Me and Emma at the Beach.

Can You Get an A+ in Motherhood?

I really wanted an A+ in motherhood, and I was completely devoted to the task. I read tons of parenting books and tried to do everything I learned. I’d give myself a B so far.

Emma is my second child. My parenting style with her is a good example of what I thought excellent moms did. I knew she would be my last so I went all out. Her first name and middle name were very carefully considered. I skipped family and went to history and literature. Emma and her middle name Antonia come from strong, independent women, one of whom was an anarchist. While pregnant, I ate like a monk and knit her a creamy white baby blanket with scalloped pink trim because I had to.

When Emma was born, I used cloth diapers and a ridiculously expensive detergent. She never had a bottle or pacifier, and I was so proud of my “breast-to-cup” achievement. Everything that touched her lips was organic. I dressed her in a large collection of the cutest 100% cotton baby clothes thanks to our fashionable friends who sent them as gifts. One of my neighbors asked if she ever wore the same thing twice.

She went to the crunchiest, huggiest preschool I could find, and then she went to a crunchy, huggy elementary school. At home, we did science experiments and read books about artists.

I had a reality check like most moms eventually do. I learned that you can’t create the perfect environment for your child because we are all imperfect moms. Our weaknesses seep into our children through our words and actions. In elementary school, Emma mimicked my need for order and cleanliness by keeping her room in perfect condition. Once, she even picked up trash on the beach. I couldn’t understand why she was like this because I couldn’t see it in myself. In high school, she had to have “As”. She took every AP class she could get her hands on. Her obsession with scholastic achievement puzzled me as well.

I ask my husband Mark to rate every blog post on a scale of 1 to 10. He is patient and indulges me every time. If it’s a 9, I ask for a grade on a 1 to 100 scale. This is so embarrassing to admit, but I rewrite anything under a 95. I can’t handle a 90. Two of my posts got an 85, and I freaked out.

Emma overcame her need for “As” and a clean room when she went to college. She works hard in school and is not happy when she gets a B, but it’s not a disaster. At home, her bedroom is a mix of mayhem and order. You’ll see clothes everywhere for days, and then she does a whirlwind clean-up.

The most important thing we can do as moms is take stock of ourselves. It’s impossible to be a perfect parent or give motherhood a grade because there are so many ways to be a good mom. Plus, the journey never ends. I wish I could get an A+ in motherhood, but if I can accept the B, I may be a near perfect mother.

P.S. It’s going to be a long journey. As Mark was reading this post, I almost said, “It has to be perfect.”