Standing at the counter signing her child into the Mother’s Day out program my daughter Sharon met a flustered mom who declared, “I’m sorry my daughter looks like a mess. She slept in until 8:15. We had to hurry, so I did not get her clothes ironed before she came. Today I am That Mom.”
The child’s clean, frilly cotton shirt had a couple wrinkles, but no big deal.
Sharon silently laughed. She is That Mom all the time. If she purchases clothes from the thrift store that need ironing, she donates them back. She never irons.
Other moms post pictures of children in “mismatched” and label themselves That Mom for allowing it this time. Sharon prefers being That Mom who lets her children choose their clothes, dress themselves and save her time every day.
For Sharon the That Mom label was an insult. It said, “If you do not iron, then you do not have it all together and you have low standards for your children.”
The That Mom label just depends on perspective. After spending three years of fussing about everything, Sharon realized, “I was That Mom who had to have it all together and my child had to meet every growth point. It frustrated us. I quit. I am That Mom who does not insist that her children be in every activity, but reads books to them every day.”
“I am That Mom who is not worried about kid soccer teams. I do not let others set my standards or dictate how I parent. For me, That Mom dusts the base boards, is never frazzled, has everything tucked in, matched and a bow on top. That Mom lives a Pinterest perfect life.”
“I’m fine with being That Mom: the one with low standards; who does not iron and lets kids dress themselves. I am That Mom who lets her kids learn and do in the kitchen, even if the food looks a mess.”
Sharon remembers her years of perfect parenting. “There was always a schedule of what people said we should be doing. I was over stressed until I realized my child would not fit the square hole, and we would have to find the shape of hole that fit.”
“Different moms have different standards. It is okay to be the mom who has it all together or the one who does not.”
“That other mom’s words said I fell below her standard. They also conveyed to her child, ‘you are not enough today because I did not have time to iron.’ She sets a standard her daughter may not be able to meet in the future.”
During a course on family finances, a friend exclaimed, “I have been lied to my whole life. I don’t have to own and do certain things. I don’t have to keep up. My kids don’t have to be in every sport.” The insight gave her financial freedom.
“If I had been newer as a parent, when I heard the mom at MDO,” Sharon said, “I could have been heart broken and wondered, ‘What is wrong with me?’ Today I know nothing is wrong with me. If you like to iron, go for it, but that does not make you a better mom. Just like I’m not a better mom for allowing my kids to make giant messes.”
These days Sharon prefers to ask “Is this going to matter in 30 years? Will my kid need counseling because I did not iron his shirt? Will my actions point him to Christ, or help him be a light in a dark world? That’s what is important, not the freshly ironed shirt.”