My kids love to bring me dandelions and there is no shortage of them in our yard. Despite the fact that they are ugly weeds, I always do my best to show my genuine gratitude that my kids are showing their love for me.
The other day, after a particularly plentiful dandelion gathering, I had probably 6 dandelions tucked behind my ears from both of my kids. We walked into the store and I saw an old guy friend from high school. I just smiled, waved and kept walking, totally ignoring the look on his face. It wasn’t until later, when a couple of the dandelions fell out that I even remembered they were there. I realized how ridiculous I must have looked to him with my wind-blown, sweaty hair filled with dandelions. And I promptly realized I didn’t care.
Becoming a mother has changed me in so many ways. I have become more assertive, more observant, and more grateful for tiny miracles. I have become less concerned with what people think of me and less critical of others. In short, I don’t care much for how the world sees me anymore. I care much more about how my children see me.
The dandelion incident is one of many where I was aware of how my children’s happiness and well-being was much more important than how anybody else saw me.
When my daughter was still a baby we were on vacation in Texas and went to the zoo in Houston with a friend and her son. My kids were not used to the 90 degree weather and 100% humidity. The poor kids were dripping wet the entire day and we quickly realized it was a huge mistake to think we could enjoy ourselves at the zoo in the middle of June with the rest of the sweaty population.
When my daughter became fussy because she was hungry I found a quiet spot, as away from the multitudes as I could find, and began nursing her with my nursing cover on. It only took a second for me to realize this was not going to work. I was almost delirious with the heat and she was practically suffocating under there! She kept trying to rip it off and I finally took it off myself.
I had never nursed in public without a cover and you know what, in that moment I didn’t care. I did my best to cover up what I could but feeding my daughter became a higher priority than what other people thought. I knew my husband was uncomfortable, my friend was uncomfortable, and there were several people who walked by and shook their heads. It seemed ironic to me that there were several girls wearing bikini tops walking around with just as much, if not more, breast showing as me but nobody seemed to notice.
Before I had children, I would never dream of showing any amount of my breasts in public. I’ve always been a very modest person and frankly a little judgmental about women who nursed in public. But this day, I realized that sometimes you have to compromise in order to be a good mother.
When I’m running through the Walmart parking lot like a crazy person with a cartful of kids yelling, “Faster mommy, faster!” I don’t even look up to see what people’s reactions are to my immature behavior. When someone makes a comment about how weird it is that I let my kids kiss me on my mouth, I turn a deaf ear. When my kids spill their fruit snacks on the floor at church and then pick them up and eat them, I don’t pay attention to the people who I know are silently criticizing me. It’s just not worth it.
Am I a perfect mother with no need of anyone else’s counsel or advice? Clearly not. Is it ok to let kids eat food off the filthy ground? Probably not. I’m trying to take this motherhood thing, which has turned out to be the most challenging role of my life, one day at a time. That means that I’m going to screw up. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m probably going to have to pay for my kids’ therapy one day to get over whatever I end up doing that screws them up emotionally.
Despite all my faults and screw-ups, I can honestly say that I love these little humans more than any other on this planet. The love I feel for them is unmatched and my desire to be a good mother for them runs deep. I hope they remember that I wore their dandelions in my hair with pride. And I do. In fact, sometimes I completely forget they’re there.
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What are some of your experiences where you realized your children’s happiness was more important than how other people saw you?