protect them and mold them. . .
I don’t say, “We’re all still alive,” on a rough day any more because it’s all too real that there’s too much in that statement moms can’t control. At the end of the incredibly hard days (and there are many), now I only say,
“I didn’t give up.”
And, in motherhood, that’s the only true measure of success.
To not giving up. Forever.